Panella puts S-10 in Winner's Circle COLUMBUS, Ohio June 18, 2001 - Chevy S-10 driver Bob Panella came into final eliminations of the 37th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing as the number one qualifier and in second...
Panella puts S-10 in Winner's Circle
COLUMBUS, Ohio June 18, 2001 - Chevy S-10 driver Bob Panella came into final eliminations of the 37th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing as the number one qualifier and in second place in the Pro Stock Truck standings. He will leave the Buckeye state with his third Pro Stock Truck victory of the season and the points lead after defeating Mark Whisnant in the final round of eliminations.
En route to the finals, Panella defeated Brian Self, John Coughlin, and Jeff Naiser, in that order. The two-time Winston champions' S-10 was fast all day running 7.520 seconds in the first session, 7.535 seconds in round two and 7.541 seconds in round three. In the title match, Whisnant's Chevy launched first, but Panella's S-10 ran him down with a 7.530 e.t. at 178.95 mph to a losing 7.624 second run at 177.25 mph.
"Whisnant was out there pretty far but we were able to reel him in," said Panella. "I knew that if I did a halfway decent job of driving, that yellow Chevy S-10 would carry me to the winner's circle. It played out well and we're fortunate that we got a great hot weather tune up. It's a 140-degree racetrack but our S-10 loves it. We're looking forward to some more hot weather races to try and build some momentum."
"Fortunately we were able to capitalize on Randy (Daniels) and Greg's (Stanfied) losses today, and that's hard to do sometimes. When you know you can make up some ground it puts added pressure on the whole team. You can't always do that but we were able to do that today. We have two of the four fastest trucks in the country right now, and it's a real tribute to my crew and everyone back at the shop that work so hard to keep us on top. These back-to-back races are tough."
Team Chevrolet driver Larry Dixon drove the Miller Lite Top Fuel dragster to the winner's circle for the second time this season. It was also the fourth time this year he had raced in a championship round.
Dixon had never won before at National Trail Raceway. His best finish here prior to this weekend was in 1996 when he was runner-up to Cory McClenathan. Today's victory moved the 34-year-old Dixon to within 41 points of first place Kenny Bernstein.
"The win alone was a big deal because we were able to pick up ground on Kenny (Bernstein)," said Dixon. "That helped us quite a bit. For me this was the one major national event that I had never won and it's really gratifying to finally win here. When Snake, LaHaie and McCulloch started racing, there were only five major events and Columbus was one of them. This is one of the events I always look forward to and it feels great to win it."
Dixon had a tough line up to face to get to the championship. He defeated Chris Karamesines in round one, Mike Dunn in round two, and Gary Scelzi in round three before facing Darrell Russell in the finals. Dixon's elapsed time of 4.700 seconds at 306.53 mph was enough to hold off Russell's 4.929 second run at 230.37 mph.
"This weekend, with the hot, slippery conditions, the key was to get your car down the racetrack, and we were able to do that on Saturday and Sunday," said Dixon. "I'm going to enjoy this win today and tomorrow, and then I'm going to start worrying about St. Louis. It's going to be every bit as hot and humid there as it was here, so this is kind of a primer event for everybody. This race was a big deal for us."
In Funny Car, the top performing Chevy Camaros were Tommy Johnson Jr., who qualified in the No. 3 position and advanced to round two before losing to Del Worsham, and Jim Epler who qualified in the No. 9 spot but lost in round one to Johnny Gray.
In the Sportsman categories Don Moyer of Pickerington, Ohio won in Super Street in a 67 Chevy Camaro.
The next stop on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing tour is the 5th annual Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois on June 21-24. <pre> Pro Stock Truck Race Winner: Bob Panella (Chevy S-10) 7.530ET/178.95MPH Pro Stock Truck Runner-Up: Mark Whisnant (Chevy S-10) 7.624ET/177.25MPH Chevy Pro Stock Truck semifinalist: Bob Panella, Jeff Naiser, Mark Whisnant Pro Stock Truck Top Qualifier: Bob Panella (Chevy S-10) 7.519ET/178.66MPH
Pro Stock Truck Top 10: 1. Bob Panella (Chevy S-10) 2. Greg Stanfield (Chevy S-10) 3. Randy Daniels (Chevy S-10) 4. Jeff Gracia (Sonoma) 5. Scott Perin (Chevy S-10) 6. Don Smith (Chevy S-10) 7. Todd Patterson (Dodge) 8. Jeff Naiser (Chevy S-10) 9. Victor Cagnazzi (Chevy S-10) 10. Mark Whisnant (Chevy S-10)
Pro Stock Race Winner: Warren Johnson (Grand Am) 6.948ET/198.00MPH Pro Stock Runner-Up: Mark Osborne (Dodge RT) 6.985ET/198.58MPH Chevy Pro Stock semifinalist: Jeg Coughlin Pro Stock Top Qualifier: George Marnell (Pontiac Grand Am) 6.935ET/198.03MPH
Pro Stock Top 10: 1. Warren Johnson (Grand Am) 2. Jim Yates (Grand Am) 3. Mark Pawuk (Grand Am) 4. Jeg Coughlin (Cavalier) 5. Mark Osborne (Dodge RT) 6. Mike Edwards 7. Kurt Johnson (Cavalier) 8. Ron Krisher (Cavalier) 9. Bruce Allen (Grand Am) 10. Richie Stevens (Firebird)
Funny Car Winner: John Force (Mustang) 4.963ET/308.00MPH Funny Car Runner-Up: Del Worsham (Pontiac Firebird) 6.204ET/160.79MPH Funny Car Top Qualifier: Dean Skuza (Dodge R/T) 4.885ET/305.08MPH
Funny Car Top 10: 1.John Force (Mustang) 2. Del Worsham (Firebird) 3. Ron Capps (Camaro) 4. Bruce Sarver (Firebird) 5. Whit Bazemore (Firebird) 6. Tony Pedregon (Mustang) 7. Frank Pedregon (Firebird) 8. Dean Skuza (Dodge) 9. Tommy Johnson Jr. (Camaro) 10. Gary Densham (Mustang)
Top Fuel Winner: Larry Dixon 4.700ET/306.53MPH Top Fuel Runner-Up: Darrell Russell 4.929ET/230.37MPH Chevy Top Fuel semifinalist: Larry Dixon Top Fuel Top Qualifier: Kenny Bernstein 4.659ET/316.82MPH
Top Fuel Top 10: 1. Kenny Bernstein 2. Larry Dixon 3. Mike Dunn 4. Doug Kalitta 5. Darrell Russell 6. Gary Scelzi 7. Tony Schumacher 8. Doug Herbert 9. David Grubnic 10. Rhonda-Hartman-Smith