Sunday, August 16, 2009

NHRA funny car driver Tony Pedregon wins at Brainerd

Two days after replacing his crew chief, Tony Pedregon won the National Hot Rod Assn. funny car portion of the races at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota on Sunday.
Pedregon, the leader in the funny car standings, announced on Friday that he and Dickie Venables were parting ways. Venables was Pedregon’s crew chief and led his team to two wins this season. Tony Shortall was named interim crew chief. Rahn Tobler was assisting the team with some of the crew chief duties.
Pedregon beat Ron Capps in the final and moved into first place in the funny car standings. Pedregon has an 11-point lead over Capps.
“I’ve had a long and successful career,” said Pedregon. “I’ve been very fortunate to be able to drive for guys like Larry Minor and John Force. I’ve learned a lot from them, and I really felt that I’d been through everything, and I really didn’t anticipate this happening on such a short notice. Thursday I knew the reality and I didn’t really feel like I was in a panic. I’m very optimistic and I really believed that I had a good foundation to work with. I addressed my team when I showed up, and I told them that I really need them.”
Jack Beckman, a driver from North Hills, advanced to the semifinals and clinched a spot in the Countdown to One, the NHRA playoffs.
“We’re back in fourth place, which is awesome,” he said. “We’re thinking it’s going to be pretty tough to get up into third the way Tony Pedregon (No. 1), Ron Capps (No. 2), and Ashley Force Hood (No. 3) have been running.
“And we’re not safe in fourth by any stretch. Tim Wilkerson is still right on our heels and so are a slew of other good cars. But, we’re solid top five. We went a couple of rounds, we’re starting to get a handle on this tune-up and I think it’s gong to translate to another win pretty quick here.”
In the top fuel division, Larry Dixon, a Van Nuys High graduate, was a perfect 4-0 in final appearances entering the races at Brainerd. He lost for the first time in the finals on Sunday.
Morgan Lucas handed Dixon his first final defeat of the year. Lucas has won two top fuel events in a row and the 12th top fuel event of his career.

Photo: Tony Pedregon won the NHRA funny car portion of the races at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota on Sunday, two days after he and his crew chief parted ways.

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