St Louis Pro Stock Truck Preview

PANELLA HOPES TO UTILIZE SUMMER COMBINATION FOR MORE VICTORIES MADISON, Ill. -- The hottest NHRA Pro Stock Truck driver admits he tends to be at his best when the weather is hot and humid. After Bob Panella's recent dominating performance...

PANELLA HOPES TO UTILIZE SUMMER COMBINATION FOR MORE VICTORIES MADISON, Ill. -- The hottest NHRA Pro Stock Truck driver admits he tends to be at his best when the weather is hot and humid. After Bob Panella's recent dominating performance in Chicago, his competitors can only hope that a cold front moves into the St. Louis area when the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series makes its annual stop there. Based on the event's past history, that's not likely. Panella, from Stockton, Calif., will be tuning his truck for another victory at the third annual Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 24-26, at Gateway International Raceway. The $1.6 million race, which will be contested exclusively under the lights, is the 9th of 14 events for Pro Stock Trucks in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. "For some reason we've got a good combination for hot weather," said Panella, 27. "We've got at least two more races in what should be hot and humid conditions and I'm looking forward to 'em. Hopfeully we can win a few more victories and get in position to win the championship." A Winston championship may be a possibility if Panella finishes the season in the same fashion that he won the FRAM Route 66 Nationals and Holley Pro Stock Dominator Duel three weeks ago. He dominated the two races and also claimed the No. 1 qualifying position to pocket a cool $41,500 for the weekend, the largest single weekend Pro Stock Truck payday in NHRA history. "That weekend was a dream come true," said Panella, who earned his first Pro Stock Truck victory in 1998, during similar hot and sticky conditions at Memphis' Pennzoil Nationals. "It was amazing, everything just fell into place for us. The truck ran great and we had a great combination for the track." He hopes to use the same combination at Gateway International Raceway to defeat top contenders like Winston points leader Mark Osborne, Brad Jeter and two-time winner Randy Daniels, among others. "It's starting to look like it's going to be an old fashioned battle for the Winston championship," Panella said. "I don't even want to think about it. It's going to be a toss up between a handful of drivers. It should be exciting to watch, that's for sure." Panella will have a bird's eye view from the driver's seat in his Panella Trucking Chevrolet S-10, currently one of the best rides in competition. He likes his chances, but says it's going to be a shootout. "You've got to make consistent runs, that's the key," Panella said. "That's how we won at Chicago. That's what it takes to win out here. And you can't take any of your competitors for granted -- they're all tough. There's no easy races in this category anymore. They may look easy, but they're not." And what's Panella doing with his big payday from Chicago? "I'd say our engine program has already taken care of that money," Panella said. "Money is obviously what makes these things run. Points are the main thing, but money makes it all go." SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS GENERAL INFORMATION * Schedule: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. (CT) on June 24 and June 25. Final professional eliminations start at 4 p.m. June 26. Qualifying and eliminations for Federal-Mogul categories begins June 24 at 9 a.m. * Tickets: Tickets are available for the Sears Craftsman Nationals. Call (618) 482-2400 or Ticketmaster for ticket information. * On TV: ABC will televise one hour of race highlights on July 4 at 1 p.m. (ET).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Brad Jeter , Randy Daniels