Dallas Richie Stevens Qualifying Report

Transmission problems slow Stevens DALLAS (Oct. 22) -- Team Valspar ended the opening day of professional qualifying for the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex with an usual transmission problem that left them in the ...

Transmission problems slow Stevens

DALLAS (Oct. 22) -- Team Valspar ended the opening day of professional qualifying for the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex with an usual transmission problem that left them in the 23rd position on the qualifying ladder. Driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens and the other 15 cars outside the qualified field will now have two more opportunities to earn a spot on the ladder during Saturday's third and fourth rounds.

The transmission problem surfaced in the day's second session when Stevens launched normally and was well into his run before the Valspar car suddenly bogged down and noticeably slowed. "It was strange," Stevens said. "Everything was normal until I was shifting from second to third gear. Then, instead of grabbing like it should, it seems like it just went straight into fifth gear. It felt just like it would feel if you did that in a normal car. It was a very heavy feeling like I was pushing a load of sand down the track.

"When the car does that it tells me that we have a problem with the transmission. I hope that's what it is because that's something we can easily fix. We have a spare transmission on the truck and we can just put it right in there and be ready to go. If it's not the transmission it could be a whole list of things.

"We need to figure this out tonight before we leave the track because everyone is telling us that a cold front is blowing through here tonight and I think tomorrow's session will be super-fast. I want to be totally ready to go when it's our turn to run."

Stevens opened with the day's seventh-best lap of 7.017 seconds at 196.59 mph but he knew the time wouldn't hold a spot in the field for long.

"Everyone was just getting a read on the track in Round 1," Stevens said. "We were spinning a lot ourselves and that probably killed our time a little bit. I predict the bump (final qualifying spot) will be a 6.95 by the time qualifying is over. It might even be lower than that. Hopefully we can earn a spot."

As it stands now Stevens will have to run quicker than 6.969 seconds to get into the field.

ESPN2 will carry tape-delayed qualifying highlights of the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals beginning at 1:30 p.m. EST on Oct. 24. Same-day television coverage of final eliminations start at 5 p.m. EST, also on ESPN2.

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Series NHRA