INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 20, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to Madison, Ill. (near St. Louis, MO) this weekend for the NHRA Midwest Nationals at ...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 20, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to Madison, Ill. (near St. Louis, MO) this weekend for the NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Int'l Raceway for the 12th of 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in 2006.
"We're anxious to go to St. Louis and continue the progress we've made with our new chassis by applying some of the things we've learned in the past couple of races," Pedregon said of the upcoming race. "It'll definitely be warm at Gateway, so we're looking forward to running in the cooler conditions during the evening -- it's very different for the teams, and the fans love it. We've never won at Gateway before, so we'd like to break through with a win this weekend, which will be an opportunity for our team to move up higher in points. It's only four hours away from our team headquarters in Brownsburg, Indiana, and so we know a lot of our core Midwest fanbase will be represented there. We're hoping our Advance Auto Parts team can put on a great show for them."
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. 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.
The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season hits its midpoint in the shadow of the famed St. Louis arch, an apt symbol because from this point on, it's tricky to remain at the top of the pack and easy to slide off. The majority of the event, including Professional qualifying and eliminations, is held at night, providing the spectacle that only drag racing can: five-foot-long header flames searing the night as 7,000-horsepower beasts race into the dark. When the sun sinks low on the other side of the Mississippi, the action begins on a track that has shown itself capable of dishing out incredible performances.
How to Get There: Five minutes from downtown St. Louis, Gateway Int'l Raceway is on Interstate 55/70 at Exit 4. From St. Louis, take I-70 south to I-55/70 and travel east to Exit 4.
After conquering the quarter-mile Gateway Int'l Raceway this weekend, the NHRA warriors head to Denver, Colo., and the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver, Colo., at Bandimere Speedway on July 14-16. Check your local ESPN2 listings for broadcast times and event coverage.