Cruz Pedregon Richmond Preview

After Texas, Pedregon is back in the groove DINWIDDIE, Va. (April 27, 1999) - - It's called a top four finish in NASCAR and a semifinal appearance in NHRA Winston Series racing. Either way, the definition stops short of what every racer seeks...

After Texas, Pedregon is back in the groove

DINWIDDIE, Va. (April 27, 1999) - - It's called a top four finish in NASCAR and a semifinal appearance in NHRA Winston Series racing. Either way, the definition stops short of what every racer seeks - a win.

Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon has one runner-up and two semifinal finishes on his 1999 Joe Gibbs Racing resume after five races, but is still looking for his first victory. A year ago at this time he had two wins.

"Yes, our performance was better last year at this time," he says, " but after last week, I feel we're back in the groove."

Perhaps that victory will come this week at the Pennzoil Nationals, Friday through Sunday, at Virginia Motorsports Park near Richmond. Pedregon, driving the Interstate Batteries/Hot Rod Pontiac, is a two-time finalist here, placing second to Chuck Etchells in 1997 and to John Force in 1996.

"We've run good there," he said. "Every year the cars keep running quicker. The cars keep getting better and so do the tires. We used to lose about a half a second (of elapsed time) because the rear tires lost traction, but that has improved."

Pedregon added two more round wins Sunday during the Castrol Nationals at Ennis, Texas. It was a battle of Pedregons during the day. Cruz beat his older brother Frank in the second round but missed an opportunity to get to the title round when his younger brother Tony pulled out a victory in the semifinals.

"Our car ran good," he said, "but the bottom line was that I left some e.t. (elapsed time) on the track (against Tony). It was disappointing."

Tony Pedregon was quicker off the starting line and turned that into the winning margin at the finish line - 4.883 seconds to 4.879 seconds.

Until then, Cruz Pedregon's chances looked good. He qualified third with a 4.912-second run and added a 4.936 on the tricky Motorplex track. In the first round, Pedregon turned in a 4.931 at 301.20 mph to stop Jim Epler. Matched against Frank, Cruz rode the power generated by crew chief Wes Cerny to a 4.915 at 311.52 while Frank had a 5.104.

Cruz has moved up in the standings following the last four races. He didn't qualify at the first race at Pomona, Calif. He was second at Phoenix, lost in the second to Cory Lee in the semis at Gainesville, Fla., and fell to brother Tony at Houston. He is third with 314 points. Force is in front with 528 and Tony Pedregon is second with 454.

"All of us on the team are looking forward to racing," Cruz said. "The car's performance is good. If we run the same numbers this weekend that we did last week in Texas, we are going to win our share."

Pennzoil Nationals qualifying will be Friday at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at noon and 4 p.m. Sunday eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Chuck Etchells , Cruz Pedregon , Cory Lee
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing