Joe Gibbs announces new direction for NHRA teams

Joe Gibbs announces new direction for NHRA teams INDIANAPOLIS (May 26, 1999) -- Joe Gibbs announced today personnel changes affecting his National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car and Top Fuel teams. .Gibbs and Cruz Pedregon, driver of...

Joe Gibbs announces new direction for NHRA teams

INDIANAPOLIS (May 26, 1999) -- Joe Gibbs announced today personnel changes affecting his National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car and Top Fuel teams.

.Gibbs and Cruz Pedregon, driver of the Interstate Batteries Hot Rod Pontiac Funny Car, have mutually decided to end their relationship.

.Gibbs and Mike Green, crew chief on the Cory McClenathan-driven MBNA Top Fuel dragster, have also ended their relationship.

.Wes Cerny, the team's Funny Car crew chief, will oversee the operation of both teams, effective immediately.

.Gibbs said he and his staff are in a search process to hire a permanent driver. Gibbs added that until a permanent driver is hired, an interim driver will be in the Interstate Batteries Hot Rod Pontiac, starting at the next race -- Fram Route 66 Nationals, June 6, in Joliet, Ill.

"We will move on and I am confident that our teams, under the leadership of Wes Cerny, will continue their strong presence on the NHRA circuit,” said Gibbs, who has owned the teams since 1995.

Pedregon, 35, has been a professional Funny Car racer since 1992, and has been racing for Gibbs since 1995. Pedregon won the NHRA Winston Funny Car series championship in his rookie season. He has 21 wins, placing fourth overall in Funny Car career victories. Three of his victories have come at the prestigious U.S. Nationals. He was in third place following his runner-up finish at the recent Mopar Parts Nationals in Englishtown, N.J.

"We have enjoyed our relationship with Cruz," Gibbs said. "He is a great person who has been a terrific representative for our team. This does not close the door on Cruz and myself. We both agreed that if an opportunity comes up, we would like to resume a professional relationship in the future. Our personal relationship will always be strong. We all wish Cruz and his wife Sharon the best."

"It has been a pleasure for me to be involved with Joe Gibbs and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing," Pedregon said. "We had a great run. I'd welcome the opportunity to be involved with Joe again in the future.

"I was born into a racing family (his two brothers, Frank and Tony, also drive Funny Cars) and I obviously want to remain in NHRA Winston drag racing. My first dream was to drive and become a champion in a Funny Car. I have realized this dream. Now it's time for me to pursue my second dream and that is to become an owner/driver and to continue to chase John Force."

With Green tuning Gibbs' Top Fuel car the last two-plus years, McClenathan won 13 times - including six each in 1997 and 1998, and once this season. McClenathan is currently in sixth place in the Top Fuel standings.

"I've had an excellent relationship with Mike," Gibbs said. "He has made many good contributions to our team and had two very good years. I know he will continue to do well and I wish him and his family the best."

"I want to thank Joe Gibbs for giving me the opportunity to run the team," Green commented. "We've had a great relationship but now it's time to move on. My plan is to stay involved in drag racing."

Cerny is in his second season with Joe Gibbs Racing. Last year he tuned the Interstate Batteries Funny Car to four victories, 12 No. 1 qualifying positions and three national elapsed time records. For his accomplishments last year, he was named the Funny Car Mechanic of the Year.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing