Bristol: Tony Pedregon at the Showdown

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Although teammate John Force has been a magnet for media attention this week (July 7-9) as the defending champion in the Winston No Bull Showdown, Tony Pedregon has projected a quiet confidence that may serve him well in the...

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Although teammate John Force has been a magnet for media attention this week (July 7-9) as the defending champion in the Winston No Bull Showdown, Tony Pedregon has projected a quiet confidence that may serve him well in the unique Funny Car versus Top Fuel format that identifies the NHRA's official All-Star event.

The 35-year-old Pedregon, youngest of three racing brothers, came into the All-Star break off two solid performances at the wheel of the world's quickest Funny Car, a Castrol SYNTEC™ Ford in which he was covered the quarter mile in as few as 4.779 seconds.

Three weeks ago, the Chino Hills, Calif., turned in his best qualifying effort of the season when he took the No. 2 spot at the Sears Craftsman Nationals at Madison, Ill. A week before that, he ended an 11 month victory drought by beating points leader Jerry Toliver in the final round of the Pontiac Excitement Nationals at Columbus, Ohio.

Obviously, with a $200,000 winner's purse posted at Bristol Dragway, the nine-time tour winner is peaking at just the right time.

To further enhance his bid, Pedregon will benefit from one of the new generation Mustang bodies designed by Tim Gibson and built by Roush Racing. That body, which uses more stock Mustang dimensions and features atypical mounting locations for the braking parachutes, has undergone extensive testing the last several weeks.

After testing the last three weeks at Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis and Norwalk, Ohio, Crew Chiefs Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and John Medlen now feel as confident about the new body as they did after leaving the wind tunnel last March.

Handling problems, which delayed the debut of the new design for two races, ultimately were traced not to the body, but to chassis hardware designed to accommodate it. After Pedregon was clocked last Saturday at 4.91 seconds, 313 miles per hour (and Force in 4.87) in a match race appearance at Norwalk, however, all earlier concerns were totally erased.

Although they race as teammates, the cars driven by Pedregon and Force are by no means identical.

While Force uses the proven four-disc clutch and an SSI supercharger, Medlen employs a Gibson-Miller supercharger and an often inconsistent five-disc clutch. As a result, each car reacts differently to certain track and atmospheric conditions.

"We've been working on this combination for the last two years," Pedregon said, "and I think we've made some good progress the last few races. To win a championship, you have to have consistency. I think that's where we've suffered. Our car has been quick and fast but it hasn't always been as consistent as John's car or some of the others against whom we compete every week."

Pedregon will need that consistency at Bristol where the championship is decided in five rounds of racing instead of four.

Guaranteed one of the 12 Funny Car starting spots on the strength of his most recent tour victory, Pedregon is looking forward to racing against the Top Fuel dragsters.

"I wouldn't want to do it on a regular basis," Pedregon said, "but it's easy to get motivated when you see Gary Scelzi or Kenny Bernstein over in the other lane. It's an interesting format

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Tim Gibson , Jerry Toliver , Austin Coil , John Medlen