Press conferences are a dime a dozen, particularly at trade shows like the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) behemoth in downtown Indianapolis.
But when the Pedregon brothers have a new gig to detail, all of the regular rules go out the window. As everyone already knows, Cruz and Tony Pedregon now have their own NHRA PowerAde funny car team now. Two number ones and two teams under one roof and each owned by the driver. Cruz and Tony. Tony and Cruz. The only two guys to interrupt John Force's strong hold on Funny Car competition.
Today, Quaker State and Tony Pedregon announced a four-year alliance that will have this year's PowerAde Funny Car champ in his own team car run out of a shop he'll share with older brother Cruz, the only other guy to unseat Force over the past dozen years.
Quaker State, of course, has a big presence in NASCAR and CART, but its marketability in the NHRA has been undervalued over the last few years. They're in this to "improve the quality of our products and to connect with consumers," according to James Stone, director of Quaker State brand management. "There was a hole in our sponsorship" portfolio, he admitted.
In finally acknowledging the change of team and affiliation, Tony Pedregon became emotional, voice cracking and eyes tearing. He has "two different approaches to this. It's a big step from driver to car owner but now that I've won the championship, I know I have ability in the race car. I have to thank Quaker State for their belief in the sport of drag racing."
It wasn't easy for Tony Pedregon to leave the John Force Racing stable, where he'd competed for eight years, particularly after beating team owner John Force this season. Yet "this was a very natural evolution," Tony said as he emphasized, "John was very supportive. This was the dream of two brothers to build a competitive team. I'm making a lateral transition competitively," he noted.
The ultimate goal for Tony was to "form a team, race with my brother and race for a fine company like Quaker State. After all, this sport is built on competition. [My job is to] bring Quaker State to the winners' circle. That's my responsibility.
Among active NHRA PowerAde Funny Car active drivers, Tony Pedregon ranks second in wins, while Cruz Pedregon ranks third. The man they're both chasing of course is Force, still number one in the Funny Car hit parade.