Sore but happy, Pedregon catapults to No. 2 slot
Chicago, Friday: Just two days after zooming around the high-banked dirt oval of Eldora Speedway for the Prelude to the Dream charity race, Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon was back in a more familiar hot rod Friday at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. And despite sore muscles and the stiff neck he earned battling the best NASCAR pros in the world, he was able to coax an impressive 4.780 at 324.51 mph out of his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara to earn the provisional No. 2 spot in the qualifying field.
"Normally I can feel when I'm on a good run but I'm so sore from the Prelude that I wasn't sure about that one," the 27-time national event winner said. "I ran against Ron [Capps, another Prelude racer] that time and he told me the same thing; He feels pretty beat up from the other night. Those dirt cars wear you out.
"If I had guessed, I would have said that run was a mid-4.80 so I was pleasantly surprised when I climbed out of the car and they said it went 4.78. Rahn [Tobler, crew chief] made a great call on the tune-up and the Advance Auto Parts Solara was really moving. Plus, the motor is clean and dry, so everything worked perfectly that time."
This is just the second race that Pedregon has employed his swoopy new Toyota Solara carbon-fiber body. Although it's very early in the team's analysis of the piece, Pedregon says the shell is showing incredible promise.
"We just posted the fastest speed to half-track of the entire day," the 1992 world champion said, "and that's including Ashley (Force, the No. 1 qualifier). We were going 265 mph at half-track and that's hauling. Last week, even though we didn't set the world on fire, we clocked 266 mph to half-track, which is the fastest of my career. It tells me this body is going to be significantly better. We're just getting started with it right now."
Even though he might prefer a deep-tissue massage, Pedregon will be back to work Saturday with two more qualifying sessions scheduled for 1 and 4 p.m.
"We'd love to stay No. 2 because the [U.S. Smokeless] Showdown deal will be here before you know it and the more points you can earn now, the better you are when it gets here," Pedregon said. "At this point we look at it like we're solidly in the field and we can work on a Sunday tune-up.
"I'd be real happy if the car goes down the track two times. I think it will. Rahn and I talked about it and we definitely saw this performance coming, even last week. So it's nice to put up a big run. It's a great payoff for this team."
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