JOLIET, Ill. ? Gary Scelzi made the first Funny Car pass in NHRA history over 330-mph seconds before defending Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon made the quickest and fastest pass in history Friday at the seventh annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. David Grubnic, Greg Anderson and GT Tonglet led their respective categories after the first day of qualifying at the $1.8 million race, the eighth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Scelzi's historic run came in the Hemi-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T as the Fresno, Calif., resident hit 330.15 mph moments before the defending champion stole the spotlight. "The car was actually going a little slower in the first half of the track than we normally run," said Scelzi, who earned three Top Fuel championships before switching to Funny Car in 2002. "I think we could have run 332 or 333. You know, it was stunning to make the run, but with Tony doing what he did, I didn?t have much time to let it sink in." Pedregon earned the provisional top spot with his record-setting pass in the Quaker State Chevy Monte Carlo, which blasted down the quarter-mile in 4.716 seconds at 331.28 to lead all Funny Car competitors. Pedregon, who has two top qualifying positions this season and is seeking the 28th of his career, was emotional following the run. "A little of the thunder was lost with Gary accomplishing the feat first," Pedreon said. "It would have been nice to be the first one to do it, but that is all hindsight and overall it was an awesome run and all the credit has to go to my team. "(Crew chief) Dickie (Venables) and the guys have been around the NHRA for some time, and whatever the call was they made after seeing Scelzi run, well it was the right one. I am happy to have made this pass at Route 66. We know we have been able to run in the 70s here before, and now with this new racing surface, we knew we could make this kind of run with the right conditions." Pedregon, who left Force Racing prior to the 2004 campaign, ran into the legendary John Force following the record run. "I saw John outside and he gave me a hug," Pedregon said. "That just shows what kind of man he is. After all those years, you don?t forget those memories or those kinds of friendships." Pedregon and Scelzi will need to run within the required one percent of their respective performance numbers to establish a national record. Grubnic covered the quarter-mile in 4.557 at 324.28 in the Kalitta Air dragster to pace the 16-car field heading into the final day of qualifying. Anderson, the defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion and No. 1 qualifier at six of seven events this season, drove his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to the top of the Pro Stock order with a time of 6.819 at 201.55. Tonglet covered the distance on the Screamin? Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson in 7.234 at 184.35 to lead the Pro Stock Bike category. Qualifying continues Saturday at noon.
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