BOB PANELLA: QUALIFYING SESSION (FRIDAY ...
QUALIFYING SESSION (FRIDAY #1): 7.664 SECONDS @ 177.35 MPH (#3)
QUALIFYING SESSION (FRIDAY #2): 7.597 SECONDS @ 178.28 MPH (#4)
QUALIFYING SESSION (SATURDAY #1): 7.519* SECONDS @ 178.66 MPH (#1)
QUALIFYING SESSION (SATURDAY #2): 7.621 SECONDS @ 179.61* MPH (#1)
* TRACK RECORD
QUALIFYING SESSION (FRIDAY #1): 7.730 SECONDS @ 176.37 MPH (#15)
QUALIFYING SESSION (FRIDAY #2): 7.693 SECONDS @ 178.64 MPH (#19)
QUALIFYING SESSION (SATURDAY #1): 7.541 SECONDS @ 178.38 MPH (#3)
QUALIFYING SESSION (SATURDAY #2): 7.606 SECONDS @ 178.92 MPH (#3)
Panella takes fourth #1 qualifying position of 2001 - - Gracia third
Hebron, Ohio - - Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., drove his Chevy S-10 to his 17th career number one qualifying position and fourth of 2001 at the NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing. His pass of 7.519 seconds in Saturday’s first qualifying session of Pro Stock Truck set a National Trail Raceway track record for elapsed time. Additionally, Panella recorded a speed of 179.61 mph in Saturday’s second qualifying session to re-establish the track speed record.
Panella, currently second in the Winston point standings, was 25 points behind the leader Greg Stanfield, from Bossier City, La., entering this event. By qualifying number one, Panella picked up the eight qualify points that go to the top qualifier. Stanfield, who qualified 13th, only picked up one point and now leads Panella by 18 points entering tomorrow’s eliminations.
“When you consider that there is three of us separated by basically a round (of racing) any little five points here and five points there can make a lot difference come November,” said Panella. “I hope I can gain a comfortable lead by then if it at all possible but hey we’ll take whatever we can get and try to be as strong as we can come raceday tomorrow.”
Panella will face Brian Self, from Spring, Texas in the opening round of eliminations. Self qualified his Chevy S-10 in the 16th and final spot on the grid with a pass of 7.587 seconds at 177.04 mph.
“I personally like this hot weather. It’s not fun to sweat in there. Our (Chevy) S-10 seems to like hot race tracks and (the heat) brings out the best in me and the whole crew,” added Panella, as today’s temperature soared into the high 80’s.
Teammate Jeff Gracia is coming off a big win in Chicago two weekends ago, where he took home top honors at the Holley Dominator Duel, a special, non-point earning event held in connection with the Lucas Oil Products Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. The win for Gracia’s GMC Sonoma during the Holley Dominator Duel was the first drag racing win for the Sonoma.
Entering today’s qualifying, Gracia was not qualified. The Ontario, Calif., driver quickly changed that potential problem by recording a pass of 7.541 seconds at 178.38 mph, good for third.
“We tried some new things with Jeff’s truck on Friday. We quickly found out that they didn’t work and reset the truck to it qualifying configuration for the two passes on Saturday,” said Panella. “I’m happy with the track. It’s fortunate that it’s a two lane race track. If you can stay in the good lane it doesn’t really matter We’re going to do our best to do that and try to put both of the Panella trucks in the final again.”