Dallas: Career outing restores Stevens' faith

DALLAS (Oct. 16) -- For the second time this year, Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens enters a national event fresh off a career performance at the previous race. And if the weather conditions are just right when the 15th annual O'Reilly...

DALLAS (Oct. 16) -- For the second time this year, Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens enters a national event fresh off a career performance at the previous race. And if the weather conditions are just right when the 15th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec begin this Friday, his powerful Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird could do it again at the Texas Motorplex in nearby Ennis.

Earlier in the season, the 22-year-old from New Orleans reset both ends of his personal best marks with a stunning 6.840-second lap at 200.23 mph. Just one race ago in Memphis, the popular pro lowered the all-important elapsed time figure to 6.836 seconds -- the sixth quickest recorded time in the 49-year history of the NHRA.

"We've had a great run with this Valspar Pontiac over the last several races," said Stevens, who won just six races ago in Seattle. "It's been running very strong and Tommy and John (Utt, crewmen) have done a great job of matching our horsepower to the racetracks. I pretty sure we'll be able to continue our hot streak in Dallas.

"We'll be running (fellow Pro Stock driver and NBA player) Tom Hammonds' motor in Dallas. He was having trouble with his car this year and now that he's back playing basketball he's asked us to run this motor to see if that's what's causing him problems.

"The motor is basically brand new. He bought it from Ron Krisher and only put four runs on it in Topeka. It's pretty much identical to ours and the one we ran our career best with last week in Memphis. The guys at Krisher's shop, Jim Oliver and Rocky Roberts, tell me the only motor they have better than this one is the one Ron uses. Still, if there is a problem, we have both of our own pieces ready to go."

Stevens is currently in seventh place in the Winston championship points standings. It's a position he's held for the majority of the year, reaching as high as fifth place at times while also slipping out of the Top 10 to 11th place for one event. A strong showing in Texas could lift the sport's youngest national event winner as high as fifth place.

"We're in the best shape we could possibly be in for these last three races," Stevens said. "I'm not going to spend all of my time worrying about the points. I just need to go out and race and let that stuff take care of itself."

Same-day television coverage of the 15th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals will be divided into two shows on ESPN2. The first round of eliminations will air from 1:30-3:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday, Oct. 22. The remainder of the elimination rounds will be broadcast later that day from 6-8 p.m., with a rebroadcast at 1-3 a.m. (ET) Monday morning.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Krisher , Tom Hammonds