CRUZ PEDREGON RACING ANNOUNCES USAC CHAMPION AND NASCAR ROOKIE JOSH WISE AS 2007 USAC NATIONAL MIDGET CAR SERIES DRIVER
Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, Tulsa, OK -- January 12, 2007) -- Cruz Pedregon Racing took the opportunity at the renowned Chili Bowl Midget Nationals to announce today that 2006 USAC National Midget Car Series Champion Josh Wise will pilot the #71 Cruz Pedregon Racing Toyota-powered midget car in 23 races during the 2007 season. Both Pedregon and Wise are participating in the Tulsa, OK-based event, the most prestigious midget race of the year with more than 280 entries.
The Cruz Pedregon Racing 2007 schedule will include high-profile USAC Midget Car Series dates on both the west coast and in the Midwest, beginning and ending the season in California and Arizona, with select key races during the summer months taking place in the middle part of the country.
"One of the goals in setting up our Toyota midget engine program was to provide a place for our Toyota-powered NASCAR teams to assist in their evaluation and development of up-and-coming talent," said Gary Reed, vice president of Special Racing Projects for TRD, U.S.A., (Toyota Racing Development). "Josh is the first of the young guns to have the opportunity to do just this. Together, with Cruz Pedregon, he will have the chance to develop his racing skills and provide race fans across the country the opportunity to see a star in the making."
Pedregon will be busy making a championship run in his Advance Auto Parts NHRA Nitro Funny Car in 2007, but will also continue make time in his schedule to support USAC Midget racing by owning both dirt and pavement cars in addition to his Funny Car operation. The midget car will be Toyota powered with a Spike chassis taking to the dirt and a Gerhardt chassis utilized on pavement. Veteran open-wheel car owner and one of the top mechanical minds in all of racing Larry Trigueiro will oversee both team manager and crew chief responsibilities for the team, which will have shops based in both Fresno, Calif., and Indianapolis, Ind.
"Everyone at Cruz Pedregon Racing is very excited to have Josh join our USAC team heading into the 2007 season," Pedregon said of Wise. "Midget racing is one of the most competitive forms of the sport, and it's important to not only have the right mechanical package -- which we now do with our new Toyota engine -- but also the right talent behind the wheel. Having Josh in the driver's seat gives us the piece to that puzzle that will surely give us wins on a consistent basis. Although he has committed to a NASCAR program, he chose our team for his USAC efforts because he knows we can provide him with the best chance to win."
Wise was recently named as driver in the Michael Waltrip Racing NASCAR development program.
"I knew I wanted to continue racing open-wheel cars, even after I signed to drive for Michael Waltrip Racing in NASCAR. I started talking with the Pedregon team near the end of last year, and was hopeful to put together a limited program for 2007. I am grateful that both Cruz and Larry were able to offer me what I need to provide a top-level effort for their team this year. I am really happy that I'll be able to continue racing in USAC with a team that will allow me every opportunity to win races for them, which was my key requirement in choosing what I wanted to do this year after winning the USAC championship in 2006. Hopefully this is a partnership that will last a long time."