Richmond: Cruz Pedregon Saturday notes

Historic run places Pedregon on top of Richmond field RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 11) -- Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon posted the quickest elapsed time of drag racing's 1,000-foot era when he zoomed down Virginia Motorsports Park Saturday afternoon...

Historic run places Pedregon on top of Richmond field

RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 11) -- Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon posted the quickest elapsed time of drag racing's 1,000-foot era when he zoomed down Virginia Motorsports Park Saturday afternoon with a 4.041-second pass at 306.88 mph that earned his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara team the No. 1 qualifying position heading into Sunday's eliminations.

Racing in the home state of longtime supporter Advance Auto Parts, Pedregon and crew chief Rahn Tobler decided before the event that it was time to go-for-broke in their quest for the 2008 POWERade title. As promised, the duo uncorked a candidate for NHRA's top pass of the year, much to the delight of the capacity crowd on hand at the third annual Virginia NHRA Nationals.

"It's funny because you say it doesn't mean much to be No. 1 qualifier when you don't get it but it feels awfully good when you do get it done," Pedregon said. "The crew guys love it and right now we can definitely use the points. The reality is you can flip a coin to try and guess who's going to win this race because we're all so close, but for now we're on top of the heap and we can go to sleep tonight knowing we've got a great racecar on our hands."

In all, three Funny Car pros ran 4.041s during time trials with Cruz and his brother Tony Pedregon joining Friday leader Mike Neff at the top of the timing sheet. The tie-breaker is top speed, giving Cruz the top spot (306.88 mph), Tony the No. 2 position (305.22 mph), and Neff the third slot (304.80 mph).

A Southern California native now residing in Indianapolis, Pedregon posted his 4.041 in Saturday's first session and had to watch anxiously as the other top drivers in the class tried to take his top ranking away in Round 4. But no one had enough steam to unseat the 1992 world champion.

"I felt like Swiss cheese after dodging all those bullets," Pedregon said. "I saw Melanie (Troxel) run a 4.047 so I knew the track was there. Then Tony matched our number and I had to look at the speed to see if he had moved around us. But somehow we managed to stay on top.

"It's a real credit to Rahn and the crew. Our usual method is to stay within ourselves and try to walk before we run at each track, but we all know the championship is right there within our grasp and with three races left, we figured we'd have some fun and get after it. It's time to go head to head with these guys and take them out."

At the start of the race, Cruz was sixth in the points, 115 off leader Tim Wilkerson. He already made up six points with the bonus he earned in qualifying while Wilkerson struggled a little bit.

Pedregon's first-round opponent is 16th-ranked Tony Bartone, who went 4.157 at 287.90 mph, while Wilkerson is an underdog to Ashley Force, who out-qualified the point leader by a 4.048- to 4.079-second margin.

-credit: pr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Cruz Pedregon , Tim Wilkerson , Ashley Force , Mike Neff