Reading: Team Castrol eliminations summary

Pedregon wins 18th Keystone Nationals. Highlights: Tony Pedregon claimed his fourth victory of the 2002 season in dominating fashion, driving his Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang into the winners' circle Monday after rain washed out most of Sunday's...

Pedregon wins 18th Keystone Nationals.

Highlights: Tony Pedregon claimed his fourth victory of the 2002 season in dominating fashion, driving his Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang into the winners' circle Monday after rain washed out most of Sunday's program in the 18th annual Lucas Oil Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

Pedregon, the No. 6 qualifier, beat Dean Skuza, Bruce Sarver, Ron Capps and, finally, Whit Bazemore to earn the 17th victory of his career, his first at Maple Grove.

It was a best-of-the-event .;452 reaction time in the final round that made Pedregon's 4.829 second quarter mile time a winner over Bazemore's quicker 4.814. Bazemore posted top speed of the event at 319.98 mph in a vain catch-up bid.

Ironically, it was Bazemore's third win on Mondays following rainouts, his second this season. Earlier this year he beat Bruce Sarver in the Monday finals of the Lucas Northwest Nationals at Seattle, Wash., and, in 1999, he won the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., on Monday.

"We've got a really good race car right now," Pedregon said. "To be able to win the race after John (boss and teammate John Force) had the misfortune of going out in the first round, that's something I take pride in. That's my job, to get a Castrol Funny Car in the winners' circle. Don't worry too much about John. His car is running really well. He just had a mechanical problem."

Indeed, Force, the defending champion at Maple Grove and the current points leader, was ousted in round one when the supercharger failed on his Castrol GTX Mustang in a first round match with Todd Paton.

TEAM CASTROL Details:

JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car

Qualifying position and performance: No. 2 at 4.814 seconds, 318.26 mph.

Race results: Lost to Todd Paton.

Notable: Supercharger failure ended win streak at three straight races. Still held on to first place in points.

Quotable:."It just wasn't our day. It was charging and then it just quit. But you have to five (Paton) credit, he saw we were in trouble and chased us down. But that's why I have three cars. Tony did his job. He drove a helluva race."

TONY PEDREGON, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car

Qualifying position and performance: No. 6 at 4.854 seconds, 313.29 mph.

Race results: Beat Dean Skuza, Bruce Sarver, Ron Capps and Whit Bazemore.

Notable: In winning for the fourth time this year, strengthened his hold on second place in points behind teammate John Force, who he now trails by just 122 points.

Quotable: "Our focus right now is to maintain our momentum. John Medlen and Dickie Venables gave me a race car this week that was almost perfect. What made it even better was that we beat quality race cars every round, especially Bazemore and (Crew Chief) Lee Beard in the final."

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

Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.880 seconds, 308.21 mph.

Race results: Lost to Bob Gilbertson

Notable: Retained his hold on third place in points despite losing to Gilbertson by .013 of a second in the first round

Quotable: "Hey, what can I say? It was a helluva race but he got around us right in the lights. This isn't how we wanted to make it to the winners circle (as teammate to winner Tony Pedregon) but it's better than not getting there at all."

ROB SLAVINSKI, Castrol AccuVision Pontiac, Competition Eliminator
Qualifying position and performance: 17th a 7.260 seconds, .550 under the B/AA class index.
Race results: Lost to No. 1 qualifier Allyn Armstrong.

ROB SLAVINSKI, Castrol Super Clean dragster, Super Comp Eliminator
Qualifying position and performance: All run.
Race results: Beat Steven Martel, John DiBartolomeo; lost to Jim Morrison.
Notable: Lost to the eventual race winner by just .021 of a second.

Next event(s): O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, Sept. 19-22, Memphis, Tenn.; Craftsman Nationals, Sept. 26-29, Joliet, Ill.; O'Reilly Fall Nationals, Oct. 10-13, Dallas, Texas; AC Delco Las Vegas Nationals, Oct. 24-27, Las Vegas, Nev.; Auto Club of Southern California Finals, Nov. 7-10, Pomona, Calif.

-tc-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Bob Gilbertson , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Todd Paton