Drag racer Cruz Pedregon fulfills his goals in Eldora ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 4) -- Drag racing champion Cruz Pedregon had three goals heading into Wednesday night's fourth annual Old Spice Prelude to the Dream charity race at Eldora Speedway --...
Drag racer Cruz Pedregon fulfills his goals in Eldora
ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 4) -- Drag racing champion Cruz Pedregon had three goals heading into Wednesday night's fourth annual Old Spice Prelude to the Dream charity race at Eldora Speedway -- help raise money for the critically ill children supported by the Victory Junction Gang, have a respectable showing in his #71 Advance Auto Parts racecar, and finish ahead of fellow drag racer Ron Capps.
Done, done, and done.
"We had a great time but I'll tell you right now, I'm exhausted," Pedregon said. "I'm so happy to have raced pretty well and to have represented NHRA drag racing and Advance Auto Parts tonight. It's cool that Tony Stewart invites me to this deal every year because I know a lot of guys want in so it's important to race hard and give all these fans their money's worth."
Despite the fact Pedregon spent the better part of his evening avoiding crashes and eating the dirt of the cars in front of him on the famous half-mile dirt oval, the straight-line expert proved quite adept at turning circles.
After qualifying a distant 23rd in a field of 25 drivers, mostly from the world of NASCAR, Pedregon quickly showed he belonged among the best circuit racers in the world by climbing from eighth to fifth place in Heat 2, passing the likes of superstars Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, and Bill Elliott during the time trial.
When the main feature started, Pedregon once again started near the back in the 23rd position, but this time, with 25 laps to work his way up, he managed to get around seven cars and earn the No. 15 finishing spot. Pedregon's victims this time included Capps, a fellow Funny Car driver on the NHRA tour with whom he had a side bet.
"Ron's a great racer; I'm not sure what happened to his car but he fell back at the end there," Pedregon said. "There's a lot going on in the race and you can't see everything. I just know we passed him at some point. A lot of dirt racing is just surviving and it seems like I spent the night just surviving. It's a battle of attrition.
"It was very competitive out there but I was expecting that after last year. I know how hard these guys race and even though we're having fun, whenever you put a bunch of racers together and put a trophy up there for the winner, everyone gets into race mode real quick."
In the end, the biggest beneficiary was Kyle Petty's Victory Junction Gang, who received a check from race organizer and winner Tony Stewart for $1 million. The amount, which was raised through gate receipts from an announced crowd of 25,000 fans in attendance and the revenue raise on HBO's pay-per-view broadcast, pushed this year's total number of dollars raised to an all-time high.
"I'm glad to help," Pedregon said. "I'm a soft touch for kids that need help. I'm already looking forward to seeing everyone again next year."