Dallas: Richie Stevens peaking at the right time

DALLAS (May 24) -- It's amazing what a career weekend will do for a driver's confidence. Pro Stock favorite Richie "The Kid" Stevens emerged from last weekend's partially rained-out event in Englishtown, N.J., on an incredible high. After...

DALLAS (May 24) -- It's amazing what a career weekend will do for a driver's confidence. Pro Stock favorite Richie "The Kid" Stevens emerged from last weekend's partially rained-out event in Englishtown, N.J., on an incredible high. After unveiling his brand-new Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird in competition for the first time, Stevens peeled off a career-best lap of 6.840 seconds at 200.23 mph and grabbed the No. 2 position on the quickest qualifying field ever assembled. Then the rain came, but Stevens was still smiling.

The grin is still there this week as Stevens heads into the Texas Motorplex for the fourth annual Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts. Armed with a renewed boost of championship aspirations, Stevens is buoyed by the realization that he truly has one of the best cars in the Pro Stock class.

"I'm really glad we switched over to the new car," Stevens said. "It just seems to run much better down track. The other car launched hard and ran strong for most of the quarter-mile but this new one is just a bit more aerodynamic and it really shows at top speed.

"We'll be switching back to our Warren Johnson motor this week even though I ran my personal-best with the one we got from Mike Thomas. We had to use Mike's motor last week because we thought we'd be running Kurt Johnson in the first round of the Dominator Duel and, because of our agreement, we can't use the W.J. motor against Kurt. But since the Duel was rained out we'll switch back and save the other motor for Chicago."

Because of the rain out in New Jersey, the Holley Dominator Duel, which is a special event for the top eight qualifiers of the last year, was moved to June 3 in Chicago. Stevens is scheduled to race Kurt Johnson in the opening round with Kurt enjoying lane choice.

"It's great to know that both motors are so strong," Stevens said. "I feel like we can compete with anyone at any time now. I haven't run a Warren motor with this new car yet so it'll be interesting to see what happens this weekend. We might break all the records.

"Dallas is an excellent track because it's all concrete and very smooth. At the same time, you have to be very careful there because the groove is very narrow. There is no room for error. If you get out of the groove even for a second, you have to abort the run because otherwise you'll be into the wall. I've seen more crashes there than any where else. We can't have that because this is a big weekend for us. We'll have lots of friends and Valspar people at this race so it should be fun. I can't wait to get started."

The elimination rounds of the fourth annual Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts will air from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT), May 28 on TNN.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson