Norwalk: Cruz Pedregon final report

Solid semifinal showing returns Pedregon to winning form NORWALK, Ohio (June 29) -- Former world champion Cruz Pedregon has been saying for a month that his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara race team is on the cusp of something special. Sunday...

Solid semifinal showing returns Pedregon to winning form

NORWALK, Ohio (June 29) -- Former world champion Cruz Pedregon has been saying for a month that his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara race team is on the cusp of something special. Sunday he proved that point with a final-four finish in Norwalk, Ohio, that kept him in the upper echelon of the competitive Funny Car class.

"You won't hear complaints in our pit," Pedregon said. "Our strategy coming in was to go back to a set-up we used when we were in the top-three of the points and that's what we did. Obviously, it worked for us this weekend.

"After such a strong start to the season we starting pecking away at the tune-up and did things to make us a little quicker. We did get quicker but along the way we lost a bit of our consistency. Of course, it's easy to look back and say we should have done things differently but I was there with Rahn (Tobler, crew chief) every step of the way, agreeing with all of his ideas. It's why they call it a tuning combination; you have to have so many things lined up just right for it to work. That's how complex these cars are nowadays."

The day started with Pedregon showing exceptional driving skills in upsetting first-round opponent "Fast Jack" Beckman. Both cars lost traction just off the launch pad but Pedregon got his 8,000-horsepower racecar to settle down and started heading down the track. But he wasn't done yet as he had to fight hard to keep his car off the centerline and then the wall as he zoomed to the top end for a 5.933-second win.

"It wasn't pretty as it happened but the end result was great," Pedregon said. "I was pretty busy in there but I never saw Jack so I wasn't about to give up. I dropped cylinders and got pushed all around but we managed to turn on the win light. That was fun."

By the time the quarterfinals rolled around, Pedregon and Tobler had solved their traction problems as the 27-time national event winner posted a stellar 4.929-second pass at 300 mph, the second quickest pass of the round.

"Just a great pass," he said. "It was exactly what we were looking for."

With a chance to reach his second final of the year and race his brother Tony, Pedregon was certainly up for his semifinal race against Robert Hight, leaving well ahead of his young rival with a .027-second reaction time against Hight's .090-second start. But Hight managed to slowly reel in Pedregon and caught him at the 1,000-foot timer, barely winning with a 4.950 at 290.76 mph to Pedregon's 5.035 at 282.36 mph.

"I dropped a hole right before the finish line and lost just enough horsepower that Robert was able to get by us," Pedregon said. "It was very, very close.

"We're pumped up and ready to continue the season. It's funny because once upon a time I would have been upset for not getting to the final round but any time you can win rounds in Funny Car it's a great day. We're all happy."

-credit: pr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon