Brainerd Richie Stevens Friday Report

Kid battles to keep up with Day 1 pace BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 20) -- The 18th Annual Colonel Truck Accessories Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway started with a bang Friday afternoon with three track records falling by the wayside in...

Kid battles to keep up with Day 1 pace

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 20) -- The 18th Annual Colonel Truck Accessories Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway started with a bang Friday afternoon with three track records falling by the wayside in the day's opening round of professional qualifying. Two of the three impressive marks came out of the ultra-competitive Pro Stock bracket when defending Winston champ Warren Johnson posted a 6.955-second pass at 197.59 mph.

Trying to keep pace with Johnson was Richie "The Kid" Stevens, the pilot of the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird. Buoyed by a large cheering section from Valspar's corporate headquarters in nearby Minneapolis, the 20-year-old Stevens finished his opening day with a steady lap of 7.045 seconds at 194.66 mph to grab the No. 13 spot in the 26-car field.

"That was a pretty good lap for us," Stevens said. "I actually thought it would be better than it was. It sure felt quicker. It's too bad we were up near the front of the session because the track certainly got better as the round went along. It was still a little green and cold when I ran and the Valspar car was really skating around a lot.

"I'm really glad that we were able to pick up our performance from Round 1 and I still believe we have a ton of room to improve. Tomorrow could be real good or real bad. It all depends on the weather. You just never know up here in Brainerd."

Stevens opened his weekend of racing with a steady 7.067-second pass at 194.60 mph to temporarily grab the 15th spot in the 26-car field. "We were light on the clutch that time," Stevens said. "Meaning that the motor was moving at a higher RPM then the clutch was. That caused us to slow down quite a bit as the clutch and motor fought to come together.

"Plus, the track seemed real bouncy in that (right) lane. Jim Yates ran right in front of me and he said the same thing. At least we know what we're dealing with now.

"The first big wave of Valspar folks are here today and their support really has me fired up for this weekend when the really big group is coming up. I want to show those people the full potential of their car. It's a nice way to motivate the team."

Highlights of qualifying will be shown nationwide Saturday evening from 8-9 p.m. ET on Speedvision. Sunday's elimination rounds will be shown on Fox Sports from 7-9 p.m. CST.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson