What you need to know for NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte on FS1
For just one event each season ... 10,000 horsepower NHRA Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters ... side by side by side by side ... 40,000 horsepower in less than four seconds!
In the one and only event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season pitting four cars against each other at the starting line, FS1 delivers three hours of final round coverage of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods on Sunday, April 24 (4:30 p.m. ET), along with two hours of four-wide qualifying coverage on Saturday, April 23 (10:00 p.m. ET).
After the season's first four events, viewing of FOX Sports NHRA events is up 22% over 2015 (771,000 viewers vs. 633,000) according to Nielsen Media Research. Viewership for the NHRA's previous event -- the Denso Spark Plug Nationals at Las Vegas -- averaged nearly 1.3 million viewers and peaked at more than 1.5 million.
Dave Rieff (@DaveRieff) and analyst Tony Pedregon (@TonyPedregon) call the action for FS1, with Bruno Massel (@BrunoMassel) and Jamie Howe (@1JamieHowe) reporting from the pits.
"The first thing I do is watch and listen to what happens," Rieff said of the unique format. "Side-by-side drag racing is intense enough, but when four cars take off, each with 10,000 ponies, you can't take your eyes off of the track for a second. Why? A thousandth of a second can advance you to the next round.
"I love the challenge of dissecting the numbers from four cars, trying to figure out who advances, and then seeing what the numbers tell us," Rieff added. "After all, this is the only race you can win with a triple hole-shot!"
Pedregon, in his first year as a full-time NHRA television analyst, is preparing for the challenging setup from a new perspective.
"I'm watching lots of old four-wide coverage to prepare," said Pedregon, a two-time NHRA Funny Car champion. "As a driver, my time was always occupied setting the car up and trying to make the necessary adjustments that we will see drivers make in all the pro categories. The biggest challenge for them will be figuring out what lights stage their car on the starting line. Surprisingly, after several years of the four-wide event, it still confuses some drivers, causing them to lose races because of the additional three cars that line up to race." Full Story
For the Pedregons, rise to the top of NHRA has been a family affair
Many family racing dynasties begin with stories of encouragement.
For Cruz and Tony Pedregon, however, that was far from the case as their father - Flamin’ Frank Pedregon - actually discouraged them from racing due to the danger that surrounded any form of motor racing back in the 1960’s.
However, both Cruz and Tony are heading to the zMAX Dragway this weekend in Charlotte, N.C., both with two NHRA Funny Car championships under their belt, and new careers for each of them on the horizon.
While Tony will be calling the action for FOX Sports up in the booth, Cruz will be down in the garage and out on the drag-strip, tuning up his own Snap-on sponsored Cruz Pedregon Racing, Inc. Funny Car.
The first of the Pedregon’s four Funny Car championships came for Cruz back in 1992, although it would be another 16 years until he would win his second one. During that time, Cruz made the switch from hired driver to team owner and had secured a multi-million-dollar sponsor in the form of Advance Auto Parts, which rode with him down the drag strip en route to his 2008 championship. Read Full Story
One brother trades racing for TV booth
Every now and then Cruz Pedregon finds himself glancing out of his trailer thinking he’ll see his younger brother, Tony, parked next door.
Cruz won’t find Tony in the pit area these days, but he’s still in the vicinity.
Tony Pedregon now sets up shop in the media center as the Fox Sports analyst for National Hot Rod Association coverage.
The Pedregon brothers had competed against each other in the Funny Car event for close to 20 years. Tony, 51, decided it was time to move on after the 2015 season.
Tony Pedregon, with no prior TV experience, joined the Fox team this season and is calling his fourth ever NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series this weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I think after the first weekend I was ready to get back into the car,” Pedregon said, “but I feel more comfortable now. I made a career out of this for close to 20 years, so it was hard at first. This is a new challenge, and I understand the importance of this sport and it needs some appeal. I can provide that.”
David Rieff teamed up with Pedregon in the booth doing the play-by-play coverage. Fox Sports took over this year as the NHRA’s TV provider after ESPN televised the racing events for 14 years.
Cruz Pedregon, 52, could relate with his younger brother. He was on the ESPN team as the color analyst during its inaugural season with NHRA in 2001.
“I gave him a little advice,” said Cruz, who has competed in Funny Car for 25 years. “Tony has his own way of doing things. I do know he’s been working, putting in the time, studying film. He’s a great analyst. He has the right idea and knows how represent the sport.” Full Story
FOX Sports kicks off historic NHRA TV deal at Pomona
FOX Sports opens its new television partnership with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) with three hours of live Sunday Finals coverage from the 56th Annual Circle K Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 14 (5 p.m. ET) on FS1.
Dave Rieff provides the play-by-play, with analysis from two-time NHRA Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon, who is making his full-time broadcast debut. Bruno Massel and Jamie Howe report from the pits of Pomona’s Auto Club Raceway. Indianapolis Bureau Chief John Kernan provides feature reports and Lewis Bloom handles statistics and features.
The broadcast team began the process of building chemistry with a full dress rehearsal over the weekend at the NHRA Nitro Spring Training sessions at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.
“It helped me more than you can imagine,” Pedregon said. “To this point, all I have been able to do is watch and listen. I knew going through a rehearsal would benefit the team but, especially me since I am the only one that is coming into this position with minimal experience. I feel the pressure, but I also feel also the excitement… and, like anything else, the more we work together, the better we will become as a team and the end result will be a great show.”
Out of the Funny Car and into the booth: Pedregon Q&A
The Spring Training session also gave Pedregon and the team a peek at what to expect on the track this season.
“The most impressive run came from a Funny Car,” Pedregon said. “In test conditions, Tommy Johnson Jr. made a run slightly quicker than the current record. Aside from that run, indications from the other Top Fuel and Funny Car teams is that it will be a performance-breaking year, as most cars were quick and consistent.”
Last summer, FOX Sports and the NHRA announced a historic television package highlighted by 16 live events, including four on the FOX broadcast network – a first for the professional drag racing series.
In all, FS1 and FOX will air more than 120 hours of original television programming around the world’s fastest motorsport series. FOX Sports’ combined networks, including FOX, FS1 and FS2, will air more than 450 hours of programming throughout the year, including coverage of the Lucas Oil Series, J&A Service Pro Mod Series and repeats of Mello Yello Series race coverage.
Qualifying coverage from Pomona premieres on FS1 on Friday, Feb. 12 (10:30 p.m. ET) and continues Saturday night (Sunday morning) at 1 a.m. ET. Coverage is available in Canada through FOX SPORTS RACING, and streaming online in the U.S. through the authenticated FOX SPORTS GO app.
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