Topeka: Team Panella qualifying

Topeka, Kan. - - With qualifying now completed for this year's edition of the Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., and teammate Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., qualified first and sixth, ...

Topeka, Kan. - - With qualifying now completed for this year's edition of the Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., and teammate Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., qualified first and sixth, respectively.

With an elapsed time of 7.495 seconds, Panella collected his third consecutive number one qualifying position at the Topeka event. It is his 16th career number one and third of the 2001 season (Houston, Atlanta, and Topeka). Gracia finished sixth by virtue of a pass of 7.495 seconds, recorded in Friday's opening session.

"We made four pretty good runs. I think we adjusted real well to the hot track which is probably what we'll see for tomorrow. That's all I wanted to do today. You weren't going to go out there and improve on your qualifying time this afternoon. The main thing is to be consistent. We were the fastest truck of that last round, as far as I know, and that's what's important. Now tomorrow if we can be fastest it will take a little weight off my shoulders. I don't know if it will be good enough but I'll try to do my job driving and hopefully we can go to the winner's circle in Topeka again," said Panella, the reigning and two-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck Champion.

Panella will face Brian Self, from Spring, Texas, when eliminations begin at 11: 30 (ET) tomorrow. Self qualified 16th with a qualifying time and speed of 7.544 seconds at 178.87 mph. Gracia will be matched against the number 11 qualifier John Coughlin, from Columbus, Ohio. In earning the number 11 spot Coughlin recorded numbers of 7.526 seconds at 179.18 mph.

Both Panella and Gracia have qualified for next weekend's Holley Pro Stock Truck Dominator Duel, a special event held in conjunction with the Lucas Oil Products Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., just outside Chicago. The Duel will match the eight drivers who have accumulated the most points during the Duel series - - from last year's Prestone Route 66 Nationals (Chicago) through today's Advance Auto Parts Nationals (Topeka, Kan.).

As a result of his qualifying first and finishing four positions in front of Randy Daniels, from Grantsboro, N.C., here at Topeka, Panella qualified in the number one spot for this year's Duel. Teammate Gracia, qualified for his first Duel, and will enter the special race-within-a-race seeded fourth.

The Holly Dominator Duel will take place next Saturday, June 2.

-Team Panella

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeff Gracia , Randy Daniels , Brian Self