Joliet: Cruz Pedregon final report

Advance Auto Parts racer Pedregon powers to third in POWERade points CHICAGO (June 8) -- Another solid outing for Cruz Pedregon and his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara Funny Car team moved the former champion back into third place in the...

Advance Auto Parts racer Pedregon powers to third in POWERade points

CHICAGO (June 8) -- Another solid outing for Cruz Pedregon and his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara Funny Car team moved the former champion back into third place in the POWERade rankings. Pedregon managed to pass legend John Force in the world rankings with a quarterfinal finish Sunday at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.

After qualifying fifth with a 4.780 at 324.51 mph, Pedregon opened race day with a 4.992 to 5.276 drubbing of rookie racer Bob Tasca III. That set up a quarterfinal race with a suddenly resurgent Scott Kalitta, the two-time Top Fuel champion that switched to Funny Car a few years ago.

This time, despite a spectacular driving job by Pedregon, Kalitta managed to get the win. Pedregon dusted his foe at the starting line with a huge .055- to .115-second reaction time advantage but his car faltered with engine trouble, allowing Kalitta to take the win with a 4.896 at 312.21 mph to Pedregon's 5.054 at 282.95 mph.

"Something weird happened with the fuel system and we ended up making the run on seven cylinders," Pedregon said. "We made a pretty good run for being down on power like that but a car running on seven cylinders is never going to beat a 4.89. We needed a pit stop about halfway down the track.

"I sensed we were in trouble after the burnout because the idle stayed real high. There was too much fuel volume in the engine and that caused the cylinder to drop. We're investigating but we haven't quite found out what happened yet but I can tell you that's pretty unusual for us."

It's been a terrific season for Pedregon as he's been ranked fourth or higher all year. He even led the points in late March after the Houston event.

"One thing I've learned is to make sure I enjoy the journey," Pedregon said. "I'm really in a good place this year. I have a terrific team and I'm convinced that [crew chief] Rahn Tobler was sent from heaven. He's so good at his job and he's just a dream to work with every day. The staff I have at the office is exceptional and the group we have handling hospitality for Advance Auto Parts is second-to-none.

"I'm in love with this new Toyota Solara. Alan Johnson [crew chief of the U.S. Army dragster] designed this thing and I went over there and told him he did a heckuva job. The guy's have been calling it the 'Red Hornet' and it totally fits. It looks like a hornet, nice and mean, so we're going to stick with that name."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Scott Kalitta , Bob Tasca III