Joliet: Cruz Pedregon preview

Advice from Force may help Pedregon conquer Chicago CHICAGO (June 4) -- Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon has claimed 27 victories in his illustrious career, and just like the NHRA series itself, Pedregon's wins have spanned the country. From his...

Advice from Force may help Pedregon conquer Chicago

CHICAGO (June 4) -- Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon has claimed 27 victories in his illustrious career, and just like the NHRA series itself, Pedregon's wins have spanned the country. From his native Los Angeles to the New York suburbs, down to the Deep South and across to California's renowned Sonoma Valley -- Pedregon has celebrated at almost every point on the drag racing map.

But for all the successes he's enjoyed in his 8,000-horsepower Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara, the 44-year-old has yet to score in Chicago, a track so close to his new shop in Brownsburg. Ind., that he can drive himself to the race.

"It's one of the few tracks where I haven't won and I was thinking about that on the drive over. I haven't even been to the finals there," said Pedregon, who has claimed trophies at 14 of the 20 tracks on the schedule and raced to at least a runner-up finish at five of the remaining six. "It's just the way it's come down. It's not the track or any sort of bad luck omen, it just hasn't happened for us there yet, but it will."

Currently a lofty fourth in the POWERade world rankings, Pedregon found an unusual way to prepare for this weekend's Route 66 NHRA Nationals. On Wednesday evening, Pedregon and fellow Funny Car racer Ron Capps will represent the NHRA at the fourth annual Old Spice Prelude to the Dream charity race at Eldora Speedway in Ohio.

The Prelude to the Dream pits several of the top drivers in the country, mostly from NASCAR, against one another for 25 action-packed laps in 800-horsepower Late Model Stock Cars with all proceeds benefiting the Victory Junction Gang Camp II in Kansas City and the Tony Stewart Foundation. Drivers scheduled to appear include Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Bill Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, and many others.

"Any time you can strap in a racecar it helps with your mental preparation," Pedregon said. "There aren't many similarities between the cars or the way you drive them but the competitive focus you need is the same as drag racing.

"I remember John Force telling me one time back in the early '90s when we were going at it every weekend, he said, 'between national events, I go find a match race while you're at home sleeping. So I get that many more passes, that many more chances to practice my reaction times, that many more lessons, it's made me better.' I think there's a lot of truth in that. So even though the Prelude is for fun and for charity, I plan on treating it like a training session for this weekend's race.

"Rahn Tobler has the Advance Auto Parts car in great shape and we've had a weekend of racing with the new Solara body so we're ahead of the game. Chicago can be a great racetrack when the weather is right. I'd love to add Rote 66 to the list of places where we've been fortunate enough to win the race."

-credit: pr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Ron Capps , John Force , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Cruz Pedregon , Kasey Kahne , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin