Words by Kay Burk
Photos by Ian Tocher and Todd Dziadosz
ony Pedregon and his Q Racing Nitro Funny Car made it to winner's circle at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, Pedregon's first win as a team owner.
In a nerve-racking final round against John Force, Pedregon won a pedal fest with a 6.349-second elapsed time at 191.02 mph to beat Force's 8.339 pass. Pedregon won this race back in 2003 while he was a member of Force's team.
"From the beginning, I felt the car was getting loose," Pedregon said of the final round run. "I thought my only chance was to get off and on the throttle and hope that the tires recovered. I fought it hard, and even the blower backfired on me, but I was able to pedal it down the track. Force had to deal with similar challenges to control the car."
Crew chief Dickie Venables explained what this win meant to him, saying, "After more than a year and a half of hard work, this victory is very gratifying. It makes up for the incident we had on the starting line in Indy. I am very glad to bring this victory to Q Racing because they deserved better than what we had been doing so far. Now we have proved what we knew all along we could do."
During the first pass of the day, Pedregon beat Mike Ashley to the finish line, clicking off a 4.850-second elapsed time at 316.90 mph to Ashley's 5.189/226.16. This was Pro Mod champ Ashley's second national event in the seat of a Funny Car. In the second round, Pedregon had to face his brother, Frank, recording a 5.251 to Frank's 5.871-second pass. The third Pedregon brother, Cruz, did not make the Funny Car field.
For the semifinal round, Pedregon ran against Gary Scelzi and, unlike Indianapolis, the Q Monte Carlo driver arrived at the finish line first with a 4.907-second elapsed time at 314.97 mph.