Pedregon pleased with progress made
Topeka, Sunday: Former world champion Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon was pleased with the progress his Advance Auto Parts race team made in its inaugural outing with the group's slick new Toyota Solara body. Pedregon made five consecutive runs down Heartland Park Topeka, which made him one of the most consistent drivers in the class for the entire weekend.
"Our crew chief Rahn Tobler was focused all weekend on finding the consistency we had at the start of the year," said Pedregon, a 27-time national event winner. "We had a great meeting (Sunday) and we both realized we're in a really good place with the car and the tune-up right now. The plan is to keep doing what we're doing.
"Having a car that goes down the track every time is what wins races. It pushes your opponents out of their comfort zone at times because they know you're going to the finish line and it gives me an incredible amount of confidence in the cockpit, which is always nice to have as a driver."
Taming a hot and greasy racetrack all three days of competition, Tobler tuned Pedregon to consecutive passes of 5.026, 5.042, 4.988, 4.965, and 5.021 seconds. His Sunday morning pass of 5.021 seconds would have been much quicker -- possibly as good as 4.90 seconds -- had Pedregon not retired early after realizing he had posted a rare red-light start against first-round opponent Ron Capps.
"The general rule when you red light is to go as far as it feels good," Pedregon said. "I lifted pretty early, as the top speed of 254.33 mph indicates, but we were up in the range of 260-plus mph at half-track and that's a pretty good number for a hot track."
Pedregon pointed to his new Toyota Solara body as one of the reasons the car posted big half-track speed numbers throughout the weekend.
"I'm very impressed with this body," he said. "Obviously, the design speaks for itself. It looks fast just sitting on the ground. The visibility was so good I actually felt a little exposed the first time out there. I have never been in a car where I can see so much. It offers an exceptional view from the driver's seat. It's pretty incredible.
"I don't know that anyone gleaned a ton of down-track performance data on their bodies this weekend because it was just a little too warm but I certainly felt a lot of control. I'd have to say my first impression is very, very good."
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