INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 7, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to the party at Brainerd (MN) Int'l Raceway next weekend for the NHRA Nationals, the...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 7, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to the party at Brainerd (MN) Int'l Raceway next weekend for the NHRA Nationals, the 16th of 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in 2006. Pedregon retains ninth place in the NHRA point standings after the last round in Sonoma.
NHRA's version of a weeklong campout, Brainerd is a popular stop due to the area's recreational opportunities. Because Brainerd Int'l Raceway is situated in the midst of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, avid fishers among the racing ranks often spend the days before the race trolling the area's many lakes for walleye, bass, and northern pike. The fans, including many Canadians, are among the most rabid on the tour. A huge onsite campground provides nightly camaraderie for race fans who sit around campfires discussing the day's action. A 700-foot concrete launchpad, one of the longest on the tour, helps boost performances.
"We are looking forward to the race at Brainerd this weekend," Pedregon said of the next NHRA event. "Brainerd has a different atmosphere with really neat surroundings. The fans love it because of all of the big parties - it's a lot of fun. The track is special to me because my win there in 1992 kicked off our championship run that year with the first of five wins in a row. Although we've been average through the first half of the season, we're hoping to put things together there and maybe find that same magic again, particularly now since we've sorted out some things that have been causing problems. With eight races to go, it's really an important stretch in the season for every team. It seems like these last eight events are more critical than the races at the beginning of the year because earlier in the year, if you have a bad weekend, you always feel you have time to make up for it. Teams are pushing hard to try to align themselves for a top-10 points finish or a championship run or, in our case, to try to win our second race of the year. I'm very confident we'll go to Minnesota, have our act together, qualify well and have a good race day."
During his rookie season in Funny Car in 1992, Pedregon won the NHRA world championship. With this accomplishment he became the only racer other than John Force to win the championship in the 90s. In 1997, Pedregon was also the first motorsports athlete to receive the "Premio De Oro," the only national award for Hispanic athletes. Born into a racing family, Pedregon's father, Frank, raced Top Fuel dragsters in the 1960s. His brothers Tony and Frank also compete in the Nitro Funny Car ranks. In 1980, Cruz won his first official drag race at the age of 15, driving a 1953 Kenworth truck.
After conquering the quarter-mile Brainerd Int'l Raceway next weekend, the NHRA warriors head to the Mid-South Nationals at Memphis (TN) Motorsports Park on August 18-20.