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Tue, 23 Oct 2001, 08:34 AM

Cruz Pedregon and Advance Auto Parts in "Cruz Control" with Multi-Year
Courtesy of Andrew Lieb

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- Current ESPN analyst and Former NHRA Funny Car World Champion Cruz Pedregon announced a multi-year sponsorship with Advance Auto Parts that will begin with the 2002 race season and include primary sponsorship of the team's Nitro Funny Car, driven and owned by Cruz Pedregon.

Since 1992, when he captured the Winston championship as a rookie, Cruz Pedregon has been a fan favorite and a fierce competitor on the NHRA drag racing circuit. Over the course of a stellar racing career, Cruz has won 22 national events in 40 final round appearances placing him currently fourth overall in career Funny Car Victories. Cruz, 38, also has won drag racing's most prestigious event, the U.S. Nationals, three times.

"I am very proud to partner with a company like Advance Auto Parts which will enable me to pursue my dream of being champion once again," Pedregon said. " I've enjoyed my brief career as an ESPN TV analyst with NHRA, but my passion for racing has and always has been to compete in Funny Car and win races. The most commonly asked question by my fans is 'When are you going to be back behind the wheel'? I am happy to finally say to them I am back!"

"We couldn't be more pleased to announce our sponsorship of Cruz Pedregon and his NHRA Funny Car race team," said Geoff McCarty, Senior Vice President of Advertising for Advance Auto Parts. "His solid reputation as both a fiercely competitive driver, and a role model for the Hispanic and racing communities made him an obvious choice. Cruz's desire to be the best will be a perfect fit with our corporate culture here at Advance Auto Parts, where the best part is our people."

"We are happy to have Cruz and Advance Auto Parts back into the funny car category beginning in 2002," said Tom Compton, president of the NHRA. "The funny car class is fast becoming one of the most exciting professional categories in NHRA Winston Drag Racing. I am confident Cruz and the Advance Auto Parts Funny Car team will bring yet another competitive dimension to the category."

"Cruz has been a valuable asset to the ESPN television team in 2001 and has done an excellent job on the broadcast and will be greatly missed. On the other hand, NHRA is extremely excited to welcome Cruz back to the track with a new sponsor to the funny car ranks, Advance Auto Parts. "

As one of the three sons of legendary "Flaming Frank" Pedregon, a Top Fuel drag racer in the 1960's, the need for speed is in his blood. In 2000, Cruz's 22nd national event win at Englishtown, New Jersey was especially gratifying as new owner and driver of his Pontiac Firebird Nitro Funny Car. This year Cruz has been providing valuable insight as the TV analyst for ESPN's NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

In addition, Cruz has a very large Hispanic fan base and through all his success, Cruz has never forgotten his strong family roots. Cruz takes special pride in serving as a role model and, in 1997, Cruz became the first motorsports figure to ever win the prestigious Premio de Oro (Golden Award), given to the country's outstanding Hispanic athlete.

Advance Auto Parts is the primary trade name for Advance Stores Company, Incorporated, a wholly owned subsidiary of Advance Holding Corporation. Advance ended the second quarter of 2001 with 1,765 stores in 38 states, primarily located in the eastern and mid-western regions of the United States and in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The company is based in Roanoke, Va., and is the second largest auto parts chain in the nation. Additional information about the company, employment opportunities, and services.

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