Cruz Pedregon Drives to First Final of 2005 Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Consistently Fast This Weekend BAYTOWN, Texas (April 10, 2005) -- Cruz Pedregon wielded the Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car to its first final of the 2005 NHRA ...
Cruz Pedregon Drives to First Final of 2005
Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Consistently Fast This Weekend
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 10, 2005) -- Cruz Pedregon wielded the Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car to its first final of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season during today's Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.
Pedregon made strong, consistent passes all day long, barely missing victory circle after being edged out in a close final with Robert Hight. In the final, Pedregon lapped the suburban Houston quarter mile in 4.818 seconds at 321.12 mph, but Hight ran a slightly quicker 4.786/326.16 combination.
"It was a good day for us," Pedregon said. "Of course, you always want to win and we feel like we've paid our dues as a team, but I told the guys afterwards that we rebounded in a big way.
"If you lose a race, but were in it until the finish, you've done your job," continued Pedregon on the final. "Somebody has to lose these races. It felt like we shook the tires about a 150-foot out and that might of slowed us down and cost us the race. It still would have been close either way. That Force car of Robert Hight is a strong one and was five miles an hour faster than us at the finish line. Hats off to those guys -- Robert did a good job."
Pedregon traveled to four final rounds during the second half of the 2004 season.
"We showed the same form that led us to four final rounds in the second half of last season," Pedregon said. "Qualifying was a little difficult for us, but qualifying 14th isn't the end of the world. You can win from any place in the field. Hats off to the Advance Auto Parts team and all of our great sponsors like Q Racing, Snap On and Great Stuff."
Pedregon, of Camarillo, Calif., advanced through the day by defeating Ron Capps in round one, Eric Medlen in round two and Del Worsham in the semifinals.
In the semifinal, Pedregon's 4.792-second elapsed time outlasted Worsham's 4.823-second pass. The 1992 Funny Car World Champion then demonstrated his starting line prowess in round two with a holeshot victory over Medlen. Despite running a slower 4.850-second lap at 318.84 mph, it was enough to outrun Medlen's 4.823/314.19 effort.
"When you qualify 14th, every round is a challenge," Pedregon said. "You know going in that the guy in the other lane has run quicker than you during the weekend. When you get by that first round it's a big deal. We ran a championship car in the second round too. Eric (Medlen) does a good job and that team is still real strong. It was a major task to get by them.
"The hits kept on coming with Del in the semifinal," Pedregon continued. "I could hear, feel and smell Del all the way down the track. Every race was close and it was a nail biter in the final. I had a ringside seat to all of today's excitement."
Advance Auto Parts Notebook:
GREAT START: It takes a team effort to just get to a final round of any NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event. Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car definitely portrayed that this weekend after recording .035, .064 and .069 (of a second) reaction times during three of the four rounds of competition. The team also provided Pedregon with a consistent, yet quick race car during every round of eliminations.
"I appreciate the accolades and everything, but this is a team effort," Pedregon said. "There are going to be days I'm going to need the car and team to help me. There are also days when I can help the team. But what you want as a driver; is to be at that level most of the time.
"Any time you win a round it's a boost for the team," Pedregon added.
POINTS: Cruz Pedregon's big day in the Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car vaulted him into fifth in points, only one out of fourth.
"It's important to win rounds and earn those points," Pedregon said. "We leaped from 11th to fifth and that's just awesome. The best part about it is we get to do this all over again in a few days."