NHRA: Gibbs' Drivers Holding First in NHRA Winston Point Standings
1 April 1998For the first time since Joe Gibbs became an owner of a two-car NHRA team (1995), both of his drivers -- Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel) and Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) -- are in first place at the same time in the Winston points standings.
McClenathan and Pedregon took over the points lead after the Pennzoil Nationals in Houston (March 22), the fourth event of the season.
McClenathan, driver of the McDonald's Top Fuel dragster, moved into first place after winning the Pennzoil Nationals, his second victory of the season and 18th of his career.
Pedregon, pilot of the Interstate Batteries/Hot Rod Funny Car, vaulted into the points lead with strong performances at the last two races.
He won the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. and reached the semifinal round in Houston. At each race, Pedregon set the national elapsed time Funny Car record and earned 40 points for setting the record twice.
"As an owner this is very gratifying to see both teams enjoying success," said Gibbs, who coached the Washington Redskins to three Super Bowl championships. "Both teams have the talent, the work ethic and the right chemistry to contend for the series championship."
Aside from being in first place, McClenathan and Pedregon have also produced other highlights during the early part of the season.
McClenathan set the national speed record for Top Fuel cars while Pedregon set national records in the Funny Car division for elapsed time and speed. McClenathan set the Top Fuel speed record at 322.92 miles per hour at the ATSCO Nationals in Phoenix (Feb. 22). Pedregon's Funny Car records for elapsed time (4.819) and speed (317.23) were set in Houston.
"Joe's the coach," said McClenathan, who has won 8 of the last 15 races. "He's a great motivator, who has shown me how to win, what a first-rate team is, and how important it is to have everyone on the team at the top of their game and on the same page."
Pedregon is also a beneficiary of Gibbs' inspiration. "Joe knows how to handle every situation. "He has taught me a lot about overcoming obstacles and has always been upfront with all of us. He's a great owner, who knows what it takes to field a contending team."
The next NHRA stop is the Winston Invitational, a non-pro points meet, April 3-5, at Rockingham (N.C.) Dragway. The next national points event is the Fram Nationals, April 17-19, at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.