Cruz Pedregon is no stranger to success in Sonoma.
The longtime Funny Car driver has won there twice and will compete this weekend, when the 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals rev up at Sonoma Raceway.
Pedregon, who has been an NHRA pro category driver since 1991, is a two-time Funny Car world champion, winning titles in 1992 and 2008.
“I thought if I last a year or two, I’ll be good,” Pedregon said. “And (27 years later) here we are.”
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Even with all the experience, he says “there are still some nerves, some butterflies.”
He has named each of his cars. The last one was “El Chicano.” His current car is “El Guapo,” which means “the handsome one” in Spanish.
“I try to be unique,” he said. “I try to have a little edge.”
He unintentionally put on a unique show last week at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Morrison, Colo. During qualifying on July 20, the body of Pedregon’s car exploded off. He was OK and raced through the weekend, eventually losing in Sunday’s Funny Car quarterfinals to John Force, who went on to win the event.
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Pedregon will try to stop J.R. Todd’s streak in Sonoma. Todd is seeking his third consecutive Funny Car victory at the speedway. Also seeking a three-peat there is L.E. Tonglet in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) were winners last year as well.
The Bee’s Bill Poindexter contributed to this report.