LAS VEGAS (Oct. 26, 2003) It was a bitter sweet weekend for Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Racing Team this weekend at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Due to an engine explosion during the...
LAS VEGAS (Oct. 26, 2003) It was a bitter sweet weekend for Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Racing Team this weekend at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Due to an engine explosion during the first qualifying session on Saturday, Cruz just missed the show by six one thousands of a second. However, the weekend ended on a high note, as Tony Pedregon, Cruz's younger brother, beat Whit Bazemore in the finals to win the race and become the 2003 POWERade Funny Car champion.
After two runs on Friday night, Cruz Pedregon was in the 13th qualifying position and headed into the first round on Saturday with a more aggressive tune up to move up into the top half of the field. Cruz left the line strong and made a good pass, his quickest of the weekend with an ET of 4.976 at 292.33 mph. However, as the Advance Auto Parts Funny Car crossed the finish stripe, it lost a couple of cylinders and ultimately broke an intake valve, causing the body to implode and shatter. The force of the explosion also lifted the chassis into the air and then dropped hard causing the car to hit the left wall.
Pedregon was taken to a local hospital for observation and released later that afternoon, but for precautionary measures was not cleared to race on Sunday.
"It felt like a right hook from Mike Tyson," said Pedregon. "We were on a good run and unfortunately, the car and I both took a pretty big hit. I know we had a strong race car and would have liked to proven ourselves on Sunday. I am a little sore right now, but will be fine in a couple of days."
On Sunday, Cruz was cheering on his younger brother Tony as he beat Whit Bazemore in the finals to capture his first NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship. Cruz and Tony Pedregon are the only drivers other than John Force to win the NHRA Funny Car championship in the last thirteen years. Cruz Pedregon won the Funny Car championship in 1992.
"We will be ready for Pomona and continue to have the same game plan for winning the race," added Cruz.
The next and last race of the season is November 6-9 at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif.