FOX, NHRA set to wrap up successful first season live from Pomona
Rolling into this weekend’s final event of the season, the Auto Club Finals from Pomona, Calif., the inaugural season of the NHRA on FOX has delivered some of the largest television audiences in drag racing history, with four events topping one million viewers and four more eclipsing 750,000.
Through 23 events, average viewership of the NHRA on FS1/FOX is up 25 percent year-to-year versus ESPN/ESPN2’s 2015 numbers (650,000 vs. 521,000). And, perhaps more importantly, gains with younger viewers have been even more impressive, with Adults 18-49 posting a 50 percent increase and Adults 25-54 up 46 percent.
With three of the four professional categories still undecided, FOX Sports delivers a three-hour live broadcast on Sunday, Nov. 13 (4-7 p.m. ET) on FS1. One-hour NHRA on FOX Qualifying sessions air on FS1 on Saturday, Nov. 12 (12:30 a.m. ET) and Sunday, Nov. 13 (11:30 a.m. ET).
Dave Rieff hosts NHRA on FOX coverage, with two-time NHRA Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon providing analysis and Jamie Howe, Bruno Massel and John Kernan reporting from the pits.
Offering perspective from his first year as a FOX Sports television analyst, Pedregon talks about his inaugural season behind the mic:
FOX Sports: So, your first year as a television analyst is about done -- grade your effort and tell me where you feel like you are now as compared to the first event of the season.
Pedregon: “On a scale of 1-10, I would give myself a 3 for the opening race (voices in my earpiece really threw me)... and that might be a little generous. At this point, maybe getting closer to a 7, but I am a perfectionist and I know I can get better. I see so many things that are interesting that I know I can find a way to bring to light.”
FOX Sports: Your brother, Cruz, nearly got airborne with a crazy wheel stand at Las Vegas. What was it like being in the booth, calling that action?
Pedregon: “Crazy spectacular. If I could call that again I would just say, ‘Imagine yourself in his seat.’ Everything had to go silent and from his perspective, he had to be thinking what's going to happen when I land.”
FOX Sports: On the track, whose performance surprised you the most this season?
Pedregon: “Antron (Brown) was not a big surprise, considering I believe they are the most well-balanced Top Fuel team. I thought Doug Kalitta might be able to pull it off, but the team didn't finish strong. I would say Capps is the biggest surprise. There were many teams that challenged throughout the year, but they managed to maintain the points lead nearly all season in a very tough category.”
FOX Sports: With a third Top Fuel title, where does Antron Brown start to fit in with the all-time nitro greats?
Pedregon: “In a category with drivers like (Don) Garlits, (Tony) Schumacher, (Kenny) Bernstein, & (Shirley) Muldowney, I would put him getting close to top five. I would rank him higher than some not mentioned if we are talking about sheer driver ability.”
FOX Sports: What will the big NHRA storyline(s) be heading into 2017?
Pedregon: “Even better TV ratings as our on-air chemistry continues to improve and everyone gets the first year under our belts. Another should be who can stop Antron. A few drivers have the performance, but can they elevate their game? Pro Stock will be much more interesting considering the growing parody in the class. Several teams can now challenge Greg Anderson and Jason Line, but they will be solid. Pro Stock Motorcycle will be fun to watch. And teams forming and merging, with strong fields at every event.”
FOX Sports: OK, one full season away from the track -- any desire to get back behind the wheel?
Pedregon: “It's hard not to think about getting behind the wheel, especially when I'm at the track every race. I just have to keep reminding myself I've done it plenty of times.”
To learn more about Pedregon and the entire NHRA on FOX broadcast team, please visit FOX Sports Press Pass for bios, photos and archived press releases.
Seven years later, Force, Pedregon officially bury the hatchet
It was one of the wildest off-track moments to ever take place at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, and seven years later, John Force and Tony Pedregon officially buried the hatchet – on national TV, no less – after their wild, name-calling, body-shoving spat at the 2009 event.
Pedregon had openly accused Force of deliberately losing his semifinal race with teammate Robert Hight so that Hight could advance to the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Exacerbating the situation was that Hight’s win knocked defending Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon -- Tony's brother -- out of the Countdown. Hight ultimately was able to win the championship from the 10th seed, the lowest seed that has even gone on to win a championship in the Countdown era.
The two shared a feel-good moment during this year's event, sealed with a trademark Force kiss on the cheek of Pedregon, who is no longer competing and is NHRA FOX’s analyst for the national broadcasts.
“Spark of Hope” announces its 5th Annual Charity Auction to benefit cancer research
The Andrea Pedregon Charity Foundation, Inc. “Spark of Hope” announces its 5th Annual Charity Auction to benefit cancer research at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center.
The live auction will be held at the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Cruz Pedregon’s Snap On hospitality area following the last pro qualifying run on Saturday, September 3rd. 2X Funny Car Champ/FOX Racing Analyst, Tony Pedregon, will emcee the event. Race fans are welcome and will find unique collectables from their favorite teams/drivers to bid on.
Foundation director Andrea Pedregon said, “The auction is always entertaining and ultimately raises money for a great cause I am very passionate about. This year we will honor my brother in law, 3X NHRA Top Fuel Champ, Larry Dixon, who was recently treated for throat cancer. He has always been a tough competitor and beating cancer was just another battle he successfully got through. For that, we are immensely grateful.”
Dixon was treated at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center. For more information regarding his story please visit http://bit.ly/2aWHfMr .
The Andrea Pedregon Charity Foundation “Spark of Hope” was established in 2010 and is best known for its projects and auctions. Funds raised go to children’s causes, children’s cancer research, melanoma and prostate & colon cancer research. To date, Andrea’s charity has donated close to $200,000. The foundation is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
For additional information regarding the auction, go to www.apcf.tonypedregon.com.
U.S. Nationals to be shown live on broadcast TV for first time
FOX Sports offers comprehensive live Labor Day weekend coverage of the prestigious 62nd annual NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, drag racing’s premier event and the final race before the highly anticipated Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin later in September.
FS1 airs highlights from U.S. Nationals qualifying Sunday, Sept. 4 (Noon and 5 p.m. ET). Coverage continues on FS1 with two hours of live eliminations Monday, Sept. 5 (11 a.m. ET), before moving to FOX at 1 p.m. ET for a three-hour show.
Monday’s Final Round on FOX marks the first time in history the historic event will air live on broadcast television.
Eight-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher leads all active racers with nine wins at Indy (tied with Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden for most all time), while Pro Stock pilot Greg Anderson is next among active drivers with six victories. Read Full Story
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