BOB PANELLA, PANELLA TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, qualified No. 1 for the eighth time is his career and third time this season with a national track record-setting pass of 7.463 seconds at 178.92 mph today, breaking his own national record of 7.491 ...
BOB PANELLA, PANELLA TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, qualified No. 1 for the eighth time is his career and third time this season with a national track record-setting pass of 7.463 seconds at 178.92 mph today, breaking his own national record of 7.491 seconds, set last year at the Pomona finals. Weather conditions here were prime for national and track records today, as RANDY DANIELS, BAILEY TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, clocked a 7.472-second elapsed time and smashed his own national top speed record with a 180.16-mph run, posted in the final qualifying session. Both records were backed up by runs in previous sessions. The cool, dry conditions today following yesterday's wet and humid weather also was instrumental in producing the quickest Pro Stock Truck field in history: from 7.463 for Panella to Scott Perin's 7.544.
PANELLA: IS THIS RANDY AND BOB BATTLE CONTINUING? "Definitely not. We're the two fastest, 1-2 like we were last week. I've seen a lot of .40s today, I know that. It's going to be a real driver's race tomorrow. We have been kind of lax in that department, so I have to work on that, do some damage. If I do my job we'll be OK."
DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD BREAK YOUR OWN RECORD? "I knew we could do it, but I didn't know for sure. In the first round I expected more. The track just wasn't there, the track came around later. It feels good because this is probably going to be our last chance to do that for the rest of the year unless we see some weird conditions somewhere else. The 20 extra points would be nice come November."
WILL WE EVER SEE A 7.45? "I think it's a ways away. If it doesn't happen tomorrow it's a ways away. We're not going to see weather conditions like this for a long time. I knew after Houston this was our last chance to get the record. Unfortunately we didn't nip it a little there and nip it a little more here."
DOES NOT GETTING THE SPEED RECORD BOTHER YOU? "Not really. Personally I'm concerned why, but it doesn't bother me. It's not what wins races. I will try to figure out why so I know for my own personal satisfaction."
ON TOMORROW'S RACE: "All 16 trucks are tough. Hopefully we will have a little bit of luck on our side and don't do anything stupid. I was just watching Pro Stock right now (the Pro Stock field is also the quickest in history), it's amazing. It's going to be a driver's race tomorrow. The lanes look pretty equal."
WHAT MAKES THIS TRACK SO QUICK AND FAST? "The cool temperatures, the cool race track, fairly high barometer and mainly the temperatures keeping the starting line cool. The first couple of hundred feet are very important. Cool temperatures make for good acceleration."
DANIELS: "I've got a new national record, but no points. We feel like we stumbled and it was too little too late. Maybe people are thinking the right lane is better, but it looks like the fast times are coming in the left lane. That was the run we needed this morning, when we were in the left lane."
DID YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE SET LOW E.T.? "I didn't think we would pick up in that run. I think the only way that happened was because of the changes we made; hopefully we learned something."
WHAT CHANGES DID YOU MAKE? "I can't tell you. All I can say is that we've run these S-10s for two years and you think you have some kind of a handle on it and you try something off the wall that you don't think will work and it does. There is still a lot to be learned about these things."
ARE YOU MAKING ANY CHANGES FOR TOMORROW? "We're already thinking about a way we could change it a touch more. We don't want to get out of hand and shoot ourselves in the foot before race time. We feel from what we've learned that we're ready to take it one step further to see if it will continue to help."
ON INCREASING THE NATIONAL RECORD FROM THE 180.02 MPH SET IN HOUSTON: "It's nothing near like the first one. That was the big milestone; that's what we were shooting for. Still, to be able to come out and prove it again and again is cool. We know we have the horsepower, we just have to get it to the race track. This is probably the last chance for awhile we will be running these .40s."
IS IT STILL A BOB AND RANDY SHOW? "You've got (Greg) Stanfield coming on strong and Steve Johns has made leaps and bounds this weekend. It's not a two-truck race by any means. I feel like Bob and I have been awfully lucky these last few races, myself anyway, to get to the finals the last three races. From my standpoint it looks like it's going to be a lot tougher."
CAMAROS NO. 3, 4, 5 AND 6 IN FUNNY CAR QUALIFYING
JIM EPLER, in the WWF Racing Camaro Z28, leads the Camaro contingent in Funny Car qualifying, with his 4.887/307.44 qualifying run, good for third place. He's followed by WHIT BAZEMORE, in the KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28 (4.910/308.21), SCOTTY CANNON, in the OAKLEY/MAD SCIENTIST CAMARO Z28 (4.922/289.45), and RON CAPPS, in the U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28 (4.934/299.93). If Jerry Toliver had not switched to a Pontiac body for this race after tests in the GM Wind Tunnel with both the Camaro and Firebird bodies, Camaros would have been 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Toliver's switch to a Pontiac body may not be permanent, however.
CAPPS: "We have been a little behind. Last night we had to pedal the car to get it down the track. And then we had to shut the run off earlier today when it shook real bad. We wanted to go for it in the final round but at the same time we wanted to be more conservative and get down the track. It was nice to get a happy medium. We were 15th when we pulled up to the burnout area. I was really excited about Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) and Todd (Okuhara, assistant crew chief) running a 4.93 and being conservative at the same time."
ON THE TRACK SURFACE: "The track seems fine to me. Our Camaro went right down it. To run a low 4.90 the track has to be pretty decent. They have done a pretty good job. You can't get every track to be perfect, and that's what gives these tracks character. They obviously did the best they could."
BAZEMORE: ON IMPROVING EVERY ROUND: "It feels really good to have the Kendall/Matco Camaro perform as consistently as it did throughout qualifying. Although we always want to be No. 1, I'd rather have three solid 4.90 runs, as we did, instead of one 4.88 and a couple of 5.0s. That's how you win rounds and races. One of our problems this season was that, although we had been quick on occasion, we weren't really able to put a good string together. When you combine what we've done so far here with our performance in Houston, you can see why the whole team is excited. That last pass was another handful. After yesterday's run, I knew to prepare for the car shooting towards the wall when it got to the bumps, which of course it did. I had my hands completely crossed with the wheel locked in the other direction. Even so, it still got slightly out of the groove and spun the tires a bit, which cost us some e.t."
KURT JOHNSON NO. 2 IN PRO STOCK
KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, is No. 2 qualifier, 6.839/200.80. He also improved in every round. After struggling the last few races, Kurt is pleased that the Camaro is performing well.
KURT: "There must be something wrong with this Camaro! That's what my wife asked me when I called her. We're happy. We made some changes in the transmission to get over the bumps and it was a pretty smooth run on that last run. It popped out of third gear even. It could have been a hundredth right there. We are looking at a 6.82, 6.83 race car. It seems to be pretty happy. We changed springs on the back. It looks like there is a little bit of tire shake in low gear, more than there has been all weekend. So I don't know if I'll put the other springs back on or just leave it."