PRO STOCK TRUCK: PANELLA WINS HIS FOURTH TITLE OF YEAR; EXTEND POINTS LEAD OVER DANIELS BOB PANELLA JR., PANELLA TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, qualified only ninth, the worst all season, but rebounded to win his fourth title of the year, extending his...
PRO STOCK TRUCK: PANELLA WINS HIS FOURTH TITLE OF YEAR; EXTEND POINTS LEAD OVER DANIELS
BOB PANELLA JR., PANELLA TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, qualified only ninth, the worst all season, but rebounded to win his fourth title of the year, extending his points lead over RANDY DANIELS, BAILEY TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, who went out in the first round. He defeated JOHN COUGHLIN, JEG'S MAIL ORDER CHEVY S-10, in the pair's second final-round appearance of the year. Coughlin beat Panella in St. Louis this year and is the only winner other than Panella and Daniels this season. Panella's 7.535/176.86 bested Coughlin's 7.622/176.63, with the margin of victory a mere four-hundredths of a second. He set an elapsed time track record in that run. Daniels and Panella tied the track speed record at 176.86 mph.
This was Panella's first win at the U.S. Nationals; he was runner-up in 1998 to Chevy S-10 driver LARRY KOPP, who won the Winston Championship in the series' inaugural season that year.
PANELLA: "We finally figured out the power today because we struggled in qualifying. We can't really tell you why. We didn't do a whole lot of testing over the break; I don't think that hurt us. We came here and something was wrong. We were running good, but not where we wanted to be. The whole crew worked hard every run; we knew we had roomm for improvement. Saturday afternoon I got a little discouraged, but the crew got that S-10 flying today. All I had to do was to get my head on straight and take the win." ON EXTENDING THE POINTS LEAD: "I love the breathing room. I don't necessarily like the way I got it. Randy is a good person, so are the Coughlin bunch. There are a lot of good people we race against. Going out with a mechanical problem early is not what we want to see happen to anybody. You hate to see that kind of stuff happen." ON THE FINAL ROUND: "I kind of owed him one. I didn't want to give it up at the starting line. I didn't have the reaction time advantage (.486 for Panella; .440 for Coughlin). He wore me out pretty good in St. Louis. I was faster than he was. I was just trying to keep focused. I knew he was a good racer; his brother won here last year. That was in the back of my mind. I was in what I thought was the good lane, maybe I had a little performance advantage. If he had a decent light he would be really tough to beat; it worked out for us."
JOHN COUGHLIN: "Those guys (Panella's team) are pretty awesome. They seem to run a lot faster in the finals. We wanted to make sure that we could run a (7).57 or a .58. If we could couple that up with a good reaction time we might be able to beat them. I had a decent light with a .440, he was too awesome for us in the final. He beat us by four hundredths of a second. These guys are going to have a good fight to the finish with Daniels for the championship." ON THE SEASON: "Our goal is to finish in the top four; we're there right now, I believe (he's third). If we can hang on to that it would be awesome."
TITLE CONTENDER DANIELS OUT IN FIRST ROUND
RANDY DANIELS, BAILEY TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, watched his chances of winning his first Winston Championship dwindle, as he was eliminated in the first round of the Pro Stock Truck eliminations by Todd Patterson when his S-10 suffered a broken driveshaft at the start. Daniels coasted to a 21.328-second elapsed time at 34.70 mph, while Patterson moved on to win with a 7.679/174.48. The temperature dropped nearly 30 degrees today, and a cloud cover continues to linger over the circuit.
DANIELS: "We broke the driveshaft. I left, the S-10 was in there, and all of a sudden it stopped. I felt some serious vibration and it just quit. A simple driveshaft probably screwed up the whole combination because the motor revved to the moon. The shift light came on and I pulled second gear and didn't go anywhere. It just fell on its face. It just wasn't meant to be. Mechanical failure hurts more than driver failure, I believe." THIS HURTS IN POINTS: "It's going to hurt real bad. We had an opportunity here I thought to at least hold our own and hopefully make some ground; it just didn't happen. As good as the season has been, it's trying to turn bad on me here; I hope it's just a fluke. We have run a pretty tight ship all season long. This is something just totally out of anyone's control. There was no way to check it. It gave us no signs whatsoever, no vibration, shake or anything. We had a spare in the trailer. It didn't do me any good out there on the starting line." ON THE DROP IN TEMPERATURE: "We were expecting to run some serious numbers. The computer was showing we would be capable of putting out some really fast times, the track seemed awfully good."
PRO STOCK: KJ GOES TO SEMIS; LOSES TO KRISHER
KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, defeated Brad Jeter and Troy Coughlin en route to the semifinal round meeting with Ron Krisher. Krisher has been strong this season, so has Kurt. But it was Krisher first at the finish, winning on a holeshot advantage with a .469 reaction time to Kurt's .510, taking the victory with a 6.924-second pass at 196.99 mph to Kurt's quicker 6.892/198.03.
KURT: "The car was getting better with every run. There was just a little tire chatter in low gear. We changed some clutch parts after the first round and that seems to have helped. The run against Krisher was smooth. We adjusted the carburetor and picked up the speed in the back half. Whatever was going on with the timing system made it look worse than it was. The timers seemed to be taking four hundredths off the 60-foot time and adding it to the reaction time. I got a .988-second 60-foot time -- that's not realistic because my best previous 60-foot time was 1.02. It makes it look like the elapsed time is quicker and the reaction time is slower."