Joliet: Team Panella eliminations

Joliet, Ill. - - Todd Patterson, from Augusta, Kan., turned the tables on Jeff Gracia when he defeated the Ontario, Calif., driver in the second round of the Lucas Oil Products Nationals. Fresh from a victory over Patterson in yesterday's Holley...

Joliet, Ill. - - Todd Patterson, from Augusta, Kan., turned the tables on Jeff Gracia when he defeated the Ontario, Calif., driver in the second round of the Lucas Oil Products Nationals. Fresh from a victory over Patterson in yesterday's Holley Dominator Duel, Gracia lost on a hole shot to Patterson today. (A hole shot is when a driver uses a better reaction time - - the time between the green light and leaving the starting line - - to defeat a quicker quarter-mile run.)

Patterson's reaction time was .448 seconds. While Gracia left the starting line in .495 seconds. Patterson ran the Route 66 Raceway quarter-mile in 4.471 seconds and nipped Gracia at the finish line by .0454 seconds. Gracia recorded a pass of 7.469 seconds.

"For the conditions and time (of day) we had a good run," said a disappointed Gracia. "The only problem was he got out on me and I couldn't run him down. This GMC Sonoma was capable of winning the whole thing and 'doubling up.' It just wasn't meant to be, I guess. From here we go to Columbus next. The Sonoma is running really good and maybe in Columbus we can win a real one (point earning race)."

The win for Gracia's GMC Sonoma during the Holley Dominator Duel was the first drag racing win for the Sonoma.

Gracia's teammate Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., defeated Ruben Celedon, from Edinburg, Texas, in the opening round. Then in the second round Panella almost utilized a hole shot of his own to turn back Greg Stanfield, from Bossier City, La., but lost by a margin of .0055 seconds.

"Unfortunately, we were a little soft on the clutch in the first round and lost lane choice by two-thousandths of a second. We thought the lanes were a little more equal than they turned out to be - - and actually I think they were equal in the first round But in the second round the right lane got a little bald. Also, you have to deal with a bump in high gear in that right lane. When you lose by five-thousandths of a second you can't give up anything, anywhere. I'm proud of myself and my driving. I've turned that around pretty good in the last few races. I've got to make consistent runs and we'll win some more races," said Panella, the reigning and two-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck champion.

Greg Stanfield, who was runner up today, moved back atop the Winston Pro Stock Truck point standings. Panella, with 600 points, is second and trails the leader by 25 points. Randy Daniels, from Grantsboro, N.C., is third with 590 points. Gracia continues to hold down the fourth spot and now has accumulated 504 points. Rounding out the top five is Scott Perin, today's winner, from Pen Argyle, Penn., with 397 points.

The next event for Team Panella will be the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway in Kirkersville, Ohio, just outside Columbus. The event will be contested June 14 through 17. Professional qualifying will take place Friday and Saturday, with final eliminations on Sunday.

-Team Panella

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