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ENNIS, Texas -- Tony Pedregon scored a Funny Car victory April 25th that included a $100,000 Winston No Bull Challenge bonus at the third annual Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts. Pedregon, from Gardena, Calif.,...

ENNIS, Texas -- Tony Pedregon scored a Funny Car victory April 25th that included a $100,000 Winston No Bull Challenge bonus at the third annual Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts. Pedregon, from Gardena, Calif., powered away from Dean Skuza's Matco Tools Dodge Avenger to collect his second victory of the season and record $140,000 payday. Pedregon's Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang covered the Texas Motorplex's all-concrete quartermile in 4.982 seconds at 309.70 mph, while Skuza lost traction at the start and posted a slower 13.768 at 51.25. Gary Scelzi, Warren Johnson and Antron Brown were also winners in their pro categories at the $1.6 million race, the fifth of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. It was Pedregon's second win of the season, and first at the Motorplex. "It's a tough business to control your emotions when you have $100,000 on the line," Pedregon said. "You say to yourself that you'll go a few rounds and then think about it. Then, before you know it, you're in the semifinals staring at that big bag of money. You try to forget about it, and the announcers are always telling you you're one step closer to winning it. I tell you, I was about to throw up there a few times." Pedregon, who rebounded from a fire in qualifying on Friday, says finishing the weekend with his seventh career victory was sweet. "I've never been so anxious to win a race," Pedregon said. "It was just a roller coaster for me all weekend. We were on fire Friday, then I had to watch my brothers race. Then, I was pretty emotional after that semifinal round win over Cruz. It was a good clean race against Cruz. Then I had to get ready for Skuza in the final and he's a great racer. I feel a lot better now that the race is over. I have learned to enjoy these because they are few and far between." It brings the powerful Castrol team's victory total to a clean sweep in 1999, as either Pedregon or team owner John Force have claimed every Funny Car win this season. "It's nice to be in a position to take advantage of the little bit of success we're having," Pedregon said. "But we're not going to let it go to our heads. Someone asked me if this was better than '96? I said, no way, because we dominated back then. This year there's several guys who are right on the edge of running better than we are. They've just had some problems." Pedregon, who became eligible for the Winston No Bull Challenge through a pre-race, lottery-style drawing, is the second driver in as many races to pocket the lucrative bonus offered by R.J. Reynolds. "The money is going to come in handy," Pedregon said. "We're running these cars hard and it's costing us. You go over and look in our pit area and we've got some dead soldiers lying around. It costs a little money. As long as we can keep winning these things and getting these bonuses, I think we're going to be pretty healthy and able to stay after it." Pedregon remained in second in the Winston point standings, 74 behind leader Force, who nearly failed to qualify, but earned the No. 1 spot in the final qualifying session. Force, a winner of three straight entering the event, lost in the second round to Cory Lee. Defending Winston Top Fuel champion Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., ended his early season slump by defeating Doug Kalitta in a close Top Fuel final. Scelzi ran 4.563 at 319.60 in his Team Winston dragster, crossing the finish line just in front of Kalitta's dragster, which ran 4.588 at 318.02. "This was a do or die situation," said Scelzi, who has suffered three first round losses and one DNQ to start the new season. "We knew if we didn't turn things around right away, we could kiss the Winston championship good-bye. I really put a lot of pressure on myself to win this race and it was a big relief to do it. When I saw the win light come on it was a big lift." The race against Kalitta's American International Airways dragster was a side-by-side barn-burner, that needed a photo finish to determine the winner. "I knew that Doug was going to be tough in the final," Scelzi said. "They've been running good and we were ready for them. It was a heck of a race. What a great feeling to win it and get this thing turned around." Scelzi moves into 10th in the Winston point standings, while Mike Dunn remains in the lead over Tony Schumacher. Johnson, from Buford, Ga., scored his second Pro Stock victory of the season, defeating defending event champion Mike Edwards. Johnson ran 6.945 at 198.85 in his GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird, while Edwards was slightly off the pace, running 7.002 at 196.72 in the Dewco Chevrolet Camaro. "This car appears to have a wide window with what we are able to do with it," Johnson said. "With the way we're running it, we've found that we can get aggressive now. We learned some stuff last year and now we're running the car completely differently with gearing and the clutch setup. The car is showing some stuff that I think will show dividends on down the road." The win was Johnson's second of the season, and 74th of his career, moving him into position as NHRA's second-winningest pro driver. "You always enjoy winning," Johnson said. "It's the losing that gets to you, because that means something went wrong, whether it's with the driver or the car setup. As a team we pride ourselves on getting everything right and winning races." Johnson remained in second in the Winston point standings, 34 points behind his point-leading son Kurt. Brown, from Chesterfield, N.J. drove his Troy Vincent-owned Suzuki to his first career Pro Stock Motorcycle victory when Angelle Seeling fouled at the start on her Team Winston Suzuki. Brown's Team 23 Suzuki covered the distance in 7.406 at 185.49. "I'm stoked," said Brown, who was 14 the last time the bikes competed at the Texas Motorplex. "I almost cried at the other end. I've wanted this for a long time. I'm glad that the bikes have returned to the Motorplex because this is an awesome facility. I can't thank Vance & Hines enough for giving me great horsepower to get this bike down the track." He was ready for a tough race with Seeling, winner of the Mac Tools Gatornationals earlier this season. "Every time I race Angelle we both push the tree real hard and get after it," Brown said. "If you don't, the race is gone, especially with the way she's riding and her bike is performing. I thought she got a jump on me but then I saw I had the win light. I was so happy I almost hit the guardrail at the end there because I knew I won." With the win, Brown moved into second in the Winston standings, 45 points behind leader Seeling. The next NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event is the fifth annual Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto, April 29-May 2 at Virginia Motorsports Park, Dinwiddie, Va.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Cory Lee , Mike Edwards