INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to Topeka, Kan. this weekend for the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka for...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to Topeka, Kan. this weekend for the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka for the ninth of 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in 2006.
"I have three favorite tracks that we race on- Pomona, Indy and Topeka," the four-time event winner said of his trek to Kansas. "I love the track -- it has been really good to me. I won there several times in the 90's. I also love the fans in Kansas, too -- they are really enthusiastic. This year, we've aligned ourselves with a local company, Herzog, based out of St. Joseph, Missouri. Not only will we have about 300 Advance Auto Parts employees and customers at the track, we are also entertaining our friends at Herzog. I feel like we are bringing a car that can take home another win for them and all of the rest of our sponsors, and I'm very anxious to do that in Topeka."
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.
Sprawling multipurpose Heartland Park Topeka has been a Midwest favorite since it opened in 1989, but its dragstrip has gained the majority of headlines. Originally on the schedule in early fall, the event has featured numerous national records and broken barriers, the most significant of which was the dual shattering of the four-second and 300-mph barriers in Funny Car in 1993. It moved to its current spot on the schedule in 2001, where it benefits from more consistent weather.