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

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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.

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Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series
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After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi