John Force will have to wait at least two more weeks to get his 150th win. Cruz Pedregon turned off the bottom bulb, apparently accidentally, and went on to score the round win against his oldest rival. Pedregon had to pedal his Dodge Charger Funny Car twice against the 16-time champion but was able to get to the stripe first to set up a matchup against Bob Tasca III.
Force also pedaled his Chevy Camaro Funny Car twice but was not able to get it to recover the second time. That gave him a great seat to watch Pedregon soar past him. The two left the starting line just hundredths of a second apart, with Pedregon getting the better of Force .041 to .065. That didn’t factor into the decision as Pedregon ran a 4.511 to Force’s 4.540-second elapsed time.
“It was great running down Force there at the end,” said Pedregon. “He’s a wily veteran man and I guess it ended up being a little bit closer than I thought.”
The margin of victory was under five hundredths of a second and the 20 points Pedregon earned are vital in his chase for an NHRA Countdown to the Championship spot. The Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger Funny Car driver entered eliminations at the NHRA New England Nationals 128 points behind 10th place driver Shawn Langdon. The win did not earn him ground because Langdon, who Pedregon exchanged words with on Friday night, also won in the first round.
It does keep Pedregon alive though, which is all that matters for the two-time Funny Car champion. He entered eliminations Sunday with one of the most consistent cars over the three qualifying sessions. That will prove vital over the remainder of the six races (including the Epping event) if Pedregon manages to fight back into a playoff spot. He was last in the top 10 in the second race of the season.
The second round is set to begin with Top Fuel at 1:05 p.m. Eastern, which you can watch live on NHRA.tv. We are set to air on FS1 at 1 p.m.