Commerce: Cruz Pedregon preview

Cruz Pedregon wants good performances to continue at Southern Nationals COMMERCE, Ga., May 1, 2003 - The dawning of a new month - and the performance of his Advance Auto Parts Pontiac Funny Car -- give Cruz Pedregon a reason to smile. This is...

Cruz Pedregon wants good performances to continue at Southern Nationals

COMMERCE, Ga., May 1, 2003 - The dawning of a new month - and the performance of his Advance Auto Parts Pontiac Funny Car -- give Cruz Pedregon a reason to smile.

This is one of the busiest months on the NHRA POWERade Series schedule and Pedregon looks at it as an opportunity to continue fine tuning the car. To do so takes quarter-mile runs down racetracks, and stops at Atlanta Dragway, Englishtown, N.J., Topeka, Kan., and Joliet, Ill., are on the docket in May.

First up is the Summit Racing Southern Nationals, Friday through Sunday at Atlanta Dragway, and Pedregon is ready to go.

With a good performance at last week's Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn. - including a victory over defending race champion and No. 3 qualifier Gary Densham in the opening round - Pedregon believes his team is taking advantage of every run and making the small improvements that lead to greater overall success.

"I look at that overall weekend - considering we came from not getting down the track during qualifying Friday to rebounding on Saturday and having a good showing on Sunday - and it makes me feel like we are ready to go to Atlanta with some momentum," said Pedregon. "Even though it was just getting to the quarterfinals, we have some momentum because it's still a round victory over a solid car.

"We're going to go to Atlanta to qualify better and pick up where we left off."

Pedregon does know the way to the winner's circle here. He won the Southern Nationals title in 1998 and was runner-up in 1995. He qualified No. 1 in 1998 and 1992.

One thing he and co-crew chiefs Rob Flynn and Dave Fletcher want to avoid are mechanical failures. A broken crankshaft during Saturday night's qualifying run at Bristol slowed the car while Pedregon admits he was lucky the incident didn't cause major damage. He also said the situation prevented him from placing much higher than 14th on the final qualifying ladder.

"Unfortunately, we had a top five qualifying run Saturday night without even exaggerating but we had the engine damage problem," said Pedregon.

That good run ended with a broken motor and a 5.051-second time instead of something in the low 4.8-second range.

"We are going to Atlanta with the goal of qualifying in the top eight and go from there," he added.

If Pedregon's goals are realized, he could climb into the top 10 by Sunday evening. He is 12th with 229 points, but trails eighth-place John Force by only 35 points, which is two rounds of racing. Pedregon will make qualifying runs at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and noon and 3 p.m. on Saturday. Eliminations Sunday begin at 11 a.m.

TV Times: Saturday's qualifying on ESPN2, 9:30-11:30 p.m.  Sunday's race
coverage runs from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.  Repeats are scheduled Monday
at 12-2:30 p.m. and Friday, May 9, 2-4 p.m.  All times at EDT

-cpr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon