Cruz Pedregon should have had a clue his final qualifying run for the NHRA Big O Tires Nationals was going to be extra special even though he was unable to see The Strip at Las Vegas’ scoreboard.
“Going too fast,” Pedregon explained when asked about the timing tower which displays the time and speed of each run. “Missed them even though they are at the quarter-mile. Then the guys came on the radio and let me know.”
Pedregon scored his 50th pole position on the strength of a 4.066 elapsed time at 312.50 miles per hour, beating out Friday’s provisional low qualifier Mike Neff.
“I feel like an old guy with 50 of these because it means I have been doing this a long time,” Pedregon said. “If my career were to end, I’ve been lucky to drive some good cars. This San-on Tools car is as good as any of them.”
Pedregon’s run came after qualifying was delayed by an hour while NHRA officials repaired damage to the right lane.
Pedregon’s pace-setting run came in the repaired right lane.
“I thought for a moment we weren’t even going to run,” Pedregon said. “We went from complaining about not getting out of here on time to having the conditions come to us. If we had run when scheduled, the track might not have held that run. We took advantage of it.
“It’s just a credit to our team that we were able to get our fifth No. 1 of the season. This is a great car but we still have a goose egg in the win column this season. This is a credit to my team and a credit to the NHRA’s repair of the track. We want to make the win happen tomorrow.”
The run, as Pedregon put it, was not expected to yield a No. 1 effort but just maintain pace.
“I felt confident and even if it had ran an .08 or .09, I would have been fine,” said Pedregon. “What is great is we usually run a little quicker than we set it up to run. This is a nice bonus. We didn’t expect this.”
If Pedregon had any concern, it was with his crew members picking up debris in their eyes if the track was coming apart.
“I always make sure my guys are either wearing safety glasses or sun glasses,” Pedregon said. “I drove for a team, the Miner Brothers, in 1990 when a son of one of the owner had a glass eye from Fremont Raceway.”
Pedregon is a two-time winner at the Vegas facility and races Bob Tasca III in Sunday’s first round.
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