INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 25, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to historic Raceway Park at Indianapolis in Clermont, Ind. for the biggest race of the...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 25, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to historic Raceway Park at Indianapolis in Clermont, Ind. for the biggest race of the year and the 18th of 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in 2006, the 52nd Annual U.S. Nationals. Pedregon retains his place in the top 10 in the NHRA point standings after the last round in Memphis.
The adjectives come easy for this motorsports tradition. Each Labor Day weekend, NHRA racers and fans descend on Raceway Park at Indianapolis for the biggest, oldest, richest, and most prestigious drag race in the world. The fabled quarter-mile, site of many of drag racing's greatest moments, is regarded by many as one of the smoothest on the circuit, an appropriate staging ground for some of the season's most eagerly sought championships.
"People ask me all the time what my favorite race is, and it's always been the U.S. Nationals," Pedregon said. "Through the years, if there's a track the Advance Auto Parts Team does well at, it's Indianapolis. I've driven some good cars there, and I've always tested at that track. Even the one year I didn't test in 2000, I made it to the semi finals. Our team always has a shot to win the race, and I hope that continues this year. We just completed a two-day test at that track and it went well - we ran a 4.82, but we were truly testing a lot of different setups so we weren't really going for the low number just to outdo someone else. Some things worked and some didn't, but overall it was a good test. Indianapolis is kind of a home track for us - we just built a new shop in nearby Brownsburg, so it will be good to do well for all of our team members and supporters. The track is really well groomed - it's one of the rare tracks that hangs in there despite the temperatures, which typically reach in the mid 80s or even 90 during this time of year. Winning in Indianapolis is like winning the championship - it can make your year. We'll get the car qualified well and try to win our second race of the season."
During his rookie season in Funny Car in 1992, Pedregon won the NHRA world championship. With this accomplishment he became the only racer other than John Force to win the championship in the 90s. Pedregon has won the historic U.S. Nationals in 1992, 1994 and 1995. In 1997, Pedregon was also the first motorsports athlete to receive the "Premio De Oro," the only national award for Hispanic athletes. Born into a racing family, Pedregon's father, Frank, raced Top Fuel dragsters in the 1960s. His brothers Tony and Frank also compete in the Nitro Funny Car ranks. In 1980, Cruz won his first official drag race at the age of 15, driving a 1953 Kenworth truck.
How to get to Raceway Park at Indianapolis: The track is one mile west of Clermont on Highway 136. From Indianapolis, take Interstate 465 to Highway 136 (Crawfordsville Road). Go west toward and through Clermont. The main entrance is on the south side of the road, one mile past Clermont.
After conquering the quarter-mile Raceway Park at Indianapolis, the NHRA warriors head to the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Penn., held on September 14-17.