PANELLA NEARS DREAM OF NHRA WINSTON PRO STOCK TRUCK CHAMPIONSHIP ENNIS, Texas - Bob Panella's life-long dream is starting to come into focus as the 14-race NHRA Pro Stock Truck season winds to a finish. He hopes to make it a reality. Panella,...
PANELLA NEARS DREAM OF NHRA WINSTON PRO STOCK TRUCK CHAMPIONSHIP ENNIS, Texas - Bob Panella's life-long dream is starting to come into focus as the 14-race NHRA Pro Stock Truck season winds to a finish.
He hopes to make it a reality.
Panella, the gritty-tough driver from Stockton, Calif., overtook season-long category points leader Mark Osborne with a convincing victory at the recent NHRA national event at Heartland Park Topeka, solidifying his candidacy for the 1999 NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck championship.
Panella has earned three victories this season inside the cockpit of his Panella Trucking Chevrolet S-10 entry. Following the event at Topeka, he moved into the front of the standings for the first time in his two-year truck career and holds a 46 point lead over fellow S-10 driver Osborne.
Panella hopes to keep the momentum going and increase his series lead at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, Oct. 21-24 at the Texas Motorplex, near Dallas. The $1.8 million race is the 20th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
"I have never been in this position before with the championship," said Panella, a former NHRA sportsman category competitor. "Everyone in the shop has worked so hard just to gain an advantage. It's a pretty awesome field of trucks out here right now. I'm real happy with the whole operation."
With challengers like Osborne, Brad Jeter, Mike Coughlin, and Randy Daniels nipping at his heels, Panella knows the chase for the coveted championship trophy will be a tough one. However, he has full confidence in his teammates, led by crew chief Rick Watters.
"That's how we won at Topeka," said Panella, who has won each event where he's qualified No. 1 . "We had the horsepower, and it paid off. The guys at the shop really worked hard to put us in position to get the win. Maybe we can gain some momentum from that performance that will carry over for the rest of the season. I hope we can continue to qualify No. 1 and win. Running like that leads to good things."