Las Vegas: Tony Pedregon preview

Pedregon seeks first Las Vegas win. LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 28-30) -- The streak is over, but the quest continues. Tony Pedregon's string of consecutive sub-5.00 second quarter miles may have ended at 28, but the 37-year-old's bid for the 2003...

Pedregon seeks first Las Vegas win.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 28-30) -- The streak is over, but the quest continues.

Tony Pedregon's string of consecutive sub-5.00 second quarter miles may have ended at 28, but the 37-year-old's bid for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship continues unabated this week in the fourth annual SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Pedregon, tabbed in a pre-season poll as the man most likely to supplant boss and teammate John Force as series champion, was victimized three weeks ago at Gainesville, Fla., by a clogged oiling channel that caused a pushrod failure in the Castrol SYNTEC0 Ford Mustang.

That ended a streak spanning nine events in which the California pro had covered the standard distance in 4.974 seconds or better.

Nevertheless, Pedregon and Crew Chiefs John Medlen and Dickie Venables don't consider the Gainesville result anything more than a minor speed bump on the road to a title that has been Force's for 10 straight years and for 12 of the last 13.

"We knew (the streak) wouldn't last forever," Pedregon said, "but I think it showed that we can perform at a high level in variety of conditions and that's what it takes to win the championship. That's the kind of consistency that has kept John on top for so long."

Of course, if he is to start a new streak, he'll have to reverse his recent fortunes in the SummitRacing.com Nationals, an event in which he has been ousted in the first round the last two years after reaching the finals his first time out (in 2000).

"There are no easy races anymore," Pedregon said. "Everyone loads up for us. But I think that brings out the best in this team."

Second to Force in the driver standings four of the last seven seasons, Pedregon rolls into Las Vegas in third place in POWERade points behind teammate Gary Densham and veteran Ron Capps.

"We're not going to sneak up on anyone this year," Pedregon said. "They know that we have a good race car and they're going to come after us."

Indeed, Pedregon's SYNTEC Mustang has posted the quickest time in each of the season's first three events and scored impressively with a victory in the season-opening K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.

Winner of at least one tour event every year since he came on board as driver of the second of the John Force Racing Funny Cars, Pedregon extended his boss to the final race of the 2002 season before losing the POWERade Championship by a scant 78 points.

"I've been pretty lucky in Vegas -- everywhere except the racetrack," Pedregon laughed, acknowledging a slot machine success or two, "but I feel really good about our preparation and the way the car is performing right now.`I expect us to be right in there, starting with qualifying."

Pedregon has set the qualifying pace at two of the three races contested thus far this season and at seven of the last 13 events in the series but he's never qualified better than second at The Strip and has started no higher than No. 7 in three previous appearances in the SummitRacing.com Nationals.

-www.johnforceracing.com

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Densham , John Medlen