Pomona: Cruz Pedregon preview

Cruz Pedregon Poised for Productive 2005 Season NHRA Opens 2005 Season at Famed Pomona Raceway POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2005) -- A new season always brings new expectations. It's no different with Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Monte...

Cruz Pedregon Poised for Productive 2005 Season
NHRA Opens 2005 Season at Famed Pomona Raceway

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2005) -- A new season always brings new expectations. It's no different with Cruz Pedregon and the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car, but this time it may be a little different as the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series opens the 2005 season with the traditional K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona Raceway.

Pedregon has completed a very successful offseason testing campaign, one that has seen the Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car at or near the top of every elapsed time or speed chart. With confidence brimming, Pedregon can't wait to kick off qualifying on Thursday afternoon.

"I can't remember a time when I have been this excited to get the season started," Pedregon said. "I have to go way back to my days with Joe Gibbs Racing, when I won my championship (back in 1992) and won a lot of races. We completed a lot of testing and I think our guys are ready to have a great season.

"One of the main reasons I'm so confident going into this season is the people surrounding me," Pedregon continued. "This team -- led by crew chief Wes Cerny -- is outstanding. You're only as good as the people on your team and I feel we have the best group of guys out here. Not to mention the fact Wes has had a year under his belt and we have a high level of comfort between us. We have kept a lot of the team members from last year in place and they are encouraged by what we've done this offseason."

Pedregon didn't need much encouragement last season either, recording four final round appearances and a near miss at a fourth U.S. Nationals title last August. According to Pedregon, his team has received a lot of support.

"I can't thank all of our sponsors enough -- Advance Auto Parts, Quaker State, etc..." Pedregon said. "They have given us a budget that has allowed us to do the things we need to be competitive. We have built a new car and have replaced or freshened most of our equipment. It's a good feeling to know we come into this season with a lot of confidence.

"We have a car to watch out for in 2005," Pedregon continued. "We'll be able to take that next step and win a few races. In fact, we had a chance to win four races last season. I also think we'll be definite players for the championship as well. It's a good feeling to be in this position."

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Pomona Raceway Breakdown:

Cruz Pedregon On Pomona...

The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series opens the 2005 season with the traditional K&N Filters Winternationals at the famed Pomona Raceway.

Pedregon, from nearby Camarillo, Calif., has one victory at Pomona Raceway, defeating Chuck Etchells in the final of the 1995 Winternationals. He has also made two additional final-round appearances (Pomona 2 in 1994 & 1995) and recorded four No. 1 qualifiers (Pomona 2 in 1998; Pomona 1 in 1993, 1994 & 1996).

The 1992 NHRA POWERade Funny Car World Champ broke down Pomona Raceway and his thoughts on this year's Winternationals.

"Pomona is a straight out, fast race track," Pedregon said. "Over the years, NHRA has reworked the surface to where its very smooth and great to drive on. If there has ever been a track weakness, it would have to be the starting line. But I think the NHRA has addressed that as well, putting in fresh concrete, which should help out a lot.

"As for the weather, the Winternationals are traditionally cooler, which means quick times should be expected," Pedregon said. "I think this team will be prepared for any conditions. It's something we built and improved upon last season. We have two strategies and both will work. I know if we need a deep ball, to put it into NFL terminology -- we can go out and run a low 4.70. But we also have a car that can perform in the heat, when we need to run it up the middle and grind out a few yards."

Pedregon feels the NHRA has really stepped up the racing's quality, "NHRA has done a great job in addressing some of the track issues we've had in years past. It used to be lane choice was critical. I don't think that's much of a factor any more, unless it's psychological. At almost every race now, you have side-by-side racing, which is a win-win for everyone -- especially the fans."

What does Pomona mean to Cruz?

"Pomona is home. It's always been my home track being born and raised in this area, but it's also the home of drag racing. Pomona is to the NHRA what Charlotte (N.C.) is to NASCAR."

Advance Auto Parts Notebook:

Final Testing...

The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the site of the final testing session prior to this weekend's running of the 45th annual K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. Pedregon was pleased with the results, which was highlighted by a 4.76-second run. The run was quickest of the weekend in Funny Car, even though it was a planned shut off pass.

"Everything went well," Pedregon said. "Not only did we run well in Phoenix, but we were able to back it up with a great weekend in Las Vegas. In fact, we tested two days, made a few final runs to get everything in order, then enjoyed Super Bowl Sunday. We're on cloud nine right now and ready for the season to begin in Pomona."

-PedregonRacing.com-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Chuck Etchells , Cruz Pedregon
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing