Bristol Richie Stevens Thursday Story

Stevens starts with top-half effort BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 8) -- Much of the noise coming out of Thunder Valley during Thursday's opening two rounds of qualifying for the Inaugural Winston Showdown surrounded the first-ever Top Fuel versus Funny...

Stevens starts with top-half effort

BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 8) -- Much of the noise coming out of Thunder Valley during Thursday's opening two rounds of qualifying for the Inaugural Winston Showdown surrounded the first-ever Top Fuel versus Funny Car battles taking place on Bristol's famous strip. But at the same time, the drivers of the ultra-competitive Pro Stock bracket were quietly waging their own battle for the bags of Winston loot up for grabs.

Richie "The Kid" Stevens, the pilot of the Valspar Refinish Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, was one of the bracket's better machines on this day. Through two rounds of qualifying, the young champion, who has already earned a spot in Saturday's elimination rounds by virtue of his win earlier this season in New Jersey, has successfully moved his car into the top half of the field in the No. 6 position.

Stevens' best lap occurred under the lights in Round 2 when the 20-year-old from New Orleans cruised down the quarter-mile in 7.090 seconds at 192.77 mph.

"To be honest, I think the Valspar car has lot more in it," Stevens said. "That was a good lap and we're happy with where we are for now, but we had a lot of vibration during both runs today. That tells me we have room to improve the car and get a lot quicker.

"We might need to switch tires. These ones are new and they seem a little out of balance. Sometimes you just get a bad pair. That appears to be the case here. The good news is that a tire problem is easy to fix and it should produce immediate results.

"There are two things we need to accomplish tomorrow. During the day session, we need to work on a Race Day set-up. At night, we need to turn it up so that we can solidify a spot in the top half of the field. I'd like to have lane choice come Saturday."

Stevens recorded a partially shut-off lap of 9.751 seconds at 95.39 mph in Round 1. The lap temporarily earned him the No. 16 spot. "With this being a brand-new track we were basically guessing at the set-up," Stevens said. "We ended up being over-aggressive and the car just spun like crazy. I tried to shift through the spinning but it didn't do much good so I just clicked it off. At the very least, we learned enough about the track, which helped us get ready for the evening session."

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Series NHRA