Commerce, Ga. - - At the NHRA Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., won his 11th career Pro Stock Truck victory in 20 final rounds, by turning back teammate Jeff Gracia, from Ontario,...
Commerce, Ga. - - At the NHRA Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., won his 11th career Pro Stock Truck victory in 20 final rounds, by turning back teammate Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., in the final round. The duo had qualified one-two and by virtue of being on the opposite side of the elimination ladder earned their way to the final round face-off.
En route to the final round, Panella drove his Chevy S-10 to wins over John Coughlin, Jeff Naiser, and Taylor Lastor. Gracia, who had the highest qualifying position of his Pro Stock Truck career, bested Bart Price, Randy Daniels, who led the Winston point standings entering the event, and Greg Stanfield, who was second in points when the event began.
The final round was over at the start as Gracia's GMC Sonoma left to soon, giving the victory to his teammate. Panella has now won 103 rounds of competition, against 34 losses, since turning professional in 1998. He is the reigning NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck champion having won back-to-back championships in 1999 and 2000.
"I wish we could have put on a better show for the fans during the final round. It was a great weekend with Jeff and I qualifying one-two, then pairing off in the finals," said Panella immediately following his victory.
In post-race interviews Panella added the following, "I hope this won't be the last time these two yellow trucks are in the finals together. Jeff (Gracia) did an outstanding job driving this weekend. I wanted Team Panella to get the first win for GMC but I didn't want him to win at my expense. He did help me make up ground in the (NHRA Winston) points. He also gained a few points and should be proud of his performance this weekend."
Enter this event, the fifth of 14 races on the NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck Drag Racing Series schedule, Panella was in third place, 63 points behind Randy Daniels. Heading into the next event, the Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.), Panella is second, 14 points behind Greg Stanfield, who took over the point lead. Gracia remained in fourth.