A dramatic ride: NHRA’s Cruz Pedregon gives new meaning to ‘pedaling’ a Funny Car (video)

3 Comments

It’s been a rough season for NHRA Funny Car driver and past champion Cruz Pedregon, including failing to make the Countdown to the Championship playoff.

But Sunday, Pedregon recorded arguably one of the biggest high points of his season — if not his career — and got tons of notoriety for it (over 400,000 views on NHRA.com as of late Monday).

You see, Pedregon was making what appeared to be a routine run in Sunday’s first round of eliminations of the Toyota NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his car went into full frontal wheelie mode.

That’s right, one minute the Southern California native was horizontal, looking at the finish line ahead … and the next, he was staring straight up at the sky.

“I think I wheelstood longer than the Wright Brothers flew through the air,” Pedregon joked afterward with Susan Wade of CompetitionPlus.com.

2016_Cruz_Pedregon head shot
Cruz Pedregon

While blowovers (the term when a car goes backward and rolls over) in NHRA competition are rare, the masterful job Pedregon did to keep his car under control is something drag racing fans will be talking about for a long time.

Also, give credit to the chassis — and especially the wheelie bars at the back of Pedregon’s car — as they kept potential disaster from happening.

Fox Sports 1 analyst — and Cruz’s younger brother — Tony Pedregon was in awe at what his sibling did. And he’d still likely be as amazed even if they weren’t related.

“That’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen a Funny Car do,” Tony Pedregon said during the live broadcast. “That car came up and then came down, he didn’t overreact and he maintained the steering in that car.”

Perhaps the best part of the whole episode is the man nicknamed “the Cruzer” not only regained control, he also went on to win that first round race with Robert Hight.

“Thankfully, when I landed, I was going straight,” the older Pedregon brother told Wade. “I turned on the win light, and all I could do is shake my head because I had just got a three-for-one deal: I survived, got the win-light and didn’t get hurt.”

Unfortunately, too much damage was done to Cruz’s car from the wheelie — NHRA rules do not allow for a replacement car or body to be used on race day — that he wasn’t able to race Funny Car points leader Ron Capps in the quarterfinals.

You’ve heard of the expression “car control” in racing? A picture of Pedregon’s face should be next to that definition the next time they print a dictionary.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Juncos Racing to field single car entry in Indy 500

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Part-time NTT IndyCar Series entrant Juncos Racing will announce their attempt to qualify for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 within the next few weeks, according to RACER.

The team, which made its Indy 500 debut in 2017, ran 12 of the 17 IndyCar Series races last season, but has only made a start in one of the four events so far in 2019, finishing 18th in the inaugural running of the IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas with Kyle Kaiser behind the wheel.

Though no driver has yet to be announced for the single-car entry, Kaiser is expected to be the leading candidate for the ride. The 23-year-old Californian has raced for the team since 2014, where he won the 2017 Indy Lights championship.

One of the top teams in the Road to Indy ladder system, Juncos Racing has over 50 wins between Indy Lights and Indy Pro 2000 competition. The team’s most recent victory came in the second Indy Lights race at St. Petersburg this year with Rinus VeeKay behind the wheel.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter