Gateway: Team Panella preview

Bob Panella Motorsports Panella Trucking Pro Stock Truck NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Driver: Bob Panella, Jr.-Chevy S-10 Driver: Jeff Gracia-GMC Sonoma 5th Annual Sears Craftsman Nationals Gateway International Raceway - - Madison,...

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

Driver: Bob Panella, Jr.-Chevy S-10
Driver: Jeff Gracia-GMC Sonoma

5th Annual Sears Craftsman Nationals
Gateway International Raceway - - Madison, Ill.
June 21-24, 2001

Panella and Gracia poised for run at Sears Craftsman Nationals title

Madison, Ill. - - Bob Panella drove his Panella Trucking Chevy S-10 Pro Stock Truck to his 4th number one qualifying position and third win of the 2001 season at the NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing last weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Panella hopes to add to those numbers at this weekend's NHRA Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., just across the river from St. Louis.

After the smoke cleared on the Columbus event, Panella assumed the Winston point lead, the first time this season that the Stockton, Calif., driver has been at the top of the point standings. Entering the Sears Craftsman Nationals, Panella has amassed some incredible statistics:

* He has won back-to-back Winston championship in 1999 and 2000. In 2000, he led the Winston Pro Stock Truck standings following 13 of the 14 events on the truck schedule.

* He has qualified at every event (48) that Pro Stock Trucks have contested since becoming an NHRA professional class in 1998. He is the only Pro Stock Truck drivers to have qualified at all 48 events.

* He has 17 career number one qualifying positions and has qualified in the top half of the field in 43 of the 48 events.

* He has won 110 rounds of racing, losing only 36 times, a winning percentage of 75.3 percent.

* He has been in 21 of the 48 final rounds - - 43.8 percent - - winning 12, a winning percentage of 57.1 percent. In only three-plus years of professional racing, his 12 career victories places him tied for 33rd among the leaders in NHRA national event victories in the professional categories.

* He holds the NHRA nationals speed record at 182. 40 mph, which he set at Houston Raceway Park in March of this year. He currently has three of the top five speeds in the NHRA record book.

* He has three of the five quickest passes recorded over the quarter-mile for Pro Stock Trucks and hold the Gateway International Raceway track elapsed time (ET) record with a pass of 7.548 seconds, record at last year's event.

"For whatever the reason, the hot weather brings out the best in my Panella Trucking Chevy S-10. No, it's not fun to sweat inside the truck but the end results are well worth bearing with the elevated temperature if it pays off in a win," said Panella. "We'll be looking for the winner's circle once again this weekend at the Sears Craftsman Nationals."

In the two short years (2000 and 2001) that Panella's teammate Jeff Gracia has been full-time on the Pro Stock Truck circuit, he too has posted some impressive stats:

* Gracia finished seventh in the 2000 Winston point standings. He currently has his Panella Trucking GMC Sonoma fourth in points this year.

* He took top honors, setting a track speed record, at the Holley Dominator Duel, a special non-point earning event for top qualifiers, at Route 66 Raceway, near Chicago. It was Gracia first victory and the first drag racing win for the GMC Sonoma.

* He was runner up to his teammate at the Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in May of this year. That was the first final round of his career for the Ontario, Calif., driver.

* He has established a career best elapsed time (ET) of 7.432 seconds at Houston Raceway Park in March of this year and a career best speed of 181.98 mph at Route 66 Raceway, near Chicago.

"After going to either the semifinals or finals in five of the eight events run this year, we have struggled the last few races and have failed to advance to the late rounds. We want to correct that here at St. Louis," said Gracia. "To do so, I must do my job on the lights and drive well. If we can accomplish those two main goals, you could see the Panella Trucking GMC Sonoma in the winner's circle."

Qualifying for the Sears Craftsman Nationals gets underway tomorrow, with professional qualifying at 4:15 p.m. and 7:45 pm. Qualifying concludes on Saturday with two additional session, one at 11:45 a.m. and the other at 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations take place Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m.

-TPM-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Jeff Gracia