Columbus: Team Panella preview

Hebron, Ohio - - For most Americans, extremely hot and humid weather is unwelcome but easily avoidable with air-conditioning. When nature's thermostat starts to rise, air-conditioning provides relief with cooler cars, cooler buildings and cooler...

Hebron, Ohio - - For most Americans, extremely hot and humid weather is unwelcome but easily avoidable with air-conditioning. When nature's thermostat starts to rise, air-conditioning provides relief with cooler cars, cooler buildings and cooler homes. But as the NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing begin at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio, Bob Panella, driver of the Panella Trucking Chevy S-10 Pro Stock Truck, wants the weather hot. The hotter the better.

"For whatever reason our racing combination has always favored hot weather," said Panella, from Stockton, Calif. "We seem to do our best during the hot summer months. At the last race in Chicago, the weather was cool and wet and our performance suffered. Hopefully, the weather forecast for the Columbus will work to our favor and we can rebound this weekend."

Panella was runner up to Randy Daniels, from Grantsboro, N.C., at last year's race. The two-time and reigning Winston champion is currently second in the Winston point standings for Pro Stock Trucks, 25 points behind the leader. He hopes to add to that total this weekend as the weather forecast calls for temperatures pushing 90-degrees for most of the event.

Teammate Jeff Gracia is coming off a big win in Chicago, when 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.

"That win in the Duel, my first in Pro Stock Truck, was exciting," said Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., "but our excitement turned to disappointment when we gave it all back during Sunday's elimination. That was for the points. My GMC Sonoma was capable of winning the whole thing but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. Hopefully, we can have both trucks running well here at Columbus and be double trouble during the weekend. After that win in the Duel, I'm looking forward to my first victory for the points. Maybe that chance will come this weekend."

Professional qualifying for the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing begins tomorrow with two qualifying sessions. Two sessions of qualifying are also scheduled for Saturday, with final eliminations on Sunday.

-TP

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Jeff Gracia , Randy Daniels