COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 17) â€“ Mission accomplished. Thatâ€™s the sentiment in the Valspar Refinish pit of Pro Stock driver Richie â€œThe Kidâ€ Stevens since the group finished the rain-plagued qualifying rounds of the 36th annual Pontiac...
COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 17) – Mission accomplished. That’s the sentiment in the Valspar Refinish pit of Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens since the group finished the rain-plagued qualifying rounds of the 36th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals as one of the lucky 16 teams that will race on Sunday.
Stevens followed the trend of the entire class, which completely reset the elimination field in the third and final session Saturday evening, by saving his best lap for last. He posted a steady 7.003-second lap at 194.69 mph to grab the 13th spot.
“The first goal of every race is to qualify,” Stevens said. “We did that and I’m really happy. We’re in and our (31 race) qualifying streak is alive for at least another week.
“On the other hand, I’m a little worried about the Valspar Pontiac. We made a decent run in the final session but it sure seems like it should have been better. I don’t know what’s wrong. The car went straight down the track and I hit all the shift points at the right time, it just seemed slow. I was expecting a lot more at the top end.”
Stevens will face No. 4 qualifier Troy Coughlin of the Columbus-based Jeg’s Mail Order racing team in the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations. Coughlin ran a 6.968 at 196.70 mph in Round 3.
“I thought we’d be right around the same elapsed time that Troy ran. We’ll have to dissect the computer data and figure out what we can do to pick it up a little. Either way we’re close enough to beat him if I hit a good light and drive straight.
“The car itself feels great. The adjustments Tommy (Utt, crew chief) made to the chassis have definitely helped. The car drove well every lap. It’s been a few races since I’ve been able to say that so I’m pretty pleased. I definitely would have liked to run quicker today but I still like our chances. We’ll have to focus on each opponent tomorrow and just go for it one round at a time.”
ESPN2 will broadcast same-day race coverage of this event starting early Sunday afternoon with first-round action from 1:30-2:30 p.m. (ET) and semifinal and final-round action from 5-7 p.m. (ET). A rebroadcast of the elimination rounds will air tomorrow night from 9:30-11:30 p.m. (ET) and again from 2:30-3:30 a.m. (ET) on Friday, June 23.