Cruz Pedregon Reaches Second Final in a Row Advance Auto Parts Racing Team Hitting It's Stride KENT, Wash. (July 25, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car continues to impress, making it to...
Cruz Pedregon Reaches Second Final in a Row
Advance Auto Parts Racing Team Hitting It's Stride
KENT, Wash. (July 25, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car continues to impress, making it to a second-straight NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series final round during today's national event at Pacific Raceways. This performance paralleled his final-round appearance during last weekend's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Pedregon matched up against old rival John Force in the final, just missing a chance to defeat the 12-time Funny Car champ at the end. It was a close race to start, as Pedregon held a .037 to .099 of a second reaction time advantage off the line. But, it wasn't enough to hold off Force's 4.896-second elapsed time at 309.34 mph; as Pedregon drove to a 5.633-second lap at 194.91 mph.
"I got off the line in good shape," Pedregon said. "I didn't see John at first, and I thought at about the 300-foot mark, if we could have hung in there, we had a real shot at a win. At that moment, we spun the tires, lost traction and overpowered the track. I got it to recover -- being on and off the throttle a couple of times -- but it just wasn't to be. John made a great run, and you can't take anything away from them. He made a pass that was a little stronger than I thought the track would even hold -- John is a great champion. We were in the final and we moved closer to Tony for ninth place in points."
Pedregon, who defeated Force in the 1992 NHRA Funny Car title chase, moved into the finals by defeating Tony Bartone in round one, Tim Wilkerson in round two and Whit Bazemore in the semifinals. Pedregon likens these battles to another sport that exudes toughness.
"Every round was like a heavyweight fight," Pedregon commented. "We had points leaders and guys trying to win championships, and we're trying to move up and get into the middle of it ourselves. A final round is a final round -- there are 20 other cars that would have loved to of been in our position. To go to two straight finals, and qualify in the top half of the field for six-straight races, despite all of the changes with rules and weather conditions, this team has adapted and reacted amazingly. (Crew chief) Wes Cerny is such a wiley veteran -- and I'm really pleased with the way he has adapted to everything. I feel like this team is really showing signs of what we're made of. I don't want to sound overconfident because I've been around long enough to know the next race could be a tough one - but we're definitely in the hunt."
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS RACING NOTEBOOK:
STARTING LINE ADVANTAGE: Cruz Pedregon has been on his driving game recently. This weekend's race at Pacific Raceways was no exception, as Pedregon took starting-line advantages in every round of competition today. Pedregon won the 1992 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship with similar performances.
"I'm trying to do all that I possibly can to increase this team's chances to win," Pedregon said. "I really feel good about how I'm driving right now. This is the way I want to drive; being aggressive and taking it to people. Whether you have a good car or not, the sign of a good driver is someone who gets out there, and gets after it. There are times in drag racing where I can help the car out, and there are other times the car can help you. When we can bring the two together -- having a good car and being sharp at the starting line -- that's when you win races."
POINTS BATTLE: Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car team are making their own move in the points race. With this weekend's final-round appearance, Pedregon only sits a single point out of ninth. Ironically, his brother and teammate Tony Pedregon sits just ahead at 681.