Pomona: Bob Panella Motorsports finals notes

Pomona, Calif. - - Heat continued as a factor today at the NHRA AutoZone Winternationals. Bob Panella, Jr., from Stockton, Calif., the reigning NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck champion, lost a close race in the second round of eliminations today.

Pomona, Calif. - - Heat continued as a factor today at the NHRA AutoZone Winternationals. Bob Panella, Jr., from Stockton, Calif., the reigning NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck champion, lost a close race in the second round of eliminations today. Teammate Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., who qualified in the fifth qualifying position, advanced to the semi-finals.

In a race that was determined by approximately one foot, Panella lost to Greg Stanfield. Stanfield cruised the Pomona Dragway quarter-mile in 7.533 seconds at 178.97 mph in a winning effort. Panella, who lost by 8-thousandths of a second, recorded a run of 7.529 seconds at 180.36 mph. Panella had defeated Larry Kopp in the opening round to reach the quarter-finals but lost lane choice.

"Because of the heat, lane choice was important and could mean a few hundredths to who has the choice. At the light, he (Stanfield) got out on me but I was eating him up (gaining on him) at the top end but ran out of real estate. Our truck has more power than anyone out here right now, we've just got to learn how to apply it to the track." said Panella, who established a Pomona Dragway track speed record and set the national standard for Pro Stock Trucks at 181.42 mph in a Chevy S-10 on Thursday.

"There's about six weeks between now and the next race. We're going to go do some testing and try to figure out a few more things. I want to get the performance on Jeff's (Gracia) truck a little closer to mine. This will allow greater data sharing."

Gracia defeated Bart Price and Mike Corvo, Jr. leading to his semi-final match up with Randy Daniels. Against Daniels, Gracia's GMC Sonoma left first but couldn't stay with the Grantsboro, N.C. driver. It was a winning pass of 7.517 seconds at 179.44 mph for Daniels and a losing effort of 7.570 seconds at 179.09 mph for Gracia. Moving to the final round, Daniels defeated Greg Stanfield to take the event title.

"The truck moved around just a little bit. It was extremely hot and the lane was slick. It wasn't anything major. It wasn't why I lost the race. Randy (Daniels) just out ran me, did his job, and beat me," said Gracia, as he reflected on the loss.

In Winston points, Gracia is fourth with 74 points. Panella, who won this event in 2000, is fifth with 57 points.

-Mickey Schultz

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Larry Kopp , Jeff Gracia , Randy Daniels , Greg Stanfield