Bob Panella Jr. is Sixth Different Pro Stock Truck Winner; Claims Chevy S-10's Seventh Title of Season Chevy S-10 Drivers Take Top Five in Points MEMPHIS, Tenn.; Sat., Oct. 10, 1998 -- It was a weekend of broken records and broken ...
Bob Panella Jr. is Sixth Different Pro Stock Truck Winner; Claims Chevy S-10's Seventh Title of Season
Chevy S-10 Drivers Take Top Five in Points
MEMPHIS, Tenn.; Sat., Oct. 10, 1998 -- It was a weekend of broken records and broken hearts at Memphis Motorsports Park today, as the Chevy S-10s continued to shine and the championship points chase tightened up dramatically in NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series' new category, Pro Stock Truck. Bob Panella Jr. became the sixth different title winner in 10 of 12 races, collecting Chevy S-10's seventh victory of the 1999 season, while points leader Larry Kopp red-lighted in the first round to close up the points gap to only 10 over John Lingenfelter. No. 3 qualifier Panella, 27, of Stockton, Calif., in his second final round appearance of the year, defeated No. 1 qualifier Brad Jeter, 23, of Greenville, S.C., in the Brad Jeter Motorsports Chevy S-10, by three thousandths of a second, one of the closest finishes this season, despite recording a slower reaction time (.488 to Jeter's .439). Panella's 7.654-second pass at 174.73 mph in his Panella Trucking Chevy S-10 was just the last of a string of strong runs in final eliminations. In the first round he defeated Mark Ingersoll with a 7.620/176.12, then he bounced out St. Louis winner Tim Freeman with a 7.679/175.00, and in the semifinals he eliminated Randy Daniels with a 7.647/175.55. "It's indescribable," said Panella, whose Panella Motorsports team builds its own engines. "We had a good day, made real consistent runs, had some close races, which is the way it's supposed to be. Brad has always been a great driver, luckily I got lane choice. I knew he would do the job at the starting line, so I knew whoever got lane choice would win the race. I was lucky to be there." "We knew all day that there was a difference between the lanes; that was just something we had to face," said Jeter, No. 1 qualifier for two straight events. "A race like this, with a three thousandths of a second margin of victory, that's a drag race, and I don't mind losing a good drag race like that." John Lingenfelter, in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevy S-10, carved Larry Kopp's championship points lead by advancing to the semifinals, where he lost to Jeter. Kopp, in the Accurate Binding/Arma Coatings/G-Force Transmissions Chevy S-10, No. 2 qualifier behind Jeter, whose S-10 was also powered by a new, as of this weekend, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins-built 358 cu. in. Chevy V8 engine, red-lighted in the first round against John Lukovich. Kopp's points lead, which has been as high as 144 points this season, took the biggest hit in the last two events: Topeka, where he failed to quallify, and here. "It's a very costly mistake," said Kopp, 51, of Baltimore, winner of four titles in '99. "I had a faster truck, a better truck and a quicker truck and I am a better driver than that. Somewhere along the line I have to turn this around so it's back in my favor again. It's just devastating." National records fell like Autumn leaves this weekend. Initially, Jeter tied Kopp's elapsed time record of 7.635 seconds in qualifying. Then, in the first time in NHRA history, the national e.t. record was shattered three times in the first round of eliminations. Panella's record-breaking 7.620-second pass was eclipsed by Kopp's 7.617 (when he red-lighted), and finally it was Jeter who earned those 20 bonus points with his 7.601-second pass against Roy Hill. "This Chevy S-10 has a 7.50-second pass in it, I just know it," said Jeter. "We'll see what we can do next time." Jerry Haas' national speed record of 176.70 mph remained intact. Haas, No. 4 qualifier in his Chevy Trucks Chevy S-10, also red-lighted in the first round. In the championship points battle, Chevy S-10 drivers occupy positions one through five: Kopp (784), Lingenfelter (774), Haas (595), Panella (578) and Jeter (555). Next event on the Pro Stock Truck schedule is the Revell Nationals in Dallas Oct. 22-25.