Cruz Pedregon

Cruz Pedregon will have to remember to turn left.

Joey Logano will have to make sure he doesn't.

The two Snap-on Tools-sponsored racers and former Joe Gibbs Racing shoes – Pedregon a two-time NHRA Funny Car champion and Logano NASCAR's Daytona 500 winner for Team Penske – will swap seats Wednesday at zMAX Dragway and next-door neighbor Charlotte Motor Speedway at Concord, N.C.

In a rare happenstance, their crowded schedules matched for the cross-promotional experience just two days before the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series opens its fourth race of the season, the Four-Wide Nationals.

Pedregon, no stranger to circle-track racing as a racer and a sprint-car team owner, has competed along with Logano at the Prelude to the Dream charity race at Ohio's Eldora Speedway. And he took NASCAR team owner J.D. Gibbs' "Carolina Turkey" Busch Grand National Series stock car for a spin once in an open test session in the late 1990s.

"I just jumped in and started driving, no teacher or anything. I just jumped in and was on the gas," Pedregon said with a laugh. "But it'll be an honor to be a passenger in the same car the Daytona 500 winner will be driving. It'll be a thrill to be part of that and hear what he has to say."  

So Wednesday he'll get a refresher course from Logano in an X-finity Series stock car before navigating the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway quad oval and its 24-degree banked turns.

Before that, Pedregon will tutor Logano on the start-up procedures in his 10,000-horsepower, nitromethane-powered Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry and let him whap the throttle a couple of times.

"It'll be our actual race car that Joey will sit in and we'll start. It won’t be a show car," Pedregon said of the Camry. "We're going to allow him to hit the throttle and let him feel the power."   

Then the two will race down the newly resurfaced zMAX Dragway in Ford Mustang Cobra Jet cars that Roy Hill's Drag Racing School will provide. Pedregon said it’s his understanding they’ll sit side-by-side, at least at first, in a two-seater version. 

Logano, 24, has been racing since he was six years old, first in quarter-midgets, then Bandolero and Legends cars before stepping up to late-model stocks. He'll have the chance to make three solo passes at zMAX to add to his racing repertoire.

Cruz Pedregon's Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry Funny Car.

"I've seen Joey at the Four-Wide before, so I know he's somewhat familiar with drag racing," Pedregon said. "It'll be cool to get his thoughts after he sits in there with the engine running. Three years ago, Kurt Busch was a guest in our pit area, and he warmed up our Snap-on car at that time. And shortly after, he was racing a Pro Stock car [at Gainesville, where he lost in Round 1 to Erica Enders]. I'm sure it will make him [Logano] want to participate or maybe – who knows? – he'll do the same thing Kurt Busch did. Maybe he'll be out there in some kind of [drag-racing] car someday. I'm sure if he's allowed that freedom with his regular job, he'll try to do that. How can you not? A racer is a racer. I talked to Tony Stewart, and he definitely wants to add that to his resume, his list of cars he's driven."

Pedregon had no hesitation expressing whether he's more interested in getting an updated turn in a primo-prepped stock car or showing off to Logano what drag racing has to offer.

"Are you kidding me? I'm going to be so curious as to what line he takes. I mean, we're talking the Daytona 500 winner," Pedregon said enthusiastically. "I'm going to see every move this guy makes and how he turns the wheel.

"I'm sure it's going to scare the heck out of me when you go into Turn 1 and this guy's wide open about two inches from the fence. I'm going to be like a tourist and have my phone videoing it. I want to see how he does it, because this isn't an instructor. This is a championship-caliber NASCAR driver," he said. "If you put a heart-rate monitor on me – I'm not going to lie – I'm probably going to be pegging the meter just from being scared. I'm not in control of that car. I'm out of my element, so to speak. It'd be like him trying to hold the throttle down of a nitro car and the finish line is coming at you. That takes trust and nerve and all that stuff. I'm sure afterwards I'll have plenty to say."

He said, "I've never done a two-seater, other than a roller coaster. It's scary when you’re not in control. You know when you’re on a roller coaster and you hope to God the thing doesn't fall off the track? That's kind of the feeling I'm sure I'm going to have."

Pedregon paid respect to these NASCAR elite racers who dice in and out of traffic at high speeds and have to sustain their focus for several hours, a contrast to his one-on-one, four-seconds-or-less style of motorsport.        

"After racing with these [Sprint Cup Series] guys for four or five seasons with The Prelude, I absolutely think these are the baddest guys. These guys have car control that's off the charts. They have the skill set to get it done and win races," he said.

And he said he appreciates the effort that Snap-on has made.

"It's nice that motorsports is a big part of what Snap-on does and for them to get us together," Pedregon said. "Snap-on has been a longtime supporter of Penske in IndyCar and NASCAR. For me to be affiliated with a sponsor that's willing to connect in some kind of way their motorsports ventures, it's a good thing all the way around. It's really crazy that the schedule worked out so we could be in their hub, their "hometown," in an off-weekend [for NASCAR]. The schedules had to fall in line just perfect for this to happen. I don't have any expectations, other than it'll be fun. When the day ends, I'm sure we'll both have a few stories to tell."


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