Cruz Pedregon's Recent Performances Breeds Confidence Advance Auto Parts Driver Looks to Improve One Position Over Last Year's Effort MORRISON, Colo. (July 15, 2004) -- Confidence is a powerful tool for any race team. For the Advance Auto Parts...
Cruz Pedregon's Recent Performances Breeds Confidence Advance Auto Parts Driver Looks to Improve One Position Over Last Year's Effort
MORRISON, Colo. (July 15, 2004) -- Confidence is a powerful tool for any race team. For the Advance Auto Parts Funny Car team, it could be the little edge that sends former Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon to a 23rd-career NHRA national event victory at this weekend's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
His confidence has its roots in success, as Pedregon drove to the semifinals during the most recent NHRA national event at Gateway International Raceway (GIR) in Madison, Ill. At that same event, Pedregon continued his string of outstanding qualifying efforts with a fifth, marking the third-straight race the Advance Auto Parts Funny Car had qualified in the top half of the field. When combined with Pedregon's runner up finish at last year's Mile-High Nationals, where he barely missed beating out John Force in the final, you have all the ingredients for a breakout race.
"We're definitely confident," Pedregon said. "It's at a high level now because the car is just beginning to show signs of great improvement. We've had three-straight races, and even before that, of consistently qualifying in the top half of the field. We have a car that has gone to the semis at the last event in St. Louis. It's pretty telling about what direction this team is headed."
Pedregon currently sits 11th, only 25 markers shy of Jerry Toliver for 10th place in Funny Car points. This weekend's event at Bandimere Speedway also kicks off three-straight West Coast NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series national events, often noted as a potential turning point for many race teams.
"If you're going to come on as a team, now is a good time to do it," Pedregon said. "We're coming into the West Coast swing and we can gain a lot of ground in a short period of time. We're trying to burst into the top 10, and with only being two rounds out of tenth, we have a real shot at moving up. I have every intention, by the time we come back from the West Coast, to be well into the top 10 in points.
"For a lot of years, I dreaded going to Bandimere Speedway," Pedregon commented. "Last year, we went into the race with a little different game plan from what we had ever done -- and it worked. We went to the final, runner up to John Force and had a great event other than just coming up a bit short. We have those records and notes. Last year's results will give us some direction on how to set the car up for this year. It's quite a bit different from anything we've ever done before. There are some things you need to do there that go against the normal way of thinking because you're at a higher altitude, in the thinner air and the engine is down on power. I feel good we're going up there this year with a game plan that just isn't shooting from the hip. It worked last year and I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work again this year."
Another source of Pedregon's confidence comes from simply getting more familiar with being a part of a two-car team with brother Tony.
"We have had a better car this year than what our performances have demonstrated," Pedregon stated. "I think we're starting to hit our stride. We're now a two-car team and have changed a lot of the things we have done the past two years. We have switched and made our car more like Tony's. I think we're starting to see the benefits of this two-car team."
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS RACING NOTEBOOK:
RULES REACTION: Advance Auto Parts Funny Car competitor Cruz Pedregon recently talked about the new tire rules NHRA instituted in wake of the Darrell Russell tragedy during the most recent national event at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.
A new Goodyear tire combination and a mandatory tire pressure of 6.5 PSI will greet the drivers and teams at this weekend's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Pedregon is optimistic about the change.
"Whatever it takes to make the cars safer," Pedregon said. "Performance is secondary in the long run. I think a lot of people are going to have mixed reactions, but for the most part, everyone is definitely pro safety. Everyone is in the same boat. Some teams will respond better than others. I hope we're one of those teams."
Pedregon did note the new tires that will be used are not unfamiliar combination to the Advance Auto Parts Racing team.
"From what I've been told about the new tires, there's already somewhat of a familiarity with the combination and construction of the tire," Pedregon said. "Goodyear will provide a combination of two or three different tires we've run in the past. I think we have an idea of what to expect because it's not a completely different construction or rubber compound. These cars only go as fast as we tell them. Maybe we have to take it easy for a while on these tires and not really push the envelope. I think that's going to be our approach. The bottom line is it's the same for everyone. Somebody is going to win these races, and someone is going to say, 'That tire is excellent.'"