PEDREGON MOVES INTO FUNNY CAR POINTS LEAD WITH WIN; SCHUMACHER, COUGHLIN AND RIVAS ALSO WIN IN LAS VEGAS LAS VEGAS -- Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon guided his car into the points lead with a win Sunday at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA ...
PEDREGON MOVES INTO FUNNY CAR POINTS LEAD WITH WIN; SCHUMACHER, COUGHLIN AND RIVAS ALSO WIN IN LAS VEGAS
LAS VEGAS -- Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon guided his car into the points lead with a win Sunday at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals.
Top Fuel POWERade Series world champion Tony Schumacher, Pro Stock's Jeg Coughlin and Pro Stock Motorcycle's Chris Rivas joined Pedregon in the winner's circle at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with only one race remaining in the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
Pedregon, driving his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara, gained the points lead by defeating Robert Hight. His 4.100 at 304.67 run was strong enough to move him past Tim Wilkerson and into the top spot in the point standings. The last time Pedregon won a championship was 16 years ago in 1992. This is his second win of the season and 25th of his career.
"I didn't hardly sleep at all last night," said Pedregon. "I went up there and just tried to maintain my emotions. It seems like every round was like a championship round. We got the win the against Robert. It was a good race. I was afraid I might see the Dodger Blue of his (Hight) fender. I was praying for the win light to come on because that was a tough race."
Schumacher put an exclamation point on his season by accomplishing everything he could in one weekend in his U.S. Army dragster. He defeated Rod Fuller in the finals with a run of 3.806 at 314.53. In one weekend Schumacher was the No. 1 qualifier, won the championship and won his 15th race of the season. Schumacher has a record-tying 15 wins in 2008 and 56th career win.
"Every race we have won it's getting harder and harder to do it because the bar is so high," said Schumacher. "I had a good car and we won. It was perfect, just perfect. Its how it's been all year long."
Coughlin all but clinched his second consecutive and fourth POWERade Series world championship when he defeated Greg Stanfield in the finals. His run of 6.708 at 205.07 in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt was merely a formality after Stanfield lit the red light at the start. Coughlin has three wins in 2008 and 41 wins in his career.
"It (the win) definitely took a ton of pressure of our shoulders," said Coughlin. "Nearly a four round lead is awesome. With the likes that are behind us, like Dave Connolly my teammate, we knew certainly he was capable of winning. We couldn't take anything for granted."
Rivas, on his G-Squared/S&S Drag Specialties V-Twin, helped himself move closer to his first championship. His winning run of 7.052 at 185 moved him within only 39 points behind defending POWERade Series world champion Matt Smith.
"This feels pretty incredible," said Rivas. "I honestly didn't expect it (To be in contention for a championship). The team is so strong."