Joliet II: Cruz Pedregon preview

Crew Chief Wes Cerny On Board for 2005 Advance Auto Parts Races Into Chicago With Momentum CHICAGO (Sept. 30, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon has re-signed Wes Cerny to continue as Crew Chief of the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car for the...

Crew Chief Wes Cerny On Board for 2005
Advance Auto Parts Races Into Chicago With Momentum

CHICAGO (Sept. 30, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon has re-signed Wes Cerny to continue as Crew Chief of the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car for the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season.

Cerny, who has more than 40 years of drag racing experience, joined Pedregon Racing in 2003. So far this season, Pedregon and Cerny have led the Advance Auto Parts machine to four final-round appearances (Denver, Seattle, Indianapolis and Dallas), a semifinal round run (St. Louis) and a No. 1 qualifying effort at National Trail Raceway in Kirkersville, Ohio. Since the start of the West Coast swing just outside Denver, Colo., Pedregon has recorded an impressive 14 round victories and six, top-eight qualifying efforts. Pedregon credits the team's meteoric rise to Cerny's tuning abilities.

"(Crew chief) Wes Cerny is the one guy that I felt this team really needed," Pedregon said. "He's the guy I want. There isn't another crew chief out here I feel could come to our operation and make an impact. He's a difference maker for this race team.

"I'm pleased that he'll be back next year," Pedregon added. "We've come to terms and he's signed up for another year -- and hopefully beyond. Wes is happy here and sees a lot of potential on this team. It took us half the season to get to this point. I asked Wes the other day, 'Could you imagine where this team would be if we had started out the season in Pomona (Calif.) with what we know right now?' What I'm trying to accomplish here is to have a team that's capable of winning week in and week out. I feel like we have that now. On a larger scale, I want to compete for another championship. That's why I do this and Wes is definitely a key ingredient in that recipe."

Cerny has worked with many big name drivers and owners in his illustrious career including Don Moody, current Washington Redskin's head coach Joe Gibbs, defending Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon, 2000 Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher and NHRA legend Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme among others. Cerny tuned Kenny Bernstein to the sport's first 300-mph pass back in 1992.

Advance Auto Parts, Inc. is based in Roanoke, Va., and is the second largest auto parts chain in the nation. With over 2,500 stores in 39 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the company serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets. Additional information about the company, employment opportunities, services, as well as on-line purchase of parts and accessories can be found on the company's web site at www.advanceautoparts.com.

Advance Auto Parts Notebook:

FAST TIMES: Cruz Pedregon has a lot of confidence coming into this weekend's NHRA National Event at Route 66 Raceway. With a second-straight final round appearance under his belt at the most recent Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Pedregon really feels like he is on track to win one of these events.

"I'm going to guarantee we'll win a race before the year is over," Pedregon said. "I know I'm going out on a limb, but I really feel that way. I am really excited about this weekend because Chicago can be a fast track. And we are ready for any conditions and definitely like the potential for cooler conditions. As I said over this past weekend, I feel this team is ready to adapt to any weather or track condition out there.

This weekend may be NHRA's first taste of cooler fall conditions, which means a few record-breaking runs may be on tap.

"The weather always seems to play a big role at that race," Pedregon said. "There will be some 4.70s run at this race. We'll have to put our hat on backwards and let it rip. This is one of the races that team's can let it hang out and show what you have. Chicago is also a track that I have not won at before. I want to continue this roll that we're on."

TRUE TURN AROUND: If Cruz Pedregon, driver of the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car, were to write a book detailing his 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series campaign, he would call it, 'A Tale of Two Seasons.'

In the first 11 races of 2004, which started at the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway and ended at the NHRA National Event at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., Pedregon won three rounds of competition and sat 11th in points with 428.

Starting at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., this past June, Pedregon has won 16 rounds of competition and has moved up to eighth in the Funny Car point's chase. If the season were to start at GIR, Pedregon would be second in points with 579 and chasing long-time rival John Force for a second championship. The following is a break down of the top-five points earners since the GIR event on June 27.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Cruz Pedregon