INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 19, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to Kent, Wash. (near Seattle) this weekend for the NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways,...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 19, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to Kent, Wash. (near Seattle) this weekend for the NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways, the 14th of 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in 2006. Pedregon moved into ninth place in the NHRA point standings after their last round in Denver.
NHRA's annual trek to the Great Northwest transports racers and fans to one of the tour's most breathtaking environments. The event is contested at venerable Pacific Raceways, surrounded by towering pine trees and parked in the shadow of majestic Mount Rainier, and represents the middle stop on NHRA's long-running and much-publicized Western Swing. The trees add more than beauty: They emit tons of power-enhancing oxygen to feed the appetite of the high-horsepower machines, resulting in prime performances. Track management extended the concrete launchpads to 660 feet in 2004, and 10,000 aluminum seats have been added on the tower side of the track for 2006.
"The great Northwest is kind of like being home, as there are some long-time drag racing fans in Seattle, and I love to go there," Pedregon said. "It's an older race that is very special to me -- my dad used to race in the area. We are definitely looking forward to racing closer to sea level, especially since Seattle has had some of the coolest temperatures in the nation in the past week. Seattle is a great part of the country to race in, with the cool ocean breezes and so many trees which help our cars "breathe" a bit better. It's a great show for the fans because of the quick times."
After last week's final round appearance, Pedregon is happy to head into the rest of the second-half of the season on a positive trend: "We're looking forward to continuing our momentum from last week's final round appearance. After the Advance Auto Parts Team's good start to the second half of the season this year, I'm hoping to continue in Seattle and get our team in the winner's circle."
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.
How to get to Pacific Raceways: The track is 10 miles east of Interstate 5 on Highway 18. From I-5, use Exit 142A (Auburn exit) and travel east 10 miles on Highway 18, following the signs to the track. From other points, use Highway 18 and exit SE 304th Street or SE 312th Street.
After conquering the quarter-mile Pacific Raceways this weekend, the NHRA warriors head to Sonoma, Calif. and Infineon Raceway on July 28-30. Check your local ESPN2 listings for broadcast times and event coverage.