Cruz Pedregon rode out one of the wildest runs of the season – and perhaps in NHRA history – in the first round of eliminations at the NHRA Toyota Nationals when the front tires of his Snap-on Tools Toyota lifted off early in his race with Robert Hight, then, despite Pedregon abandoning the run, the car, apparently held in place by air rushing under the car at speed, climbed to a 45-degree-plus angle as the car went down the track until he crossed the finish line 600 feet later at more than 215 mph still riding on just the two rear tires.
Pedregon, who emerged sore but unhurt after the car slammed back to the ground safely after triggering the timers with a winning run of 4.24 seconds at 218.55 mph after Hight’s mount smoked the tires, will not be able to contest his scheduled second-round race with points leader Ron Capps as the car is too badly damaged to continue. “The car’s bent like a pretzel,” he confirmed.
“All I could see was blue sky, and it was eerily quiet,” said the two-time former NHRA world champ, whose foot was off the throttle early. “I was just a helpless passenger. I was disoriented, but my biggest fear was landing on the guardwall or maybe ending up in Robert’s lane. Coming down, I knew it was going to hurt.
“It all happened so fast; I consider myself a pretty decent driver and always had told my guys I could get my foot off it early if something like that happened, but honestly my foot just came off the pedal, and it already past the point of no return.
“We got a little behind early in the clutch, and when you wear them like that, all of the sudden it gives you a ton of clutch at one spot, and that’s what happened -- a combination of that and less downforce from the laid-back headers.”
Pedregon and the Snap-on crew will test Monday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a new car in anticipation of the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona in two weeks.