Atlanta: Team Panella Friday qualifying notes

Commerce, Ga. - - In the immortal words of Lawrence Welk, "A one and a two..." That's how Team Panella ended day one of qualifying - - first and second on the qualifying ladder - - for the NHRA Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals. In their ...

Commerce, Ga. - - In the immortal words of Lawrence Welk, "A one and a two..." That's how Team Panella ended day one of qualifying - - first and second on the qualifying ladder - - for the NHRA Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals.

In their second qualifying pass, Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., and Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., lined up side-by-side. The duo blazed the Atlanta Dragway quarter-mile with Panella's Chevy S-10 grabbing the top spot by recording a track record elapsed time of 7.471 seconds at a track record speed of 180.69 mph. Gracia, in a GMC Sonoma, was a blink of the eye behind with a pass of 7.499 seconds at 180.43 mph, good for second.

Said Panella, "It feels good to struggle like we did and to come back and rebound the way we did. We had some stuff go wrong in Gainesville and we went and tested both of the trucks and we learned a little bit. We had a miss that was hurting us in Gainesville and we didn't know if we totally got it fixed, obviously that run we did. We made a great run tonight. Now we know where we're at and we're going to keep trying to go faster. We're looking forward to in the morning to see if we can go a little faster.

"I think the morning's going to be pretty good. It's going to be our best chance to either stay on top or lose the top. We're really happy with that run. We can only hope that we can go out and do it again in the morning and even run a little better. Hopefully no one will find too much between now and then. We want to stay on top - - one and two. That's what we've been looking for.

It sent goose bumps down my legs when I heard we were one and two. You work so hard to get to that point. The trucks are set up about as identical as two trucks can be, but they were in different lanes and different drivers and that is the variables. Hopefully we can put one of them in the winner's circle on Sunday."

Gracia added, "The motors are pretty close. We finally made two good runs next to each other. We made a lot of changes after that first run and it paid off. We hope to repeat the same run tomorrow a couple of more times. We've got a good base line for tomorrow and we're going to just make minor adjustments to adjust to the weather and hopefully we'll improve."

Qualifying concludes on Saturday with two additional sessions. Final eliminations begin on Sunday at 11 a.m. (ET).

-TP

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Jeff Gracia