LAS VEGAS - According to two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion Cruz Pedregon, you can take the boy out of the West Coast, but you can't take the West Coast out of the boy.

Pedregon, a Southern California native, took that idiom to the extreme last year when all four of his NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car victories came west of the Mississippi. Of his 34 career NHRA victories, nine have come on West Coast tracks - including three at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Pedregon returns to Las Vegas this weekend for the 15th annual NHRA Nationals as the event's defending Funny Car champion and he said he will feel right at home.

"I consider Las Vegas a bit of a home track mostly because it is West Coast. Out of all of our wins last year, they all came from west of the Mississippi," Pedregon said of his victories at Las Vegas, Houston, Denver and Dallas in 2013. "I hope to keep that west winning streak alive."

Pedregon, who grew up in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County, said Las Vegas fits his laid-back SoCal attitude.

"Vegas is a party town and a really fun town," he said. "It is what I like but the Cruz Pedregon Racing crew is coming into Vegas on a business trip."

Pedregon sits 12th in Funny Car points after three races and is coming off three consecutive first-round losses to open the season. He qualified fourth in the season opener at Pomona and is coming off a No. 1 qualifying effort at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., which gives him reason to be optimistic coming into Las Vegas.

"Our early season is pretty much on schedule, especially considering when you have new parts and new equipment that you are trying to figure out and run to its fullest potential," he said. "Gainesville was pretty much the first weekend we were out there racing and not still trying to figure things out.

"We pretty much tested from West Palm Beach to Phoenix. Now, after our weekend in Gainesville, I feel extremely confident in our car and very comfortable with our crew. We will be ready to come into Vegas and put on a show."

The 15th annual NHRA Nationals begin Friday with pro qualifying sessions at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will be at 1:10 and 4:50 p.m. Saturday, with Pro Stock runs for the K&N Horsepower Challenge at 1, 3:45 and 4:45 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Sunday.

For tickets and additional information, please call LVMS at (702) 644-4444 or visit


Schedule for the NHRA Nationals

Friday, March 28

7:30 a.m. - Spectator gates open.

8 a.m. - Sportsman qualifying.

10:30 a.m. - Comp Eliminator qualifying.

Noon - Top Alcohol qualifying.

1:30 p.m. - Pro Stock qualifying.

2 p.m. - Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.

4:30 p.m. - Pro Stock qualifying.

5 p.m. - Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.

6:30 p.m. - Jet dragsters

Saturday, March 29

7:30 a.m. - Spectator gates open.

8 a.m. - Sportsman eliminations.

10 a.m. - Comp Eliminator qualifying.

10:30 a.m. - Top Alcohol qualifying.

Noon - Comp Eliminator

1:10 p.m. - Pro Stock qualifying.

1:30 p.m. - Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.

2:45 a.m. - Top Alcohol eliminations.

3:50 p.m. - Pro Stock qualifying.

4:15 p.m. - Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.

5:30 p.m. - Jet dragsters

Sunday, March 30

7:30 a.m. - Spectator gates open.

8 a.m. - Sportsman eliminations.

10 a.m. - Pre-race ceremonies.

11 a.m. - Final eliminations begin.