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Gibbs Names Funny Car Crew Chief
INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 24, 1997) -- NHRA team owner Joe Gibbs has named Wes Cerny crew chief for his newly-sponsored Interstate Batteries/Hot Rod Magazine Pontiac Funny Car, driven by Cruz Pedregon.
"Wes has had an outstanding career and we are delighted that he is now on board with us," said Gibbs. "I feel that the pieces of the puzzle are now in place to contend for the Funny Car series championship next season. With Wes tuning the Funny Car and Mike Green (Gibbs' Top Fuel crew chief) tuning the dragster, it's like having two first-string quarterbacks."
Cerny, 52, of Fallbrook, Calif., became well known in recent years as a successful tuner on the Top Fuel dragster owned by Don Prudhomme and driven by Larry Dixon. But in reality, it was in the early 1990s that Cerny started to etch his name as a blue chip crew chief when he worked on the Hawaiian Funny Car, owned by Roland Leong and driven by Jim White.
In 1991, Cerny's first full-season as a crew chief, the Hawaiian Funny Car, finished second in the point standings, won four races in eight final rounds, recorded the three quickest elapsed times of the season and reset the national speed record five times.
Cerny's 1991 accomplishments also included winning the U.S. Nationals and the special Big Bud Shootout in the same weekend at Indianapolis.
Cerny joined Kenny Bernstein's Top Fuel team in 1992 and was credited with helping Bernstein become the first driver to go 300 miles per hour (301.70).
After two seasons with Bernstein, Cerny was hired by Don Prudhomme in 1994, which was Prudhomme's final season as a driver. With Cerny tuning, Prudhomme ended his driving career by finishing second in the Top Fuel season point standings. Cerny continued with Don Prudhomme Racing though the 1997 season.
"This is a great opportunity," said Cerny, who also raises and breeds African grey parrots. "I wanted to be part of a two-car team that had good rapport and good personnel. Joe (Gibbs) had this available along with a tremendous organization. I look forward to sharing experiences and information with the Top Fuel team, which will give both of us a better chance of winning."
The Funny Car team also announced a new crew member in Scott Wibel, who previously worked on Whit Bazemore's team. Along with Wibel, the Funny Car crew will consist of four members from Gibbs' 1997 team -- Dave Fletcher, Jason McCulloch, Kirk Butterfield and Wade Crews. Fletcher will oversee the day-to-day operations at the team's shop in Indianapolis.