ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 12, 2003 - Milestones seem to be lodged in memory banks for a lifetime. They are as hard to shake as a winter cold in the Arctic. Cruz Pedregon, for example, quickly recalls his first win as a Funny Car owner and driver.
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 12, 2003 - Milestones seem to be lodged in memory banks for a lifetime. They are as hard to shake as a winter cold in the Arctic.
Cruz Pedregon, for example, quickly recalls his first win as a Funny Car owner and driver. It came at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park three years ago and truly was a special victory.
Pedregon's team wasn't favored, but there he was, knocking off reigning champion John Force in the finals of a tire-smoking, throttle-pedaling race.
It's time for Pedregon and his Advance Auto Parts Pontiac team to return to one of his favorite racing facilities for the 34th annual K&N Filters SuperNationals at Raceway Park, May 16-18.
"I have special place in my heart for Englishtown because it was there where we got our first race win as an owner/driver," Pedregon said. "It's definitely a race we're looking forward to. It can be an awesome track if the weather is cool, but it's like any other track when you get some sunshine on it; it'll make the crew chiefs sweat a little bit. Either way, we're looking forward to it.
"That kicks off our series of three races in a row and we'll be ready for it, especially after our weekend off (May 9-11). We needed a little break because we had quite a bit of mechanical damage at Bristol (Tenn., April 25-27) and we used the week off to replenish our parts supply," Pedregon added. "Back-to-back races mean a lot of work. Teams need to go into those races with extra cylinder heads, blocks, and crankshafts . . . all those things you can't exactly stick in an envelope and send overnight."
Pedregon is pleased with the direction his race team is going in terms of tune-ups and improving performances.
"We were hard on parts at Bristol, but the next weekend at Atlanta the car was very consistent. It ran 313 mph back-to-back, which means that it is tune-able. It is a car we can predict," Pedregon noted. "We're heading into the summer where conditions are going to be hotter and our tune-up at Atlanta was suited for those kinds of conditions.
"We know we aren't where we want to be yet, but I really think we are knocking on the door. We're right there, maybe a clutch pull away from having the combination we need."
Co-crew chiefs Rob Flynn and Dave Fletcher "are tuning the car by predicting what the equipment is going to do, so the predictability of the car is getting better," added Pedregon. "It is responding to what we tell it to do, which has not always been the case this year."
If the car continues to like the tune-ups - and Flynn, Fletcher and Pedregon believe it could be as early as the beginning of qualifying Friday afternoon - a competitive racecar will emerge, enabling Pedregon to climb in the standings. He's 12th with 261 points, 47 (just over two rounds) behind 10th place, occupied by older brother Frank Pedregon.
Maybe there will be more good times to remember at Raceway Park, too.
Qualifying times are 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and 1:30 and 4 p.m. Saturday. Racing begins Sunday at 11 a.m.
The Summer Nationals, May 23-25, at Topeka, Kan., and the Lucas Oil Route 66 Nationals, May 30-June 1, completed the three-week swing.