Marcus Smith Offers $20,000 for John Force-Tony Pedregon Grudge Match during NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway
Determined to give drag racing fans the race they want to see in the wake of the U.S. Nationals, Speedway Motorsports President Marcus Smith is offering to host a winner-take-all $20,000 grudge race between John Force and Tony Pedregon on Friday night, Sept. 18, during the NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
"I'm a race fan at heart and after watching the U.S. Nationals at Indy, and the heated confrontation between John and Tony, I can say without a doubt that's the matchup I want to see at the Carolinas Nationals," said Smith. "Those guys nearly came to blows. What better way to kickoff an exciting weekend than ending the first Pro day with a $20,000-to-win ‘Grudge Match at zMAX' between those two champions?"
The drama started at Indianapolis when Robert Hight beat teammate and team owner Force in the semifinals, taking the 10th and final spot away from Cruz Pedregon in the Funny Car Countdown to 1 field. The Pedregon brothers claim Force threw the race to ensure his fourth team car made the playoffs (Force's other three team cars had already qualified).
While Cruz claimed Force "cheats and manipulates the outcome of these races," his brother Tony confronted Force when he arrived at the Top End. The confrontation became heated with NHRA officials having to step between the two Funny Car champions. (See the video on ESPN's Web site.)
Tony, who is an owner/driver for his one-car operation, took up the banner for the "little guy," stating, "I just disagree that you should be able to change the outcome of a race."
Force gave a response predictable for the 14-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion, "He (Pedregon) wants to fight, let's see him fight this old man out on the racetrack."
"This is high drama on drag racing's biggest stage," Smith added. "You have the two most successful drivers in Funny Car history pointing fingers at each other, both of them want one thing and that's to settle it on the quarter-mile. Well we're going to give them a high-stakes way to do just that right in front of the fans."
Force and Pedregon lead the NHRA Funny Car win list with at total of 169 wins between the two, with Force being responsible for 126 of them. Their history runs deep with Pedregon running his first season in Funny Car with John Force Racing in 1996 and scoring his first NHRA Full Throttle championship in 2003 while driving for Force.
Tickets are still available for the Sept. 17-20 NHRA Carolinas Nationals and can be purchased by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online. Sunday's eliminations on Sept. 20, including the four-wide exhibition races, begin at $45 and most affordable four-day ticket package in NHRA begins at just $99 each.