STEVENS MAKES STRONG RUN TO QUALIFY NO. 7 IN BRISTOL Richie Stevens Jr. drove the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T to a No. 7 qualifying spot at the re-scheduled O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, setting his quickest...
STEVENS MAKES STRONG RUN TO QUALIFY NO. 7 IN BRISTOL
Richie Stevens Jr. drove the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T to a No. 7 qualifying spot at the re-scheduled O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, setting his quickest lap, 6.798 seconds at 203.06 mph, in the final session under the heat of a bright Tennessee sun.
His other laps produced a 6.825/202.52, a 6.824/201.49 and a 6.806/203.65.
"This track is a hard one to get down, but we finally got a handle on it," said Stevens, praising his crew chief. "Mark Ingersoll did his job. We had two runs yesterday that really weren't that great, and we were having a hard time getting over the bumps out there, but Mark did his homework overnight and we made two pretty good, smooth runs today.
"That last one was pretty flawless. I haven't seen it yet on the graph, but it was probably a pretty good run. It felt good from inside the car. We got in the top half, we got lane choice, that should be a big plus tomorrow. So, we'll go out there and hopefully get some redemption on Larry (Morgan). He took me out last week and we have him first round tomorrow. So, hopefully I can do my job this time and pick up a win and get us back in the top eight in points, where we need to be.
"The Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge is running awesome and we'd like to do well in front of Roy and Allen's hometown (Greeneville, Tenn). I know Roy wanted both of us to do good and we're both in the top half. Hopefully we can do our jobs tomorrow and go some rounds."
As for lane choice, "I think the left lane is better on the starting line but worse down track, and the right's kind of the opposite," he said. "The right is not as good on the starting line, but smoother down track. The starting line is the most crucial part of the track, so we'll probably go with the better starting line, which is probably the left, and see how it goes."
As mentioned, Stevens faces Larry Morgan in first round of eliminations on Sunday.
JOHNSON IMPRESSES IN FRONT OF HOMETOWN CROWD
Greeneville, Tenn., resident Allen Johnson collected the No. 6 Pro Stock qualifying position for the O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, driving the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T.
Johnson posted his quickest pass during the third qualifying round today in the heat of the day, a 6.791-second lap at 203.28 mph. His other passes included a 6.849/201.73, a 6.814/202.12 and finally a 6.815/202.64.
"So far, so good," he said. "The track was giving us a fit there the first couple of runs with the bumps, but we switched the cars all around and got them smooth today and we both picked up. We're both (he and Richie Stevens Jr.) in the top half and right on plan."
As for a 'home-track advantage?' "I don't know about that," he said. "This track has never, ever been good to me. It's like (track announcer) Bob Frey said, 'That Allen Johnson. You know, he's trying to win a round here, not a race.' And that's about the truth. We just never have had any luck here, so tomorrow we're going to go for it and try it and see what we can do."
Johnson faces Max Naylor in first round of eliminations on Sunday.