Commerce: Friday qualifying report

Pedregon Races To Fastest Funny Car Speed in NHRA History During Friday Qualifying at Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals COMMERCE, Ga. -- Tony Pedregon raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the 24th annual Summit...

Pedregon Races To Fastest Funny Car Speed in NHRA History During Friday Qualifying at Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals

COMMERCE, Ga. -- Tony Pedregon raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the 24th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac at Atlanta Dragway.

David Grubnic, Larry Morgan and Andrew Hines also were leaders in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the seventh of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Pedregon, the defending series champion in the 6,000 horsepower category, clocked the fastest Funny Car speed in NHRA history, powering his Quaker State Chevy Monte Carlo to a 329.83 mph pass in a track record time of 4.765 seconds.

"I'm impressed," Pedregon said. "This is our first race with the new Monte Carlo body and I really think this body is built for the way we run our car. We use a big power tune-up and the body really responded. The main thing I noticed was how quiet it was in there compared to the other bodies. I'm just so glad we're finally on equal footing with the other designs. We're not handicapped any more.

"It was one of those runs where everything went right. We stayed after Bristol and tested and I think that helped us a bunch. We haven't had a lot of runs this year where everything went right. But this time Dickie (Venables, crew chief) and the guys took advantage of some good conditions and Dickie did a great job reading the track, and we had a nice run."

In order to set the NHRA national speed record, Pedregon needs to post a speed within 1 percent of the record time as required by NHRA rules (326.53 mph).

Grubnic powered his Kalitta Air dragster to a track record time of 4.469 at 324.44 to lead Top Fuel qualifying. It was the fourth sub-4.5 second run for Grubnic, as well as a career-best.

"This is fantastic," Grubnic said. "I can't take any of the credit. That should all go to Connie (Kalitta, team owner) and the guys. I'm just the lucky guy that gets to drive the car down the racetrack. I really didn't know what to expect with the conditions, but knowing Conrad I expected we'd run about a 4.50. When I heard Jon O. (co-crew chief Jon Oberhoffer) say we'd run a 4.46 on the radio I couldn't believe it. It's fantastic for the entire Kalitta Air gang."

Morgan interrupted Greg Anderson's stronghold in Pro Stock by setting the pace with a track record time of 6.796 at 202.91 in his Team Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T.

"Our team couldn't be any happier right now," Morgan said. "This is almost as good as a win. All the guys at the shop and (my crew chief) Bob Glidden made this happen. Bob has really turned this program around. I'm really happy for him.

"Hopefully for Dodge and Summit we can stay on the pole tomorrow, but we'll need a little luck. It's gonna be good in the morning. There are a handful of guys out here who worry us, including Greg. We test so much and we gain a little each week it seems like."

Hines led Pro Stock Bike on his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson with a time of 7.162 at 184.32 mph.

"That's the smoothest run I've made all year," Hines said. "We've finally figured out how to get this bike off the starting line. That was our best 60-foot time ever. It's taken some trial and error, but I think we have the hot set-up for this bike. The two-bike thing is really working. We saw what GT (Tonglet, teammate) did in front of us and made an adjustment to the RPM. That helped the early numbers, for sure."

Qualifying continues Saturday at 11 a.m.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , David Grubnic , Bob Glidden , Andrew Hines