Englishtown: Cruz Pedregon final report

Pedregon finds a positive in otherwise forgettable weekend ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 22) -- The list of Funny Car racers on the POWERade Drag Racing Series that have successfully qualified for every race this season is down to three after former...

Pedregon finds a positive in otherwise forgettable weekend

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 22) -- The list of Funny Car racers on the POWERade Drag Racing Series that have successfully qualified for every race this season is down to three after former world champion Cruz Pedregon failed to find a spot in the elimination field for his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara for the first time this season.

Pedregon was denied a chance to make all four qualifying attempts after the untimely death of fellow racer and friend Scott Kalitta, who succumbed to injuries suffered in an accident at the start of the fourth session. The shocking event put a pall over the race and left Pedregon feeling sad over the loss of his longtime on-track rival.

"I'm sick about all of this but I think it's best to remember all the good times and great races we had against Scott," Pedregon said. "I respected him a great deal as a competitor. He was a two-time champion for a reason and he was certainly someone I never took for granted. You knew you had a race on your hands when Scott was in the other lane.

"Once I got to know him I found him to be a really cool guy that just loved to drag race. He was always quick with a smile and I will miss seeing him out here. We're racers and we know the risks. It doesn't make it any easier, but it's what we do and Scott loved the sport."

Pedregon's best run of the first three sessions was a 5.766 at 187.52 mph. He needed at least a 5.319-second pass to make the field.

"My job is to qualify this car so I'm not happy with this result," the 27-time national event winner said. "But after talking with Rahn [Tobler, crew chief] I'm actually pretty excited about moving forward and getting on to next weekend's race in Norwalk, Ohio.

"Rahn is a true veteran. He doesn't have any ego. We sat down after Q3 yesterday and he told me he had flat-out made too many changes to the car over the past few races. He said it's time to put this Advance Auto Parts Toyota back to the way it was in Houston and start going down the track every pass. We were prepared to do that in Q4 and he was sure it was going to slide it in there. Certainly we could have run quicker than 5.31. But everything happened the way it did and all we can do is move on."

Pedregon will be back in action Friday at Norwalk Raceway Park in Northwest Ohio.

"It's a track I'm very familiar with because I matched raced there a bunch for the Bader family," he said. "The fans are very interested in what we do and that's always cool."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon , Scott Kalitta