Gainesville: Team Panella eliminations preview

Bob Panella Motorsports Panella Trucking Pro Stock Trucks NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Driver: BOB PANELLA, JR.-CHEVY S-10 Driver: JEFF GRACIA-GMC SONOMA 32nd ANNUAL MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS MARCH 15-18, 2000 - - RAIN DATE: APRIL 21, ...

Bob Panella Motorsports
Panella Trucking Pro Stock Trucks
NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series

Driver: BOB PANELLA, JR.-CHEVY S-10
Driver: JEFF GRACIA-GMC SONOMA

32nd ANNUAL MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS
MARCH 15-18, 2000 - - RAIN DATE: APRIL 21, 2000
GAINESVILLE RACEWAY - - GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA

Gainesville, Fla. - - The carnival of the senses -- the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series -- returns to Gainesville Raceway to finish the Mac Tools Gatornationals, an event that saw eliminations for Sunday, March 18, postponed due to persistent rains in the Northern Florida city of Gainesville.

With qualifying completed before the rains washed out eliminations, the 32nd annual Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals are scheduled to resume Friday, April 20, with only a test and tune session for all five professional classes and seven sportsman categories. Final eliminations will be contested on Saturday, April 21, beginning at 11 a.m. (EDT).

In Pro Stock Truck, both Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., and teammate Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., hope to maintain the momentum that they have established in the two national events that have been completed since the teams pulled up stakes due to the rains at Gainesville and headed to Houston and Las Vegas.

At the O'Reilly Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, Panella finished in the runner-up spot, while Gracia advanced to the semi-finals. Moving to the SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Panella won his first title of the 2001 season when he defeated Greg Stanfield, in the final round, for his second consecutive win at The Strip. Gracia once again advanced to the semi-final before bowing out to Stanfield.

The consistency that both Bob Panella Motorsports drivers maintained in Houston and Las Vegas, find the duo in third and fourth position in the NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck standings. Panella moved into third with 271 points, 41 points behind leader Randy Daniels. While Gracia is in fourth, only 47 points behind his teammate.

Panella, the reigning and two-time Winston Pro Stock Truck Champion, had this to say when asked about points at Las Vegas, "I don't want to think about points because right now winning another championship is just a dream. But if nothing else, we were able to get a little closer to Randy (Daniels) today and keep our title hopes alive. If we can continue to race like we did today, we'll be right there at the end."

Teammate Gracia is still looking for his first final round. In the three events that have been completed thus far in 2001, he has advanced to the semi-final in each one. " I know going to the semi-final for the first three races of the season is an accomplishment for both me and the whole Panella Trucking team, but I want to go to the finals and meet Bobby (Panella). Maybe next time will be my time," said Gracia.

-TP-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Jeff Gracia , Randy Daniels , Greg Stanfield