Two-time and reigning NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon will switch gears this week as he transitions from flying down the drag strip at speeds of more than 300 mph to maneuvering a World of Outlaws late model around the four-tenths-mile clay oval at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway for the World of Outlaws World Finals.

While competing in a late model on dirt is a far cry from barreling down the track in a nitro Funny Car, Pedregon isn't a complete stranger to dirt racing. In the 1980s he raced go-karts and won a championship at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway in 1986. Pedregon then followed his father, Frank, into the world of drag racing. He worked his way up through the Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car ranks before moving up to Top Fuel competition in 1991. He won his first NHRA Funny Car championship in 1992, the second in 2008 and has 26 Funny Car wins.

Pedregon first returned to dirt after a trip to watch the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway in 2004.

"I revamped my dirt career after that race and got a USAC midget," Pedregon said. "I did that for a few years and then ran a late model in the Prelude in 2007."

Pedregon participated in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream all-star charity race for the first time in 2007. He finished 19th in the car he was provided and followed that up with a 15th-place finish in 2008. He purchased his own car to race in 2009 and brought home a sixth-place finish.

"I got serious about it this year," Pedregon said. "I wanted to do it the right way and bought all the right equipment."

While the NHRA schedule keeps him busy racing his Toyota Solara Funny Car most weekends, Pedregon fit in almost 10 other dirt late model races this year. He scored his first win in dirt late model competition on Aug. 8 at Kamp Motor Speedway in Boswell, Ind.

"It takes a little while to knock the rust off, but I've got good car control," Pedregon said.

"The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway is a beautiful track. I saw it when we were out at zMAX Dragway, and I've probably logged 500 to 600 laps on it with the World of Outlaws game on my PlayStation."

Pedregon also plans to run his No. 75 PBM/Cruz Pedregon Racing Toyota Camry in Wednesday's World of Outlaws Topless Showdown presented by Hungry-Man to get acclimated to the track and prepare for the World of Outlaws World Finals on Thursday through Saturday.

Nearly 50 late models have submitted entries for the World of Outlaws Topless Showdown and more than 50 late models and nearly 40 sprint cars are anticipated for the three-day World of Outlaws World Finals events.

Tickets for the World of Outlaws Topless Showdown are $25 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Three-day passes for the World of Outlaws World Finals are just $59 for adults and $19 for children 12 and under. Single-day tickets are also available.

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.