Memphis: Team Panella final qualifying

Millington, Tenn. - - Team Panella drivers Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., and Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., had different views of Friday's first day of qualifying for the NHRA AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Memphis ...

Millington, Tenn. - - Team Panella drivers Bob Panella, from Stockton, Calif., and Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., had different views of Friday's first day of qualifying for the NHRA AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Gracia, with passes of 7.505 seconds at 179.68 mph and 7.484 seconds at 180.38 mph was pleased with the performance of his GMC Sonoma. At the end of the first day of qualifying Gracia holds down the fifth spot.

"We had two decent runs today," said Gracia, as he reflected on his Friday passes. "We left a little bit on the table in the second run, so we've got something to improve on tomorrow. Hopefully we can make two good runs on Saturday, stay in the top half of the field, and get ready for race day."

Meanwhile, Gracia's teammate Panella, who currently holds down the top spot in the Winston point chase, had a completely opposite view.

"We didn't make good calls today. We guessed on the weather being worst on Friday than on Saturday. That might have been a mistake. Hey, we'll just have to go out on Saturday and do our best and try to get in the top half of the field, then see what this Chevy S-10 can do during eliminations," said Panella, who currently sits in ninth on the qualifying ladder.

On a hot and humid Saturday, the two Team Panella drivers swapped their views of Friday. For Panella it was: "What a difference a day makes." For Gracia it was: "Yesterday."

"What a difference a day makes^Å What a difference three hours makes. This morning's run was okay until we saw Mike (Coughlin) go 42 (7.42 seconds). Now all we can do is keep our head up and look toward race day tomorrow. The conditions tomorrow are probably going to be like today. The majority of the time we're going to be running in the heat. We found a good race day set up for the heat. Maybe we can transfer it over to Jeff's (Gracia) truck and both of us be tough tomorrow," said Panella, as qualifying came to an end on Saturday.

Gracia added, "Yesterday was good, today we made a 180 degree turn around. We made two good runs on Friday. Today we thought we'd come and fine tune it but went progressively backwards. Hopefully, we can get it back to where it was yesterday in time for Sunday's eliminations."

When eliminations get underway tomorrow, Panella will square off against Don Smith, from Keller, Texas, while Gracia takes on Greg Stanfield, from Bossier City, La., in the opening round.

-TP-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Jeff Gracia , Greg Stanfield