Denver: Cruz Pedregon final summary

Cruz Pedregon Advances to First Final of 2004 Confidence Continues to Build at Advance Auto Parts Racing MORRISON, Colo. (July 18, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Racing Monte Carlo took another step towards building...

Cruz Pedregon Advances to First Final of 2004
Confidence Continues to Build at Advance Auto Parts Racing

MORRISON, Colo. (July 18, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Racing Monte Carlo took another step towards building a consistent winner with a final-round appearance during today's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. It was his first final round of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season.

Pedregon drove to a 5.715-second elapsed time at 225.67 mph, but it wasn't enough to erase Phil Burkhart's 5.338-second pass at 289.69 mph.

"When I hit the throttle, I didn't see him at first," said Pedregon, about his second-straight, final-round match at Bandimere Speedway. "You usually see them at the hit of the throttle. At about 300 feet, which is a third of the way out, I thought we were in good shape. All of a sudden, my car shook (or spun) the tires.

"The team is working well together despite the slow start," Pedregon continued "We have our qualifying performances where we want them now. It all starts with qualifying. We smoked the tires for three runs in a row, but we got the win light three times in a row as well. We came close to winning that final too. Overall, we're pretty pleased where this Advance Auto Parts team is headed."

To get to the final, Pedregon used a little driving magic on rookie Robert Schwab in the semifinal, taking a huge starting-line advantage (.093 to .364) and holding off the young Australian at the finish. Pedregon ran a slower 5.542-second elapsed time at 272.56 mph; to Schwab's 5.399-second pass at 272.45 mph. Pedregon (5.799/250.92) defeated Bob Gilbertson (6.168/236.84) in the second round and a tire-smoking Tony Bartone in the opening stanza.

Pedregon has seen real improvements in the Advance Auto Parts Funny Car team recently. During the last NHRA national event at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., two weekends ago, Pedregon drove to his first semifinal of the season.

"(Crew chief) Wes (Cerny) was looking at the computer right after the race, trying to figure out what to do differently," Pedregon said. "That's a sign of a champion. I'm excited and the team is excited. You have to get to the finish line first."


PHYSICAL STRAIN: Bandimere Speedway always presents extreme conditions to NHRA POWERade Drag racing Series drivers and race teams. With an elevation of more than 5,400 feet, and track temperatures reaching above 130-degrees Fahrenheit during today's elimination runs, Advance Auto Parts driver Cruz Pedregon felt every bit of it.

"Physically, I feel like if we had to go another round, I would have had to eat a big bowl of Wheaties," Pedregon said. "I'm exhausted right now. On race day, I normally don't eat too much. I had a protein shake and ate a lot of fruit today. We're in the thin air and its warm, along with all the adrenaline that goes along with competitive drag racing, you're body takes a beating.

"You're up and down, up and down, up and down - all in a span of five hours," Pedregon added. "My right arm started to cramp up when I was coming to a stop at the top end. I felt it today; the car felt it as well. We did keep our Advance Auto Parts body nice and shiny, but also hurt some parts. When you get to a final round though, you don't really mind. This was a great weekend for Advance Auto Parts and all of our great associate sponsors. In addition, we also had a little different camera shot for ESPN this weekend, with one mounted on the rear wing."

POINTS CHASE: Cruz Pedregon's final round performance this weekend allowed the Advance Auto Parts Racing driver to move into the top 10 in NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Nitro Funny Car points. Pedregon has scored 596 points, only 54 points behind brother Tony Pedregon for ninth.

"One of our goals this weekend was to get into the top 10 in points - and we did," Pedregon said. "We're happy with that. The thing about Denver is it's so different from any place else. The good news is that we were able to match the qualifying effort we had in St. Louis, despite the entirely different racing conditions we were under. On paper, we're getting better. We went to the semifinals at Gateway, and now the finals, here. If everything works to plan, who knows, we may win in Seattle.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Gilbertson , Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Cruz Pedregon