BAYTOWN, Texas — Cruz Pedregon isn’t concerned about his slow start to the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Besides, the two-time Funny Car world champion has a strong history at Royal Purple Raceway, the site of the series’ next event.
Pedregon has three career victories at the track, including his first professional win. The driver of the Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry also enters this weekend’s 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries as the defending event champion.
“We’re right on the cusp of making consistently fast runs,” said Pedregon, who is 12th in points. “I think we are prepared to climb the ladder and get back to where we were most of last year. I think we’re right there and there are no concerns. Houston has been a great track for me. I’ve had success there even going back to the Alcohol Dragster ranks.”
Bob Vandergriff (Top Fuel) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were also winners of last year’s event.
Pedregon knocked off Tim Wilkerson a year ago in the final round at Houston and his three victories at Royal Purple Raceway are third-most in Funny Car, behind only his brother Tony’s four and reigning world champion John Force’s seven.
Despite the track’s unique challenges and ever-shifting climate in the area, Pedregon has seemingly always been in tune with what his car has needed in Houston. He expects another challenge this weekend but it might prove to be just the race he needs to get his season on track.
“It’s a combination of the atmospheric conditions along with a track that has a lot of personality,” Pedregon said. “You can’t just throw everything at it. You have to be good with your setup and good with the clutch. We’ve been able to bring that to the table, and I credit that to our success.”
Pedregon’s 2013 win at Royal Purple Raceway was one of four during a season that saw him grab the points lead for a short stretch. He was in the top five for the majority of the season, and finished fourth overall.
Pedregon suffered through first-round losses at four of the first five races this season.
“Do we want to see some good, consistent runs? Of course, but you can’t put all of that pressure on one race,” Pedregon said. “It would be nice to do well and I think we’re capable of it, but it’s one of many opportunities to perform well. It’s an important race but to say it’s more important than others, that’s not the case.”