Memphis: Cruz Pedregon final report

Pedregon stays in title hunt with second-round finish MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 28) -- Cruz Pedregon remains one of the chief players in this year's POWERade championship chase after advancing to the elite eight in Sunday's 21st annual Mid-South ...

Pedregon stays in title hunt with second-round finish

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 28) -- Cruz Pedregon remains one of the chief players in this year's POWERade championship chase after advancing to the elite eight in Sunday's 21st annual Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park. Pedregon scored a huge upset over second-ranked racer Jerry Toliver before bowing to Robert Hight by .006 seconds in a razor-close, quarterfinal match-up.

After crushing Toliver with a huge 4.131-second pass at 297.94 mph that delivered a fairly easy .031-second victory for the Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara team, Pedregon drew Hight in Round 2. Hight was one of only two racers that had run quicker than Pedregon in the opening session, having recorded a 4.125.

This time the two drivers posted nearly identical 4.22-second runs, with Hight inching ahead to take the stripe by a fender.

"It was a very tight race and certainly could have gone either way," Pedregon said. "I think both teams were probably asking themselves what happened that round because it's obvious we both pulled back a little too much. Still, this was a good day. Any time you go rounds out here you've accomplished something.

"When I got back to the pits Rahn (Tobler, crew chief) came right up and said, 'Hey, that one's on me.' He told me he got something in his head and just pulled back more than he should have. That's why I love the guy. He's a straight shooter."

The ultimate difference came at the launch when Hight left in .047 seconds to Pedregon's .059-second start.

"I had a good light; he had a better light," said Pedregon, the 1992 world champion. "I've been very pleased with my reaction times all year but no matter what, you're not always going to be the guy that leaves first.

"We'll be fine. There are still three races left to go and it's anyone's championship at this point. We're only halfway through the playoffs. The Countdown to 1 makes the point race seem bigger but it's the same as it's been all year. This team is one of the best in the world and I'll be just as proud of them if we finish 10th as if we win the championship. The effort has been superb all season."

Pedregon remains within one race of points leader Tim Wilkerson and is just two rounds behind second place. The POWERade Drag Racing Series takes a weekend off before moving to Virginia Motorsports Park Oct. 10-12 for the Virginia NHRA Nationals.

-credit: pr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon , Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver , Robert Hight