Atlanta: Team Panella preview

Commerce, Ga. - - When you have won back-to-back NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck Championships, the questions is going to arise, and arise often, "Can you three-peat?" Bob Panella, Jr., from Stockton, Calif., the reigning and two-time champ, tries...

Commerce, Ga. - - When you have won back-to-back NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck Championships, the questions is going to arise, and arise often, "Can you three-peat?" Bob Panella, Jr., from Stockton, Calif., the reigning and two-time champ, tries to answer that question.

"The first thing that I've got to say is that with only four of 14 scheduled events for Pro Stock Trucks completed, it's still to early to say who's going to win the 2001 Winston championship. With that said, let me try to answer the question as best as I can at this point in time," said Panella, as he prepared for qualifying for the NHRA Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

"Everybody wants to judge us by last season when we held the point lead for 13 of the 14 races. But look back to 1999, we were third entering the Advance Auto Parts Nationals in Atlanta. We didn't take the lead until there were four races to go. Right now we are third and by no means out of this thing (point battle). We are only 63 points behind the leader.

"As things stand right now, both my teammate Jeff Gracia and I have a chance at the title. It no secret that both Greg Stanfield and Randy Daniels are running well and, unless something changes, should give Jeff and I a run all the way to the final event. There are also a number of other teams that have the potential to make a run at it. All they have to do is have some luck, then get hot and one of them could be knocking on the door. This Pro Stock Truck racing is so close that you never know what's going to happen from race to race," concluded Panella.

Gracia and Panella begin their run for the Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals title this afternoon with two qualifying sessions. Qualifying concludes on Saturday with two additional sessions. Final eliminations begin on Sunday at 11 a.m. (ET).

If you can't attend the Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals in person, be sure to catch all the action on television:

Saturday, May 5:  ESPN2  Qualifying Highlights   4:30-6:30 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, May 6: ESPN2  Final Round Action     5-7 p.m. (ET)

-TP

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Jeff Gracia , Greg Stanfield