BOB PANELLA JR., PANELLA TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, clinched his second consecutive Winston Championship in Pro Stock Truck today after defeating SCOTT PERIN'S CHEVY S-10 in the first round. Panella went on to eliminate Rick Jones in the second round,...
BOB PANELLA JR., PANELLA TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, clinched his second consecutive Winston Championship in Pro Stock Truck today after defeating SCOTT PERIN'S CHEVY S-10 in the first round. Panella went on to eliminate Rick Jones in the second round, then was denied the opportunity to top off the weekend with a sixth season victory when he met STEVE JOHNS, CASTROL SUPER CLEAN CHEVY S-10, in the semifinal.
Instead of another Panella vs. Daniels final round, it was a Johns vs. Daniels face-off, as Johns eliminated the newly-crowned Winston Champion in the semis (8.335/122.21 for Panella in the right lane; 7.597/177.77 for Johns), then found himself head-to-head with another five-time season winner in Daniels.
Daniels, enjoying a weekend with his dad and crew chief Garley back in full swing after a number of trips to the hospital to successfully treat a case of heart arrhythmia, was relegated to the less-desirable right lane in the final, which cost him his bid for a sixth season victory. Johns, quickest in every round to defeat MARK WHISNANT (Chevy S-10), TERRY LASTOR (Chevy S-10) and Panella, matched his performance (7.536, 7.549, 7.597) with another outstanding run of 7.566 seconds at 178.05 mph, which easily outpaced Daniels' 8.054/136.40, earning him his first win of the season, and the second of his Pro Stock Truck career.
Daniels is also assured of second place in the championship, as third-place John Coughlin is an insurmountable 294 points behind in third, with one race remaining.
Daniels had two quick laps en route to the final round (7.554 against Dave Spitzer; 7.552 to beat John Lingenfelter). However, in the semis he won the round against MIKE COUGHLIN, JEG'S MAIL ORDER CHEVY S-10, but lost lane choice for the final with a 7.612-second lap.
* PANELLA: WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT DANIELS FOR THE CROWN? "Oh, sure, especially with the weather conditions the way they were. Fortunately the qualifying scenario (qualifying was set on point standings after qualifying was rained out on Friday) probably helped us. We did what we had to do. I would have liked to have won the race, but I'll take the championship over the race any day."
WHEN DID YOU STOP WORRYING ABOUT RANDY? "Today, when they came and gave me the check."
WAS THE SECOND CHAMPIONSHIP HARDER? "Points-wise this was definitely harder. It's more important to me because I had something to prove to my crew. Last year's crew got hired away from me. People thought we were struggling. I personally had something to prove. Then I brought (crew chief) Mike Stryker along. He definitely knows how to win championships, that's for sure, having worked with Warren Johnson. It was harder for that reason, because we had our work cut out for us and had somewhat of a new team at the race track. They kept that Chevy S-10 flying all year long. I made the least amount of mistakes as I could, and they also did. And that's what wins championships."
WHY DID MIKE STRYKER LEAVE WARREN JOHNSON? "He was working with Warren Johnson and didn't want to race a 22-23 race schedule anymore. He mentioned something to my dad that he was thinking of cutting back. They've been friends for 15 years."
* JOHNS: "We had the left lane every run. No one else here can say that, except the person who won (in the other classes), most likely."
TALK ABOUT THE RUN: "I didn't see him. You aren't supposed to see anything but the finish line. I wasn't really looking. With the marginal conditions you better not be looking around. On a real good track it happens nonchalantly. If it's questionable, you better be attentive."
ON LANE CHOICE: "With lane choice in my favor, I didn't fear anyone they were going to throw over in that lane. I owe both of these guys anyway (Panella and Daniels). Let's face it, it's been Daniels and Panella who have led the class."
WAS ANY ONE ROUND TOUGHER THAN ANOTHER? "The first one. You didn't know what to expect. Luckily, we hit it really close with the setup in the first run, so we were not chasing anything; we were just kind of maintaining."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN THAT FIRST ROUND? "That we were that fast with these conditions and hit the setup real close. It may have been something accidental that worked here."
* DANIELS: "It's aggravating, but what can you do about it? We knew we had lost this race in the semifinals by losing lane choice. It's real hard to get to the final. It's unfortunate that we had to lose it because of the bad lane. We just made a horrible run in the semifinals. I was in the left lane in the semis, but I got loose in that lane pretty bad; I probably should have shut it off on that run. The main thing is that we still have all the paint on the Chevy S-10 and Dad is back racing with us this weekend. We have the whole team back together and we are back in winning fashion. We're having fun again."
ON THE RIGHT LANE: "The right lane was just too slick; you couldn't get down it. I softened the clutch up, I tried everything I could do to soften it. In high gear I saw Steve was creeping up on me. I had my hands full driving the truck. It was a good time to shut it off and keep all the paint on it for one more weekend."
DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A CHANCE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I really didn't. That was totally out of my mind this weekend. We just wanted to win the race. It would be nice to have a couple of more of these 'Wallies' on the mantelpiece before the year is out."
ON HAVING GARLEY BACK: "It's just a big relief to not worry about what he's doing at home. We were able to come here and concentrate on racing again."