Tony Pedregon Powers Quaker State Chevrolet Monte Carlo To Fastest and Quickest Funny Car Pass In History Joliet, Ill., May 21, 2004 - Defending Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon made history today during the first day of qualifying at ...
Tony Pedregon Powers Quaker State Chevrolet Monte Carlo To Fastest and Quickest Funny Car Pass In History
Joliet, Ill., May 21, 2004 - Defending Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon made history today during the first day of qualifying at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. Pedregon blasted the Quaker State Chevrolet Monte Carlo, tuned by Dickie Venables to the quickest and fastest pass in NHRA Funny Car history of 4.716 seconds at 331.28 mph.
In what started as a warm, humid afternoon quickly turned in to a 15 degree temperature drop and lower humidity right before the second qualifying session after a cold front swept over the race track - history was about to be made. After an hour-long delay due to threatening weather, fellow Funny Car racer Gary Scelzi was first to run over the 330-mark at 330.15 mph but Pedregon was next in line and made a little history of his own.
"That was awesome," said an emotional Pedregon. "We knew that if the conditions were right this session would be the one to make it happen. I knew at about half-track that it was going to do something. At the end of the track the parachutes didn't come out right away and I was thinking 'great now I'm going to hit the sand trap.' But they did eventually come out and I couldn't believe what had just happened.
"Scelzi ran right in front of me and I was a little bummed to see him break the barrier first but I'm very happy for him," said Pedregon. "It would've been nice for us to be the first but I think we responded nicely. To be able to perform like this with such a great sponsor like Quaker State that believed in us is amazing. We've got a great team led by the experience that Dickie and Kurt (Elliott) bring. They made a great call and our car responded. The whole crew is hard working and they pay very close attention to detail. I couldn't ask for a better team. You can have all the best parts in the world but it starts with good people."
Crew chief Dickie Venables has been in this sport for over 20 years. Pedregon gave him the opportunity to tune the Quaker State Funny Car this season.
"The weather changed drastically and the humidity went way down," said Venables. "We don't get these opportunities very often and you have to take advantage of it and we did. After Scelzi's run I made one final adjustment to make it more aggressive. We had already jumped all over it and I almost didn't make the change but thought what the heck, and took the shot and we did it."
This is the second race for the Quaker State team to run the new Chevrolet Monte Carlo body. Pedregon earned the pole in Atlanta running what was then the fastest speed in history of 329.83 mph.
"GM has done a great job at bringing us to the same playing level field as the rest of cars with this new body," said Pedregon. "They really helped us do our jobs better. I can't say enough about their technology and support."
The final two qualifying sessions are scheduled for Saturday, May 22nd at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Final Eliminations will be held on Sunday, May 23rd at 11:00 a.m.
Qualifying coverage of the NHRA Route 66 Nationals can be seen on Saturday, May 22nd on ESPN2 from 10:00 p.m. - Midnight (ET) Final eliminations can be seen on May 23rd on ESPN2 from 7:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m. (ET)