Las Vegas: Cruz Pedregon final summary

CRUZ PEDREGON AND THE ADVANCE AUTO PARTS TEAM HIT THE JACKPOT WITH WIN IN LAS VEGAS (LAS VEGAS, Nev.): Cruz Pedregon and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team on Sunday beat Ron Capps to take a huge final round win at the NHRA Nationals...

CRUZ PEDREGON AND THE ADVANCE AUTO PARTS TEAM HIT THE JACKPOT WITH WIN IN LAS VEGAS

(LAS VEGAS, Nev.): Cruz Pedregon and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team on Sunday beat Ron Capps to take a huge final round win at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This was Pedregon's 23rd career win and 50th career final appearance in the Nitro Funny Car division, and his first victory in 126 races, dating back to Englishtown in 2000. The win vaulted him from 10th to 5th in the NHRA POWERade Nitro Funny Car point standings.

"You can say I had a gorilla on my back because it was definitely bigger than a monkey," said Pedregon. "My feeling in the final when I started smoking the tires out there was, 'oh well, Ron's gonna go by me.' But when I didn't see him I just started driving off adrenaline and instinct. I've never been so glad to see a win light come on. The car was really consistent all weekend. We're taking it one race at a time, one round at a time. It's a good start and turnaround for our team this early in the season."

"In building a team, I thought I knew everything, but I am continuously learning every day," Pedregon said after jumping from his race-winning Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo. "I'm a bit overwhelmed right now. It all comes down to sponsors who believed in me and this team, and I need to thank them for that. This is a long-term operation with Tony and I -- we feel this team will be around for years. All I can say is to stick with it. If you are struggling in anything, stick with it and you'll get it done."

First round of eliminations saw Pedregon off the starting line strong, but the car got a little too close to the left wall and the chutes deployed early to help him get back in the racing line. It was good enough for a win over Jim Head. In second round eliminations against Tony Bartone, Pedregon had another good, clean run. Heading into the third round of eliminations against Tommy Johnson Jr., Pedregon had yet another decent run, although he had had to pedal the throttle a bit to get down the track. In the final round of eliminations, paired against point leader Ron Capps and with the victory in sight, Pedregon powered down the quarter-mile, again with some traction issues, but wins his first race at The Strip since the facility opened in 2000.

Last June, Pedregon vowed to not cut his hair again until he won another race, so he can also look forward to a haircut along with the spoils of winning at a track he's never conquered in the past.

In 2005, Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Race Team finished for the second consecutive year in the top 10 in points, was #1 qualifier twice and recorded a career best ET speed of 4.680 seconds at 330.80mph.

NEXT RACE: NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Presented by Q Power at Bristol Dragway, April 28-30, 2006 LAS VEGAS RACE RESULTS:

-cpr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Tony Bartone , Ron Capps , Cruz Pedregon , Tommy Johnson Jr.