DENVER (July 18) -- The National Hot Rod Association's youngest Pro Stock driver, 20-year-old Richie "The Kid" Stevens, knew he needed a perfect lap Sunday to advance past the first round of elimination racing at the 21st Annual Mopar Mile-High ...
DENVER (July 18) -- The National Hot Rod Association's youngest Pro Stock driver, 20-year-old Richie "The Kid" Stevens, knew he needed a perfect lap Sunday to advance past the first round of elimination racing at the 21st Annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals. After all, his opening round rival, Kurt Johnson, is second in the Winston points standings and had qualified third at this event with a pass of 7.355 seconds at 187.18 mph compared to Stevens' 14th best, 7.418-second, 185.05-mph qualifying effort.
To add to the anxiety he was feeling, Stevens watched three out of four cars ahead of him break down in the lane he had to race on, the last of which leaked oil on the launching pad prompting an extensive clean-up delay.
The end result saw Stevens push the envelope too hard and he gave away the race with a red-light violation for leaving the starting line before the green light was illuminated. Stevens' 0.308-second reaction time (0.400 is perfect) ended his day immediately and he went on to drift through the timers in 8.215 seconds at 122.88 mph against Johnson's 7.375-second lap at 186.36 mph.
"Another Round 1 loss," a dejected Stevens said. "This one was my fault. I staged the car too deep and jumped too soon. It just seemed like the whole world was against me that time. KJ's been running great and I was thinking about that. Then Darrell (Alderman) oils down the track. It just wasn't my day.
"I can't wait to get out of here and move on to the next race. This place was like a jinx to me. The only good news out of this whole weekend is that we qualified. Otherwise it was a disaster. I know I'll lose ground in the points and that's hard to swallow."