RICHIE STEVENS JR., DON SCHUMACHER RACING TEAM MOPAR/VALSPAR DODGE STRATUS R/T: LOOSE BOLT ENDS STEVENS' DAY EARLY IN BRISTOL Richie Stevens Jr. was eager to get on to Bristol Dragway's quarter-mile today for the Pro Stock eliminations at the ...
RICHIE STEVENS JR., DON SCHUMACHER RACING TEAM MOPAR/VALSPAR DODGE
LOOSE BOLT ENDS STEVENS' DAY EARLY IN BRISTOL
Richie Stevens Jr. was eager to get on to Bristol Dragway's quarter-mile today for the Pro Stock eliminations at the re-scheduled O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals after qualifying No. 7. But a loose bolt ended his day in the opening round. He lost to Larry Morgan after posting a .180 reaction time (.000 is perfect) to Morgan's .029.
Stevens made a valiant charge to the finish line, but came up .1556 of a second short of Morgan's winning 6.848-second elapsed time at 202.21 mph with his 6.852/202.55 pass.
Stevens is ninth in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock point standings, just 28 points out of the No. 8 position, which would earn him a place in the Countdown to the Championship, beginning at the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend.
"We run these clutches so tight, air-gap wise," explained Stevens. "The tighter you run it, the closer it is. When I went down on the throttle the car just rolled, kept rolling. I tried to stop it. It was pretty much the same thing that happened in Chicago.
"The crew found a bolt loose on the bell housing when we came back to the pits, which compensated the air gap. It wasn't where it was supposed to be set. When I went down on the clutch and went down on the throttle at the same time the discs were glazing and grabbing, just pulling the car up. I tried to hold it back by pushing the clutch pedal down harder. By the time all these motions are set, the tree comes down and you look like an idiot.
"It was a mechanical error. I did my best to keep it from red-lighting. I had just seen Warren (Johnson) go up there and red light right in front of me. I didn't want to do the same. It's just one of those things.
"We probably would have had that round. We still went an .85 against Larry. He went an .84. We could have easily gone an .80 and got the round win.
"It's a hard one to swallow when you know you've got the car. Last week I screwed up, this week the car messed up, so hopefully we're getting all of this out of the way.
"This Countdown to the Championship points battle is getting to the end, and we want to get in there, and we can't have things like this happen."
ALLEN JOHNSON, MOPAR/J&J RACING DODGE STRATUS R/T:
A.J. WINS HIS FIRST ROUND EVER AT BRISTOL DRAGWAY
Greeneville, Tenn., resident Allen Johnson made local history today by winning his first-ever round of a national NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event at Bristol Dragway when Max Naylor red-lighted. Johnson posted a solid 6.820-second elapsed time at 202.42 mph on a track whose temperature reached as high as 133 degrees today under 90-degree-plus conditions.
Unfortunately, he couldn't hold off a strong run by David Connolly in the second round, losing to the Norwalk, Ohio, winner by nine feet. Johnson's stout .030 reaction time was no match for Connolly's .017 (.000 is perfect). A.J. posted another highly-respectable pass of 6.816/202.64, but lost to Connolly's 6.800/203.43.
"I'm not happy losing that round by any means," said Johnson, who remains fifth in the point standings. "But, you know, we got the first-round monkey off our back in Bristol and again we went to the second round (for the fifth time this year). We didn't put any distance between ourselves and eighth (in the Countdown to the Championship), but we maintain our spread, so with five races to go before the Countdown kicks in, we're about four rounds out. We're OK.
"We made really good runs. The hotter the track got, shoot, we just kept making better runs. I think if we'd had a couple more runs we might have been as fast as the top two fast cars. We're happy. We'll go to Denver and maybe win one."