Pedregon Picks Gardner to Drive Midget at Ventura Advance Auto Parts Entry Back In Action VENTURA, Calif. (April 13, 2005) -- NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon has picked Damion Gardner to pilot his No. 71C Advance...
Pedregon Picks Gardner to Drive Midget at Ventura
Advance Auto Parts Entry Back In Action
VENTURA, Calif. (April 13, 2005) -- NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon has picked Damion Gardner to pilot his No. 71C Advance Auto Parts midget for the upcoming United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States Midget Series race at Ventura Raceway on April 23.
Gardner, of nearby Concord, Calif., is an up and coming star within the Western states sprint car ranks. This season, Gardner, 28, has already posted two USAC/CRA (California Racing Association) sprint car victories and set fast time at five of the first six events. Gardner, voted on as the No. 1 non-winged sprint car driver in the nation during a stretch of the 2003 racing season, is quite accomplished already in his young career, including runner up in the 2004 USAC/CRA sprint car points chase.
"Damion Gardner is a heck of a driver and a winner," Pedregon said. "I'm really excited and happy to provide him with a quality car. I hand picked him because I really like his style and everything about the way he handles the car.
"I really like that he's aggressive and smooth," Pedregon added. "He's really calculated in how he approaches a race. He works on and really understands the race car. He's one of those guys that wants to know every detail of how a car is set up and how to better make that car go as fast as it can. I love that about him. It's no accident that he's won a lot of races."
As for Pedregon, who drives the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, it will be his first opportunity to witness someone else driving one of his cars in competition. Pedregon debuted and drove his Advance Auto Parts midget this past January during the 19th annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Okla.
"It is a little different for me," Pedregon said. "I will be able to experience the thrill of being a car owner. Sitting on the sidelines and watching is a different role for me, but I'm really excited about it. After you've driven for so many years, it's hard to describe how one reacts. It will be fun to watch one of my cars run at my old stomping grounds of Ventura.
"Even though this is a hobby for me, I still want to be competitive and well prepared," Pedregon said. "Advance Auto Parts is on the car, so the way I see it, the midget is a mini Funny Car program and an extension of Pedregon Racing. It's also a fresh and beautiful looking race car. I think this will be a good opportunity for Damion because he will be in some top-notch equipment."
Pedregon has a real passion for midget and sprint car racing.
"Midget racing was real strong about 10 or 15 years ago," Pedregon said. "I hope Damion, the Advance Auto Parts midget and its association to Pedregon Racing will help bring more attention to this great sport. I'm going to do my part to help promote it as well. I told my wife, Sharon, that we're going to go out there, get a hot dog and a Coke and watch our car race with some of the best midget drivers in the United States. I'm really looking forward to April 23rd.
"Jim Naylor (Ventura Raceway promoter) has been very supportive as well, and has welcomed, Damion, Sharon and I with open arms," Pedregon continued. "We're also going to have a little grudge match with Cory Kruseman, which should make the whole experience a lot of fun. And a lot of fun for the fans."