Dallas: Tony Pedregon preview

ENNIS, Texas -- Tony Pedregon is not the blood-sucking vampire pictured on the Halloween version of the Castrol SYNTECâ„¢ Ford Mustang, the 7,000 horsepower Funny Car he'll drive in this week's (Oct. 20-22) 15th annual O'Reilly Fall ...

ENNIS, Texas -- Tony Pedregon is not the blood-sucking vampire pictured on the Halloween version of the Castrol SYNTEC™ Ford Mustang, the 7,000 horsepower Funny Car he'll drive in this week's (Oct. 20-22) 15th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Billy Meyer's Texas Motorplex. But if the Dracula image gives him an edge, any edge, the second generation pro gladly will play the role. Trying to close the gap in the 2000 Winston driver standings, Pedregon needs a supernatural performance if he is to gain ground on Ron Capps, Jerry Toliver and Castrol GTX® teammate John Force, the man to whom he has finished second in points three times in the last four years. Fortunately, such other-worldly performance is possible at the Motorplex, the circuit's only all-concrete track, one on which the 35-year-old Pedregon earned the biggest payday of his career ($140,000 as the 1999 winner of the Castrol Nationals AND the accompanying No Bull bonus) and on which he has accelerated to 322.81 miles per hour, a speed bettered only by his boss (324.05 mph). Pedregon will play Dracula to Force's Frankenstein this week as part of a joint promotion by Universal Studios Consumer Products Group and Action Performance Companies, Inc. In addition to the two Castrol drivers, Joe Amato's Top Fuel dragster will bear a likeness of The Mummy and Matt Hines' motorcycle will mimic the vampire theme. "It's an opportunity for us to have a little fun," Pedregon said. "A couple of years ago, we did a Selena tribute car with Action that was really well received, especially in Texas. John has done Elvis and Superman. With Halloween coming up, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy. What could be better?" Pedregon's return to Texas and to the Motorplex couldn't have been better timed. After struggling in mid-season, the Chino Hills, Calif., pro is back on his game. Unfortunately, his improved performance has been largely ignored in the wake Force's drive to an anticipated 10th Winston Championship. That's a situation with which Pedregon is not unfamiliar. In almost five seasons as driver of the second car in the Force Racing stable, he quietly has put together a portfolio that includes 26 final round appearances, nine victories and the quickest quarter mile clocking in history -- 4.779 seconds. Nevertheless, he still toils in relative obscurity. As the youngest son of the late Frank Pedregon, a 1960s-era Top Fuel dragster driver, he always has had to battle to retain his own individuality. First it was with his older brothers, Frankie and Cruz. Now it's with his boss and mentor. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime," he said of his association with Team Castrol. "All the best parts and pieces and the chance to work on a daily basis with Crew Chiefs like John Medley, Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. Plus, I know my time is coming. My career still is ahead of me."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Matt Hines , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Joe Amato , Jerry Toliver , Austin Coil