ENNIS, Texas -- Realistically, Tony Pedregon knows he's racing for second place in the 199 Winston Funny Car driver standings. The only driver with even a mathematical chance of denying Castrol teammate John Force his ninth championship...
ENNIS, Texas -- Realistically, Tony Pedregon knows he's racing for second place in the 199 Winston Funny Car driver standings. The only driver with even a mathematical chance of denying Castrol teammate John Force his ninth championship of the decade, Pedregon returns this week (Oct. 22-24) to the Texas Motorplex more interested in protecting second place than chasing first. "We're coming in (to the 14th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Castrol SYNTEC) with a lot of momentum," said the 34-year-old driver of the world's quickest Funny Car, the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang, "but it would be almost impossible to catch John. So our goal, really, is to win the race and to lock up second place." Having put his Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang on the pole at two of the last three NHRA national events, having posted the top Funny Car speed at the last three tour stops and having earned runner-up honors at the most recent event in the series (the AutoZone Nationals at Memphis, Tenn.), Pedregon is primed to become the first pro driver to win twice in a season at the Motorplex. The 34-year-old resident of Chino Hills, Calif., buried the competition en route to victory in last April's Castrol Nationals, earning the biggest payday of his career by claiming the $100,000 Winston No Bull bonus in addition to the race purse. En route, the youngest of the racing Pedregon brothers joined Force as the only other member of the 320 Mile-An-Hour Club by pushing his Mustang to a track record-tying 322.81 miles per hour. Now, he hopes to sweep the Motorplex mini-series at the wheel of the same SYNTEC Ford he drove to a best-ever quarter mile of 4.779 seconds last March at Gainesville, Fla. "We've had a car capable of winning the last four races," Pedregon said, "but it just hasn't worked out. We just have to keep putting ourselves in a position to win. We think we can win a couple more races before the season is over." Between them, Force and Pedregon have won 12 of the 19 races contested thus far. In addition to his earlier victory at the Motorplex, Pedregon claimed the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and, for the second straight year, the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Denver, Colo. But for his mentor, Pedregon no doubt would be the season's dominant Funny Car driver. Already, he has set personal records for single season victories (three) and poles (four) as well as for rounds won in a single season (37). Furthermore, he's posted top speed of the meet six times, appeared in seven final rounds and, in addition to joining Force in the 320 MPH Club, also has earned membership in the exclusive 4.80 Second Club -- which also has but two members. All of that has put the second generation pro, son of the late Top Fuel driver "Flaming Frank" Pedregon, into a position to finish second in the world for the third time in four years -- each time behind his Castrol teammate.
O'Reilly Nationals presented by Castrol SYNTEC Oct. 22-24, 1999 Texas Motorplex Ennis, Texas
Motorplex starts: 7 Times No. 1 qualifier: 1 (1996 O'Reilly Nationals) Final round appearances: 1 Event wins: 1 (1999 Castrol Nationals) Won-Lost Record: 11-6 Best performances at the Motorplex: 4.872 seconds, Oct. 23, 1998 322.81 mph, April 25, 1999 Noteworthy: After a spring victory in the Castrol Nationals, Tony is trying to become the first pro driver to sweep the spring-fall events at the Motorplex.
Tony was the fifth member of the Castrol 4-Second Funny Car Club....Tony is one of only seven drivers to have led the Winston Funny Car standings over the last seven seasons....Tony has qualified for 92 consecutive Winston Series races....Tony has lost to his boss in three final rounds this season -- at Houston, Richmond, Va., and St. Louis, Mo....Tony painted the custom helmets worn by his brothers, Frank and Cruz, by John Force, by Top Fuel drivers Cory McClenathan and Doug Kalitta and by Pro Stock title contender Jeg Couglin Jr....after his first season with Team Castrol, Tony was named the 1996 winner of the AAA of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which identifies the future stars of the NHRA series.