Pedregon keeps points lead despite semi setback

Highlights: Team Castrol's Tony Pedregon retained the NHRA POWERade points lead despite a semifinal upset loss to arch rival Whit Bazemore at the third annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. Pedregon will take a 67-point...

Highlights: Team Castrol's Tony Pedregon retained the NHRA POWERade points lead despite a semifinal upset loss to arch rival Whit Bazemore at the third annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Pedregon will take a 67-point advantage over Bazemore into this week's 23rd annual Summit Racing Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, the seven of 23 races in the series.

After qualifying 1-2-3 for only the second time ever, things went gradually downhill for the Team Castrol Mustangs.

The first to fall was Gary Densham, who was ousted in the first round when his Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang shucked a supercharger drive belt at 900 feet, allowing Cruz Pedregon to motor by for the win.

John Force, the 12-time reigning NHRA Funny Car Champ, was the next to go, losing to Worsham in the second round. That left only Pedregon, whose loss to Bazemore left one of the three Castrol-backed Fords outside the finals for only the third time in the last 12 races.

Notes: Dan Dorset, an 18-year-old high school senior from Brighton, Mich., was introduced as the third national winner of the 2003 Castrol GTX Top Techs program which recognizes eight extraordinary young automotive students. Dorset served as an honorary member of the crew supporting John Force's Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. He also received Castrol hats and shirts, a Mac Tools toolbox filled with a $1,000 worth of new tools and quantities of Castrol GTX and Castrol GTX High Mileage motor oils for use in his high school auto shop program.

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE , Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car

Qualifying position and performance: No. 2 at 4.775 seconds, 323.04 mph.
Race results: Beat Frank Pedregon; lost to Del Worsham.

Notable: Best qualifying performance and best quarter mile time and speed of the 2003 season but failed to advance beyond round two.

Quotable: "It's tough out there. Lots of good cars. We made some progress, so I'm feeling pretty good going to Atlanta."

TONY PEDREGON , Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car

Qualifying position and performance: No. 1 at 4.765 seconds, 322.81 mph.
Race results: Beat Bob Gilbertson, Dean Skuza; lost to Whit Bazmeore.

Notable: Qualified No. 1 for the third time this season and maintained lead in race for the 2003 POWERade Funny Car championship.

Quotable: "Well, what can I say? We had a good race car. We just didn't get it done today. Fortunately, we've got another chance coming up."

GARY DENSHAM , Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Funny Car:

Qualifying position and performance: No. 3 at 4.796 seconds, 325.06 mph.
Race results: Lost to Cruz Pedregon.

Notable: Set track speed record for the third consecutive event.

Quotable: "I can't feel too bad. We've got a good hot rod. We just got bit today by a belt. That happens. You just have to shake it off."

Next events: Summit Southern Nationals, Atlanta, Ga., May 2-4; K&N Filters SuperNationals, Englishtown, N.J., May 16-18; O'Reilly Summer Nationals, Topeka, Kan., May 23-25; Lucas Oil Route 66 Nationals, Joliet, Ill., May 30-June 1; Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Columbus, Ohio, June 13-15; Sears Craftsman Nationals, Madison, Ill., June 27-29.

-jfr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Bob Gilbertson , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon