Gainesville Team Panella final qualifying

Gainesville, Fla. - - Qualifying continued for the Mac Tools Gatornationals under mostly sunny skies. Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., upped his career best speed mark when he recorded a pass of 181.50 mph with an elapsed time of 7.442...

Gainesville, Fla. - - Qualifying continued for the Mac Tools Gatornationals under mostly sunny skies. Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., upped his career best speed mark when he recorded a pass of 181.50 mph with an elapsed time of 7.442 seconds in Saturday's first session . That run moved Panella into the second spot after three qualifying session.

With a final run down the Gainesville Raceway quarter-mile of 7.449 seconds at 181.54 mph, Panella nailed down the third position on the elimination ladder by virtue of today's earlier pass. Also, at the risk of sounding redundant, he once again upped his career best speed, albeit just slightly. The new standard is 181.54 mph.

In tomorrow's eliminations, Panella will face Vinny Barone, from Huntington Station, N.Y. Barone finished in the 14th position with a pass of 7.501 seconds at 179.71 mph. The two have never met in Pro Stock Truck competition.

"We improved on our times of yesterday. I think the driver left a little out there on the track and hopefully, it can be picked up when competition begins tomorrow. We were consistent but still need to get a little quicker so that we can be a factor in each round tomorrow, said Panella. "We still have our sights set on the event title. But to get there, we must get by some tough competition."

Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., ran a career best elapsed time and speed in Saturday first session of qualifying with a pass of 7.456 seconds at 179.92 mph. That pass surpassed his previous marks of 7.470 seconds, set at Memphis last October, and 179.35 mph, set at the last race in Pomona, Calif. Gracia moved his GMC Sonoma into fourth as the third qualifying session ended.

The final pass of 7.520 seconds at 179.00 mph was of no additional help to Gracia and he remained in the fourth qualified position. His opponent in the opening round of eliminations tomorrow is Jeff Naiser, from Houston, Texas, who qualified 13th on the strength of a 7.496 second pass at 179.97 mph.

"We were disappointed in that final pass but now we will turn all our attention to Jeff Naiser and eliminations. I am on the opposite side of the ladder from (teammate) Bob (Panella). Hopefully, that will work to our advantage as eliminations play out tomorrow," said Gracia.

-Team Manella

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Jeff Gracia