: The Atlanta event certainly had its share of omens.

CP: You can read between the lines. We are pushing the edge. That's what we do. Nature will take its course. And I'll just leave it at that.

: That's a curious sentiment from the guy who at the most recent race registered the quickest elapsed time in Funny Car history, at 1,000 feet anyway. You want those records, and you want that distinction. It's hard to be Cruz Pedregon and Juan Mota all at the same time. 

CP: I hate to keep bringing up football, but there's so much to compare. They say the tackling and the head injuries are something that we need to work on, but the [player], his job requires him to make the best tackle or make the biggest hit. Well, that guy's not going to have a job [if he worries about possible injury]. My job, for me to keep my sponsors and to keep who I want to be as a racer, I have to push the envelope. And I will continue to push the envelope, because the day that I make the decision to race within a box and say, 'Well, I'm not going to do anything but just exist because I don’t have any other way out, any other way to make a living,' that's the day I'm not going to be very good at what I do and I'm probably going to move on.

I believe in racing with no holds barred. I throw caution to the wind. That's my style. Damn the torpedoes, meaning – I think that expression means to heck with what happens afterwards – I have to do what I have to do. That's my philosophy, but at the same time, I do see that the people who make the decisions above me – in this case that would be the NHRA . . . I can't just be critical and say, 'Hey, they're blind and not paying attention.' I do think the NHRA is trying. Is it as effective and going as fast as we'd like it to be? No, but the Tech Department has made strides in that area.

Now, the question is where do we go from here? I do not know that, but I will say they have changed their strategy as far as going, 'Oh, you guys are completely on your own.' They're in there, trying . . . I don’t want to make it sound like, 'Oh, the NHRA is not doing anything.' That's not true. They are. Whether they're doing it at the proper speed and all that kind of business, that's to be determined.

: With Jim Head's retirement as a driver/tuner, you are the last of that breed in the nitro ranks. How do you feel about that, and would you ever put another driver in your car and be solely the crew chief?

CP: The finances will dictate that. I'm not going to get out of the seat anytime soon, unless it makes financial sense to me. I without a doubt have the burning desire to win a [third] championship on my own as a crew chief. That's my goal I have, and whether it takes me five years to do it or one year, whatever, that's one of my main goals. I'm a driver at heart, man. I do what I do, but at the end of the day, I'm a driver. That's the bottom line.

Having said that, I take it one to two years at a time. But I'm going to have a multiyear extension with Snap-on. The announcement's going to be made here in the next week or two. Whatever comes first – if I win that championship as a tuner/driver or I get burned out – because I do work hard and I'm physically whipped at the end of the weekend – I can't sit here and say I'm going to be as enthusiastic and be as sharp and ready to be effective and do what I want to do in years to come. But if it would financially benefit me to put another driver in there, absolutely I would do that.