By Briar Starr, NHRA Staff Writer
For the first time in a long time, two-time Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon, qualified No. 1 in back-to-back races at the Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals.
Pedregon, the California native, posted a time of 3.910 at 326.71 mph from Friday’s qualifying session. The time miraculously held up during the final three rounds of qualifying before he went on to earn his second straight No. 1 qualifier of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series Season.
“We stayed No. 1 and I’m grateful for that,” Pedregon said. “The team made the right calls today and we made down the track three of our four runs. Now, we just need to keep doing the same thing, be consistent and race the track (tomorrow). You have to be smart. The guys that are disciplined and don’t press are the ones that have success. We’ll see what the day brings (on Sunday), but it’s anybody’s race out there.”
While Pedregon enjoyed having the No. 1 qualifier, another driver, J.R. Todd was coming into the Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals hoping for a fresh start after his DHL Funny Car was destroyed in qualifying two weekends ago at the WinterNationals in Pomona, California.
After all, the Kalitta Motorsports team worked tirelessly to rebuild the two destroyed Funny Cars during the Easter holiday weekend.
Unfortunately, despite being on the bump spot at No. 16 following Q1 on Friday, Todd could never make it over the hump during the final remaining rounds of qualifying, and his run of 4.272 at 214.62 mph was not good enough to make the show and ended up last on the scoreboard.
Rightfully, Todd was disappointed about his qualifying runs and called the weekend forgettable.
“Definitely a forgettable weekend. I put the blame on me. I should have done a better job earlier in the weekend and keeping the thing in the groove and not come down to Q4 to get in the show. All in all, I feel bad for my guys., All the work they put in this past week to get this DHL GR Supra back on track. All the guys back at PBRC (Precision Built Race Cars) and everybody at Kalitta Motorsports and back at the fab shop for busting their ass to get us back out here. This is a tough pill to swallow, but I’m sure we’ll stay and run on Monday to get this thing figured out. It’s still early in the season and there’s a lot of racing left.”
Other notables in qualifying include DC Motorsports Alexis DeJoria who qualified second. DeJoria posted a run of 3.933 and 329.19 mph while current Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan rounded out the top three by going 3.936 at 327.82 mph.
Final eliminations begin Sunday afternoon at Noon pacific time live on NHRA.TV, while Fox Sports 1 will have tape-delayed coverage at 9:30 p.m./Eastern time.
The elimination ladder for Funny Car can be seen below along with the DNQ’s which include Todd, Terry Haddock, and Jeff Arend.
1. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 3.910, 326.71 vs. 16. Steven Densham, Ford Mustang, 4.082, 284.09 vs. 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.967, 312.06 vs. 9. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 3.976, 273.55; 2. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 3.933, 329.18 vs. 15. Jason Rupert, Mustang, 4.054, 317.87 vs. 7. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.945, 324.83 vs. 10. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.982, 320.89; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.936, 327.82 vs. 14. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.049, 275.28 vs. 6. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.942, 330.23 vs. 11. Alex Laughlin, Charger, 3.996, 318.17; 4. Ron Capps, Supra, 3.937, 324.44 vs. 13. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.040, 312.42 vs. 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.938, 325.69 vs. 12. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.006, 279.50.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Haddock, 4.104, 304.46; 18. Jeff Arend, 4.204, 271.84; 19. J.R. Todd, 4.272, 214.62.