Cruz Pedregon fired Aaron Brooks. He brought on Tommy DeLago shortly thereafter in 2018 but did not bring the veteran tuner back on board for the 2019 season. That decision, mostly through back channels and mealy-mouthed criticism, has been questioned ever since. Pedregon took over tuning duties with Glen Huszar as the crew chief on the Snap-on Dodge Charger for 2019.
The noise doesn’t really matter. All anyone should care about is whether Pedregon’s Funny Car is running better in 2019 than it did in 2018. The answer is, objectively, yes. First, remember that it doesn’t really matter how Pedregon gets things done because, well, this is a results business. Snap-on may love him because he makes great shrimp cocktail (can neither confirm nor deny) but that is not why we love him (well, speak for yourself).
Let’s look at some of the numbers for Pedregon in 2018. He averaged a 4.045-second average elapsed time, got down the track 60 percent of the time and posited a below-average NHRA Power Ranking (32.04). That’s not great! He did not make the Countdown to the Championship, which is not a great way to evaluate a team, but I’ll go out on a limb and say he didn’t enjoy that experience. His speed was down, his 60-foot times were soft and overall, the car did not run very well.
A common criticism after making a change is what I call the “upgrade fallacy.” Pedregon made the decision to go his own way, and as a result some feel he is obligated to do more than maintain his performance; he must exceed it by tenths of a second. That’s stupid! If you paid someone to cook for you and you found out you could do equal (or even slightly worse!) work by yourself for substantially less money, you would … well, probably do it yourself.
Here’s the thing: the Snap-on Charger has been better this season. Pedregon has picked up .012-second, gotten down the track 64-percent of the time and his NHRA Power Ranking has increased to 46. That means he’s driving what is (just about) an average car after making the move to tuner in just the 10th race of the season. That’s an incredibly swift move for a team that can’t possibly be considered high budget.
Pedregon enters qualifying at the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals in the No. 12 spot. He’s 11th in points and only needs 42 points to get past Bob Tasca III and move into a Countdown to the Championship position. There are still a handful of races to go for the former Funny Car champion to get back into a playoff spot and if he continues at this pace, he has a very good shot at doing just that.