Denver: Cruz Pedregon preview

Pedregon, Crew Chiefs in search of winning combinations for Mile-High Nationals MORRISON, Colo., July 15, 2003 - While it is definitely one of the most scenic racetracks on the NHRA POWERade Series schedule, Bandimere Speedway can create nothing...

Pedregon, Crew Chiefs in search of winning combinations for Mile-High Nationals

MORRISON, Colo., July 15, 2003 - While it is definitely one of the most scenic racetracks on the NHRA POWERade Series schedule, Bandimere Speedway can create nothing but nightmares for the men who make their living tuning Funny Cars.

The mile-high track - easily the highest stop on the circuit - offers situations like no others. First, obviously, is the altitude itself that drains the oxygen and robs the cars' engines of the necessary air supply to run quick and fast. Then add hot summer days and an asphalt racing surface that's certain to be very slippery and you have a recipe for headaches.

Cruz Pedregon and his Advance Auto Parts crew chiefs, Rob Flynn and Dave Fletcher, are taking the "two heads are better than one" theory and adding a third to see if they can solve the mysteries of winning the Mile-High Nationals, July 18-20, at Bandimere.

"Tune-ups in Denver are unknowns for obvious reasons - the altitude and the hot weather," Pedregon said. "Rob, Dave and I talked and we've come up with a game plan. We're going there with what, we hope, incorporates all the changes that are necessary. We are about one mile up in the thin air and it's going to be hot. We know the motor won't be able to make big power and there isn't any air pushing the car down, so it will be loose."

Furthermore, the threesome competed here last year, each with different teams, and that provides a more experienced outlook on the tune-up.

"We all have stories about racing there," added Pedregon. "I won the race in 1993 and remember what we did back then. We definitely have a lot of information going into the race. I think we all know what doesn't work."

This event not only signals the start of the season's second half with 11 of the 23 races remaining, but it's the beginning of the annual western swing, three races in three weeks with following stops in Seattle, July 15-27, and Sonoma, Calif., Aug. 1-3.

"We are looking to make more improvements in the last 11 races," Pedregon said. "I feel we are going to be stronger in the second half. We're right on the edge of doing good. I look at these races as races we can win."

"Our goal going into Denver is to qualify, then get past the first round, and then the second round. After that, the finish line is near."

The Advance Auto Parts team qualified a season-best fourth in the last race (June 29) at St. Louis. "We knew we had a car that could win that race," Pedregon said, "but we didn't soften the combination (less horsepower) enough so the car would go down the track without the tires losing traction. All season long we'd been trying to find horsepower and we did. Then at St. Louis we were on a track where having a lot of horsepower would only get you in trouble by spinning the tires."

For this weekend's event, "We're going to have to harness the horsepower and use it whenever we can," concluded Pedregon.

One of Pedregon's goals is to finish in the top 10. He's 11th with 464 points, but he's within 61 points of his brother, Frank, who is ninth at 525. Each round win is worth 20 points.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon