Joliet: GMC, Pontiac qualifying notes

JOLIET, Ill., June 2, 2001 - Despite intermittent showers throughout the day, records were set in all of the professional classes as qualifying for the 4th annual Lucas Oil Products NHRA Nationals concluded today at Route 66 Raceway. In Pro...

JOLIET, Ill., June 2, 2001 - Despite intermittent showers throughout the day, records were set in all of the professional classes as qualifying for the 4th annual Lucas Oil Products NHRA Nationals concluded today at Route 66 Raceway.

In Pro Stock Truck, Scott Perin in a Chevy S-10 qualified No. 1 with a track-record elapsed time of 7.423 seconds at 181.08 mph. Defending event champion Bob Panella Jr. is qualified second in a Chevy S-10 and teammate Jeff Gracia qualified fifth in his Panella Trucking GMC Sonoma with an elapsed time of 7.448 seconds at a track-record speed of 180.94 mph. Don Smith was qualified third in a Chevy S-10, and Todd Patterson was fourth in a Dodge Dakota R/T. Gracia also reached the finals of today's Holley Pro Stock Truck Dominator Duel and defeated Patterson for GMC Sonoma's first-ever win in racing.

In Pro Stock, Mike Edwards in the Young Life Chevrolet Cavalier held on to the No. 1 qualifying spot, but he bettered his time with a track-record run of 6.842 seconds at 200.50 mph. Jim Yates in the Spitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am is second with a time of 6.844 seconds at 200.44 mph. Edwards' teammate, Ron Krisher, is third in a Cavalier at a track-record speed of 200.83 mph. Mark Pawuk is fourth in a Grand Am and Troy Coughlin is fifth in a Cavalier.

In Funny Car, John Force is qualified No. 1 in the Castrol Mustang at an NHRA elapsed-time record of 4.7638 seconds at a track-record 320.05 mph. Scotty Cannon jumped up to fifth in a Firebird with an elapsed time of 4.829 seconds and 308.92 mph. Dean Skuza is second in a Dodge R/T, Tony Pedregon is third in a Mustang, and Ron Capps is fourth in a Camaro. Local fan-favorite John Lawson from Joliet qualified his Lucas Oil Firebird ninth with a career-best elapsed time of 4.854 seconds at 314.02 mph in the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history.

Mike Dunn in Top Fuel qualified the Gwynn/Steinbrenner/Yankees GMC Dragster fourth at 4.559 seconds and 330.55 mph. Kenny Bernstein qualified No. 1 at an NHRA elapsed-time record of 4.477 seconds at 330.88 mph.


Jeff Gracia (Panella Trucking GMC Sonoma) - "This was a good day for the entire Panella Trucking race team, and it's quite an accomplishment winning this Holley Dominator Duel. We caught a break when Bob (Panella) had his problems in the semi's, and then in the finals we just had a good, close race. That was just a good ol' fashion race between manufacturers, GMC Sonoma over Dodge. I'm in select company with Bob (Panella) winning the first Dominator Duel and Randy Daniels winning last year. And it's great that we got GMC Sonoma its first win. Hopefully we'll need some more of these GMC winner's circle hats before the year's out." No. 5 qualifier - 7.448MPH/ 181.98MPH


Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) - "Well our Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am is running really well. The team's working really hard and it's paying off. We're happy to be in the top half of the field. But we still face Richie Stevens who is really good at the starting line. The weather was changing so quickly and the air was really the best we've seen in a long time. We were trying to decide if we should keep it conservative or try and go for it and move up in the field. In the end we figured that the track could take it so we went for it and ran our best numbers all weekend. We feel really good about where we stand. Tomorrow will be a different day but hopefully the weather won't be. We've had an excellent weekend and it would be even better if we could get the same kind of weather tomorrow. This Pro Stock class is really tough. Everyone is really stepping up. It's great competition and makes it interesting and fun to watch. That's what our sport is all about. I think tomorrow we're going to see some really good racing. I hope to be apart of that at the end of the day." No. 2 qualifier - 6.844ET/ 200.44MPH

Mark Pawuk (Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am) - "We weren't real happy with the first three runs we made, but during that last session we finally had that run we were looking for in the Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am. We really needed to get in the top-half of the field so we could have lane choice. That is really important here. We accomplished that so we now need to focus on winning some rounds. We would love to stay No. 1 in points going into Columbus. We're trying not to think about that right now though. So much could change. There are a lot of good teams out there and we know we're one of them. We're going to take it one round at a time and go from there, but I really think we have as good a shot as anybody out there. I'm looking forward to the challenge of facing Jeggie (Coughlin) in that first round. It will be a good drag race. I hope to be the one to the finish line first." No. 4 qualifier - 6.855ET/199.94MPH


John Lawson (Lucas Oil Products Pontiac Firebird) - "We're very happy with how the Lucas Oil Products Pontiac Firebird ran today. Being in front of the home crowd just makes it that much better and being the sponsor of the race, we really wanted in this field. There's something about this place that makes me run well and I've always loved coming here. Everyone is praying for us and it works here. The run itself felt great. I knew in my mind that it was a good run, and I had no doubt that we ran a good number. I can't believe the Funny Car record has been broken again. It's kind of scary and makes you wonder where this class is going. We're just happy to be a part of it. We thought that we were going to have a good run last night but it didn't work out that way. We were worried about the rain today, but we were fortunate to get another session in. My crew has done a great job. It's been a long time since I've seen smiles on their faces and they are smiling today. We've been waiting for this run for a long time. We knew the car could do it, and it finally proved itself today. We are looking forward to putting on a good show on race day." No. 9 qualifier - 4.854ET/314.02MPH

Del Worsham (Mountain Dew/Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - (WORSHAM SUFFERED A MAJOR ENGINE EXPLOSION IN HIS FINAL QUALIFYING PASS WHICH LAUNCHED HIS FUNNY CAR BODY 30 FEET IN THE AIR) "First of all, I'm alright but I'm pretty lucky it threw the body off. Not lucky in the sense it's a brand new body and the Pepsi people wanted to see it run tomorrow but lucky for me because it allowed the fire to go out. If the body would've stayed on, that would've been seriously nasty. For as much as we blew it up and as high as we launched it, the body ended up not being in too bad of shape. It's completely fixable, but it's seriously doubtful we can fix it by tomorrow. It's not ruined by any means, but it's hurt pretty bad and I don't think we have the time or wherewithal to get it fixed by tomorrow. We'll take a harder look at it later and see what we've got, but right now we're still trying to figure out what broke. The car was on a huge pass, 4.70 stuff, and was just driving right down there and then, KABOOM! I'm sure we'll find that something broke in there, probably something small. The heads look okay, the blower looks okay, the rods are in it. It just lifted the heads right off the block. We'll spend some time tonight sorting this out and figuring it out. We may not be able to run the Dew car tomorrow, but I bet they get some serious TV time with it because of that. Anything for the sponsor!" No. 6 qualifier - 4.831ET/315.19MPH

Frank Pedregon (Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Pontiac Firebird) - "That was by far the quickest 60-foot time of my career, the conditions are unbelievable here. But it wasn't going to make it and I shut it off to save the car, really. We ran record numbers and it still wanted more, but it shook and it wasn't going to make it. This was a day to remember." No. 14 qualifier - 4.887ET/314.02MPH

-GM Racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Troy Coughlin , Bob Panella , Mike Dunn , Kenny Bernstein , Mark Pawuk , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Ron Krisher , Todd Patterson , Jeff Gracia , Randy Daniels , Mike Edwards