Denver: Cruz Pedregon preview

Pedregon wants to be the first to 1,000-foot glory DENVER (July 9) -- Veteran Funny Car racer Cruz Pedregon has won 27 drag races and a world championship at the conventional quarter-mile length. Now he'll try to win the first ever contested to...

Pedregon wants to be the first to 1,000-foot glory

DENVER (July 9) -- Veteran Funny Car racer Cruz Pedregon has won 27 drag races and a world championship at the conventional quarter-mile length. Now he'll try to win the first ever contested to 1,000 feet at this weekend's Mile-High NHRA Nationals.

"Winning this race would be gigantic for our Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara race team," Pedregon said. "Not because it's the first one to 1,000 feet, but because we want to win a race. I look at it this way; someone is going to be holding a trophy up at about 5 p.m. Sunday night and I want it to be us.

"I'm looking at this whole 1,000-foot thing as an interim deal. It makes sense for a short-term fix but we're quarter-mile people all the way. That's the way it needs to be and we'll get back to that as soon as possible."

In response to the death of fellow Funny Car racer Scott Kalitta on June 21st in Englishtown, N.J., NHRA officials have temporarily shortened all races from 1,320 to 1,000 feet in an effort to curb top speeds of 325-plus mph and provide racers with more shutdown area to safely slow their racecars.

Accident investigators continue to examine Kalitta's accident and a permanent decision on changing the length of races for the foreseeable future hasn't been made nor has a date been set when that edict will be announced. So for now, everyone must adapt.

"Denver is at altitude so I expect we'll see 4.15-second passes at 275 mph, something like that," Pedregon said. "We're actually very in tune with our incremental numbers. They play a big part in how Rahn [Tobler, crew chief] sets up the car.

"We've always been a good ET car not so much a big speed car so I don't expect the shortened track will change how we do things. The main thing, and I can say this with certainty because I've competed in a lot of eighth-mile races, is paying attention to where you are on the track. If you're standing there looking at 320 feet, it looks like a long way, but when you're going 300 mph, 320 feet is nothing."

Denver's Bandimere Speedway is already a tricky place to race as the facility is located at a much higher altitude than the other 21 tracks on the POWERade Series. Fortunately, with experience dating back to 1990 when he was a runner-up in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class, Pedregon knows what it takes to win at Thunder Mountain.

"The good cars will still be the good cars," Pedregon said. "And our Advance Auto Parts Solara has been a good car all year. Drag racers will compete at any length and for just about any prize. It's what we do. Being the first winner of a 1,000-foot drag race would mean we won another race and took another big step towards securing a spot in the Countdown to the Championship. That would mean more than anything."

-credit: pr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon , Scott Kalitta