Indianapolis: Cruz Pedregon preview

Cruz Pedregon Buoyed By History, Future Advance Auto Parts Racing Prepares For Drag Racing's Biggest Weekend INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon, driver of the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car, had a dream when he was a...

Cruz Pedregon Buoyed By History, Future
Advance Auto Parts Racing Prepares For Drag Racing's Biggest Weekend

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1, 2004) -- Cruz Pedregon, driver of the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car, had a dream when he was a child. He wanted to be the name NHRA's legendary announcer Dave McClelland bellowed as the winner of drag racing's biggest weekend. It's a dream held by many drivers and teams as we remember all the great events of the past that help define this year's U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

That dream certainly became a reality for Pedregon, who, en route to his first championship, captured the biggest race of his career in 1992 -- the U.S. Nationals. It was the first of his three victories at this historic event (1994 & 1995). This year marks the 50th anniversary of the professional drag racing's 'Big Go.' So memories of the past will be flowing freely on this special weekend.

Every night, as the drama of the world's biggest drag race played out at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Cruz, along with brothers Tony and Frank, huddled closely to a small radio inside their home in Southern California and intently listened to the latest updates and elapsed times that shaped that year's 'Big Go.' McClelland, who gave the updates, spoke of the sport's biggest heroes - Don Prudhomme, Shirley Muldowney, 'Big Daddy' Don Garlits -- the names that defined the first 50 years of professional drag racing and the NHRA.

"It was magical," Pedregon remembered. "When you're just a young boy, things like the U.S. Nationals were bigger than life. I can still, to this day, repeat some of the qualifying results from Dave McClelland. Just competing in the U.S. Nationals became a dream of mine."

Let's fast-forward to 1992, Pedregon more than just competed in the grand spectacle of drag racing, he won it! Driving past Del Worsham in the final and writing his name alongside Prudhomme, Muldowney and Garlits.

"You can not accurately describe the feeling I had when I won that race," said Pedregon, who was in the midst of a five-race win streak at the time. "Everything that I had ever dreamed of as a little boy had come true. It was one of the most emotional moments of my professional career. I still remember those feelings as it happened yesterday. It was really powerful."

With Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Racing team starting to put things together, could number four be around the corner.

"I think we have a team good enough to make it happen," said Pedregon, who drove to two straight final rounds on the recently completed West Coast swing. "We have made some strides and we now have the consistency, combined with performance, to make some real noise this weekend."

Advance Auto Parts, Inc. is based in Roanoke, Va., and is the second largest auto parts chain in the nation. With over 2,500 stores in 39 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the company serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets. Additional information about the company, employment opportunities, services, as well as on-line purchase of parts and accessories can be found on the company's web site at www.advanceautoparts.com.

Advance Auto Parts Notebook:

GOOD TEST: Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car recently completed a testing session last week at Indianapolis Raceway Park, site of this year's 50th Anniversary U.S. Nationals.

Pedregon was extremely pleased with the results, and thinks the team is holding a strong position heading into this weekend, "It was an excellent test. We were on pace to make a 4.76 run, under the 95-percent rules, before I shut it off a bit early. We still ran a 4.94 (second) lap at 295 mph.

"As (crew chief) Wes Cerny said, we weren't there to make entire runs, we were there to try different things and learn about what the car wanted. It responded well and I think it's going to be a tremendous weekend for us."

-PedregonRacing.com

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Del Worsham , Cruz Pedregon , Don Garlits , Don Prudhomme