MORRISON, Colo., July 20, 2003 - Cruz Pedregon and his Advance Auto Parts Funny Car team reached the finals of their first NHRA national event Sunday at Bandimere Speedway and came close to getting into the Mile-High Nationals winner's ...
MORRISON, Colo., July 20, 2003 - Cruz Pedregon and his Advance Auto Parts Funny Car team reached the finals of their first NHRA national event Sunday at Bandimere Speedway and came close to getting into the Mile-High Nationals winner's circle.
With the car's performance improving during the afternoon, Pedregon earned a spot in the title round against John Force, marking the 21st time the two have squared off for a race win.
Although Force won for the 13th time in the rivalry, Pedregon made him earn it. Force crossed the finish line in 5.044 seconds at 298.45 mph, followed closely by Pedregon's 5.050 at 302.55 mph. Cruz also climbed into 10th place in POWERade Series points with 557.
"It was an awesome weekend," said Pedregon. "I can only think of one thing better to do and that's to win the race. We made seven of the eight runs down the racetrack although we did damage some equipment. We're trying hard. We've made some big strides in the last couple of weeks. All you have to do is look at the elapsed times and the effort. I'm proud to have a good team, headed up by Rob Flynn and Dave Fletcher."
Pedregon qualified eighth (5.112 at 283.61 mph) and then marched through the tough field. He eliminated Gary Densham, Tim Wilkerson and Dean Skuza before meeting Force.
His win over Densham was spectacular because the engine expired in a ball of flames at the finish line. The fire damaged the car's body, forcing Pedregon to change bodies. The supercharger also broke in his quarterfinal decision over Wilkerson after Pedregon was timed in 5.098 seconds, the quickest of the round. He did get a much-needed break in the semifinals when Skuza fouled away his chances.
"We have a philosophy and a game plan that's paying off," said Pedregon. "The only thing we can do from here is go to Seattle and keep on what we're going."
The Carquest Nationals begin Friday at Pacific Raceway near Seattle, the second of three straight races. The third one is at Sonoma, Calif., Aug. 1-3.