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Pedregon Hoping To Cut Down The Big Guys

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 13 2011

Cruz Pedregon got the Funny Car victory at the AAA Texas Fall Nationals this fall. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

For the most part, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series has evolved into a situation that race fans worldwide know all too well: Big money, multi-car teams have left the small-budget, owner/driver teams fighting for the scraps.

But today at  the historic Pomona dragstrip, Cruz Pedregon and the team he owns and runs will make a run at feasting on the NHRA’s Funny Car entre.

Pedregon, the owner and driver of the Snap-On Tools Toyota, began this weekend’s season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California Finals third in points – 26 behind Funny Car leader Matt Hagan.

He will start today’s eliminations 35 points behind Hagan.

While Predgon’s chances at winning the Funny Car championship are thin, they are real and that is rare in a sport where high-dollar, multi-car operations like those of Don Schumacher Racing and John Force Racing dominate.

Earlier in the week, Pedregon was asked about life as a driver/owner/sponsorship chaser in the modern area of the NHRA.

“There are some disadvantages here and there,” Pedregon, “but I try not to think too much about the disadvantages. I try to think of the advantages of not having a whole bunch of guys that have to get along. If we learn something, we can keep it in house and not share it with four or five other guys.

“I’m definitely not at an advantage, that’s for sure. So somewhere along the line I’m probably at a disadvantage.”

Pedregon is a two-time NHRA champion. His last championship came in 2008.

He will start the day off Sunday by facing Bob Tasca III.

“For me the hardest thing,” he said, “and I need to work on this for next year, is to go from thinking about the car day in and day out and then have to get in there and compete at a high level against some of these drivers.

“I mean some of these guys are really, really good reaction time wise, and I might not have my best. I’ll try to bust her up one last good one here for the end of the year, because I think head to head, I like our chances.”

Pedregon’s best effort of the year came at the Motorplex near Dallas four events ago. He was top qualifier and went on to win it all on Sunday. In the final three rounds he knoecked off  Tasca, Melanie Troxel and DSR’s Ron Capps.

Since then the going has been tough as he had back-to-back first round losses at Reading and Phoenix before rebounding by getting to the semi final round at Las Vegas.

“Our cars run as good or better than these other guys,” Pedregon said. “Give or take, there are always those rounds. But I think for sure if I’ve got to work on something, I’ve got to work on me. And that is trying to focus my attention on Sunday is to try to be the best that I can be.

“Because a lot of these guys, that’s all they think about, and they’re good at it. I’m over there thinking about clothes and timing plots and this and that and oh, I’ve got to race. So for me I’ll try to shore up those weak areas and hopefully we can.”

And if he can? He, his team and those who like to pull for the little guy will have a happy day today.

“he fact that we’re competing for a championship with a one car team, I think it’s phenomenal,” Predregon said. “Nobody wants to hear about phenomenal. My sponsors want me to win just like the other guys. I like the fact that we’re in it. We stack all the dice on racing, and we’ll see what happens at the end.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 13 2011
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