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MOTOR SPORTS\Pedregon sets two Funny Car marks.

Byline: Rochelle Kaplan Special to the Daily News

Patience and optimism prevailed Saturday at the NHRA Winternationals as the rain subsided and records were set.

Although the NHRA was prepared to postpone the event one week when it looked as if the rain would not let up by late morning, Mother Nature cooperated and qualifying resumed at 2 p.m.

Fortunately for those cars using nitro methane fuel, the cool weather was ideal for producing fast times.

Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon of Camarillo, last year's event winner, set two NHRA Funny Car records with an elapsed time of 4.935 seconds at 307.06 mph down the quarter-mile strip.

"This run was like a Hail Mary pass," Pedregon said. "Everything worked good, everything clicked. (It) took my breath away. I couldn't be happier. I just hope the rain will hold off (for the finals) tomorrow."

Blaine Johnson's Top Fuel dragster also thrived in the cool weather, allowing the Santa Maria resident to produce a quarter-mile run of 4.665 seconds (a track record) at 309.17 mph (an event record).

"I'm really pleased with the way things have been working out," said Johnson, who won the final event in Pomona last October. "Conditions here are perfect. The air is cool, the track is cool and horsepower is high.

"I didn't think we'd get to run today, but I figured the NHRA would squeeze it in somehow."

In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson set an event elapsed time record of 7.015 seconds, breaking his record of 7.037 seconds set last year at the Winternationals.

The first round of eliminations should begin today at 10:30 a.m., unless Mother Nature deems otherwise.

Joe Amato, the No. 2 qualifier in Top Fuel, praised those spectators who never lost faith.

"I know a lot of people got on planes and went home," Amato said. "But a lot of fans are still here."
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 4, 1996
Words:321
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