Houston Cruz Pedregon Funny Car Preview

PEDREGON SAYS SECOND FUNNY CAR 4.70 A POSSIBILITY AT HOUSTON BAYTOWN, Texas -- On paper, Cruz Pedregon has had one of those rare seasons that should be classified a runaway in the Winston championship standings. With 10 No. 1...

PEDREGON SAYS SECOND FUNNY CAR 4.70 A POSSIBILITY AT HOUSTON

BAYTOWN, Texas -- On paper, Cruz Pedregon has had one of those rare seasons that should be classified a runaway in the Winston championship standings.

With 10 No. 1 qualifying positions, three national event victories, a record-setting 4.819 second elapsed time, a runner-up finish in the Big Bud Shootout at Indianapolis and a $100,000 win in the Winston Invitational, NHRA's all-star race, Pedregon has had a magical year.

However, in a season where Pedregon has posted dominating numbers, three other drivers have had pretty solid years as well. In the races where Pedregon slipped, John Force, Ron Capps and Chuck Etchells have been in perfect position to take advantage of the situation.

With only two races remaining on the schedule, Pedregon knows if he's going to be able to win a second NHRA Winston championship, he's only got one choice: to win at all costs.

That's why the Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird driver is excited about his chances entering the second annual Matco Tools Supernationals, Oct. 29-Nov. 1 at Houston Raceway Park. The $1.7-million race is the 21st of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

With one of the quickest and fastest Funny Cars it the pit area, there's nothing better than one of the quickest and fastest race tracks on the circuit to get Pedregon's adrenaline flowing. The Camarillo, Calif. driver isn't making too many performance predictions for the event, but says fans just might be treated to another 4.70-second Funny Car performance if weather conditions are favorable.

Last week Force posted a 4.787 second run in qualifying at the Texas Motorplex's Revell Nationals to become the first Funny Car driver to go quicker than 4.80 seconds. While Force's elapsed time is the quickest ever, he failed to back up the run within one percent as required by NHRA rules to be considered a national record.

"If there's another track that's capable, Houston is certainly the place," said Pedregon, who posted his record 4.819 second run at HRP in March. "I think we're further along with our race car and Wes (Cerny, crew chief) has a better feel for the car now than we did back earlier in the season. Actually, at the beginning of the year Wes felt like a Funny Car could run in the 4.70s. Now look what Force has done, and we're pretty close. Given similar conditions that we ran the 4.81, I think you could see a 4.79 or 4.78, but it's going to take one heck of a run."

While having one of the quickest cars makes it nice while bench racing with fellow competitors, Pedregon says that's not the primary goal at this point. Pedregon, in fourth place in the Winston standings, is focused on chipping away at Force's lead.

"Right now wins are what's important to us," Pedregon said. "Still, there's always something to having the quickest race car and the bragging rights that go along with that. Plus, there's bonus money and bonus points that come along with being the quickest. But right now our focus is on winning rounds. We want to win races and just win, win, win. That's all we're thinking about. It's exciting to have a car that's capable of winning, but now is the time for us to get it together, go out and execute."

For everything that has went right for Pedregon this season, there has still been a few blips on his radar screen he would just as soon like to erase. Like the season-opening Winternationals DNQ, or the six first round losses he's experienced -- three coming at the hands of the No. 16 qualifier.

"It's growing pains," Pedregon said. "For whatever reason, at this point I can't sit here and try to figure out what happened in those situations. The main thing is that there's still some time left and we'll continue to pursue winning rounds, races and the Winston championship. I think some of the ups and downs we went through this year is going to make us really better in the long run."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Chuck Etchells , Cruz Pedregon