Cruz Pedregon Makes Third Final of 2004 Advance Auto Parts Funny Car Almost Greets Victory Lane INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 6, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon almost wielded his Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car to the fourth U.S. Nationals victory...
Cruz Pedregon Makes Third Final of 2004
Advance Auto Parts Funny Car Almost Greets Victory Lane
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 6, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon almost wielded his Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car to the fourth U.S. Nationals victory of his career at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Pedregon, who won this event in 1992, 1994 and 1995, was beaten out by Gary Densham in today's final. During that run, Pedregon was on and off the throttle near the start, and was unable to defeat Densham's 4.890-second elapsed time at 317.64 mph. The effort marked Pedregon's third final of the season.
"It's a little frustrating, but satisfying at the same time," said Pedregon, the 1992 POWERade Funny Car World Champion. "We still went to the final round of the biggest race. After the disappointment wears off, you can look back and see what a great day we had.
"The final was weird," Pedregon continued. "I'm sure (Crew chief) Wes (Cerny) felt that a win was well within our grip, but we knew we could have run with Densham. We put a little extra heat in the clutch in the final. Unfortunately, the body was inadvertently lowered onto the throttle arm and it accelerated a bit before the run. The clutches in these cars are very temperature sensitive and it threw us off a little bit. It threw me a bit off as well and I didn't get as good if a start as I had wanted. I don't know if it would have mattered because the car went into some heavy duty shake -- I got in and out of the throttle -- but Gary was already gone at that point."
Pedregon advanced to the final by outrunning Del Worsham in the first round, Tim Wilkerson in the second round and second-place points sitter Gary Scelzi. In the semifinal, Pedregon and Scelzi both battled through tire smoke and loss of traction. Even though Scelzi was ahead at about half track, Pedregon was able to move by at the stripe.
"We beat some good cars today," Pedregon said. "We beat Worsham, an outstanding car, and Wilkerson, guys who are up there in points. We also beat Scelzi in a pedaling (on and off the throttle) contest. That was an exciting race. I wasn't too excited at about half track during that race when I saw him about a car and half ahead of me."
Pedregon is happy with what his Advance Auto Parts team accomplished this weekend.
"We're getting close, and you would think we would just go ahead and win it," Pedregon said. "Along as we keep going to final rounds with this Advance Auto Parts car, we should be in good shape. I said this on the West Coast swing when we went to a couple of finals, if we can keep going rounds, the wins will come. I've don this for so long, and this is the way you do things."
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS NOTEBOOK:
UNDER THE WEATHER: Cruz Pedregon battled more than just the weather this weekend, as he felt a little under the weather as well. Despite the challenge, Pedregon drove his Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car to his third final of the 2004 season.
"The last two days -- I don't know if it's been a sinus infection or what -- I have been really fatigued and had an upset stomach. Combine that wit h the extremely hot weather conditions this weekend, it's been pretty difficult. I managed to do my job, despite being about 75 percent . I'm going to rest for a couple of days and get ready for Reading (Pa.)."