St Louis: Pro Stock finals report

ELIMINATIONS PRO STOCK TRUCK: FOR THE FIRST TIME ALL YEAR, IT'S NOT A PANELLA OR A DANIELS IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE: JOHN COUGHLIN WINS IN CHEVY S-10 JOHN COUGHLIN, JEG'S MAIL ORDER CHEVY S-10, won his first Pro Stock Truck title since 1999 in...

ELIMINATIONS

PRO STOCK TRUCK:  FOR THE FIRST TIME ALL YEAR, IT'S NOT A PANELLA OR A
DANIELS IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE:  JOHN COUGHLIN WINS IN CHEVY S-10

JOHN COUGHLIN, JEG'S MAIL ORDER CHEVY S-10, won his first Pro Stock Truck title since 1999 in Columbus, by defeating defending Winston Champion and points leader BOB PANELLA JR., PANELLA TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, in the final round. He did it on a holeshot advantage with a near-perfect reaction time of .408 of a second (.400 is perfect) to Panella's .494. Coughlin's slower elapsed time of 7.614 seconds at 176.35 mph was enough to beat Panella's. 7.548/177.44, the quickest e.t. of the weekend, and a new track record. Coughlin defeated both of the Pro Stock Truck hot shoes today (Panella and Daniels are 1-2 in points and before today were the only ones to win this season). He also disposed of RANDY DANIELS, BAILEY TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, in the second round, also on a holeshot advantage. He had a .418 light to Daniels' .463. Coughlin eliminated Jeff Naiser, Daniels and Brian Self en route to the final round. Panella took care of Rob Slavinski, Rick Jones and Mark Whisnant on his journey to meet Coughlin.

Panella extended his Winston Championship points to lead to 53 over Daniels (899-846.)

COUGHLIN: WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG TO WIN? "I just hadn't won enough rounds. We ran good and we're going to win some more of those things. My goal was to try to have the best reaction time I possibly could, get the shifts on time and with a little luck maybe we could beat them. It just worked out that we did." DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD LEFT ON HIM? "No, because I have tape on my visor so that I can't see anything but the Tree and the shift light and down-track and I don't look over, I just concentrate on doing my job." DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD HIM AT HALF-TRACK? "No, at no time. I saw him turning the corner down there (exiting the track), going about 160. That's the only time I saw him." DID YOU THINK YOU HAD TO HOLESHOT TO BEAT HIM? "Definitely. I thought we would run a little better than a .61 in the final. I had no idea he could run a .54. The track came around, the S-10 came around. A .61 in the right lane was awesome and to double it up with a good reaction time, we had the right ingredients to win." HAS IT BEEN FRUSTRATING TO SEE ONLY DANIELS AND PANELLA WIN THIS SEASON? "We want to win, there's no question. When we think we've got the combination to go fast, they come out and run a little faster than we do. It's frustrating. But, anybody can win; you have got to string eight runs together and if you have a bit of luck you can win races." WAS IT SPECIAL TO BEAT BOTH OF THEM? "No question. Someone at the finish line said 'you beat the best today in the final.' I said, 'well, I beat both of them.'"

PANELLA: ON THE SLOWER REACTION TIME: "I don't know. I honestly believe that I back off. I know I do. I don't know why I do. I don't want to give it away red-lighting, instead I give it away being late. I've got a little phobia with the final rounds right now, I don't know why. It's tough when you are the fastest truck and you know there's only one way to lose and it's to red-light -- especially at night, you don't want to do anything stupid. I back off. A whisper is five hundredths of a second; that's all it takes." WAS IT A RELIEF WHEN YOU SAW DANIELS LOSE TO COUGHLIN? "Definitely. John helped us out in the second round; he could have helped us out a little more in the final. We have a little more breathing room. I'm pretty confident now going into the summer break; I'm just going to work hard to keep a little bit of an advantage and hopefully finish off the year strong. Maybe we can change our final-round luck a little bit. I have no problem getting into the final round; it's (losing) the final round that's a little bit of a pet peeve." ON THE FIRST NON-DANIELS, PANELLA WIN: "I'm actually glad it happened. I'm glad he won because he had to beat Randy to do it. That's good for me. It's good for the class. As much as I like to win every race there are a lot of other trucks out there that deserve to win too. Our goal is to be on top at the end and to do my best to do that."

PRO STOCK: KJ LOSES TO DAD; RICKIE SMITH ADVANCES TO SEMIS

While RICKIE SMITH, in a CAMARO Z28, eliminated Troy Coughlin (a no-show) and Mark Pawuk on his way to the semifinals, he fell to eventual title winner Ron Krisher in the semifinals. Smith's 6.990/196.30 and .499 reaction time wasn't strong enough to defeat the class's hottest driver this season, who won with a 6.911/198.41, .424 R/T.

KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, dismissed Brad Jeter in the first round, then faced his dad Warren in the second, losing to the senior Johnson when he lost third gear. Kurt coasted to a 10.179-second lap at 89.35 mph, while Warren advanced with a 6.981/197.77.

KURT: "We broke third gear in the transmission. It's an unfortunate situation. I guess if you're going to break it, you might as well break it against the car you work on. It's just bad luck; bad luck has been plaguing us. What can I say? We had a No. 2 car again, the second quickest car out there, we should be able to go to the final, but you can't go to the final with broken transmission parts. We were actually a little aggressive in the first round, we had the Camaro changed around a little bit and it spun and chattered the tires just a little bit out there and we lost lane choice going into the second round. We had to run Warren. He didn't make a good run (in qualifying) 'til the last run and that put him No. 7. But the broken transmission was the biggest part of it. When I put it in third gear, there was no third gear."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Troy Coughlin , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Ron Krisher , Mark Whisnant , Brian Self