ENglishtown: Stevens sensational in semifinal showing

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (Sept. 9) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens came up a little short in his quest to defend the title of the Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals, but his sensational semifinal showing still put smiles on the faces of ...

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (Sept. 9) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens came up a little short in his quest to defend the title of the Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals, but his sensational semifinal showing still put smiles on the faces of everyone in the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird pit.

Stevens was fast all weekend and it took a psychic .400 reaction time by his Round 3 opponent Greg Anderson to end his weekend. Even so, Stevens still had the quickest car of the four that made it to the semifinals but Anderson's light resulted in him coming up a fraction of a second short. The final numbers had Stevens covering the quarter-mile in 6.939 seconds at 197.05 mph behind Anderson's 6.947 at 198.00 mph.

"It's hard to beat a .400," Stevens said. "I thought for sure we had a car that could get to the finals for the second year in a row and the numbers agree with me. You just never factor in a .400 light by your opponent. If you gotta lose, I guess this is an okay way to do it because you can't blame any one on the team or anything on the car.

"This was a great two days of racing for us. The Valspar Pontiac was very quick and we won a couple of rounds. This really makes us feel good going into next weekend's race in Reading (Pa.) My confidence in this car is way up there right now."

The Valspar car was running on a string all day. Stevens opened with a 6.956-second, 197.68-mph win over veteran Bruce Allen, who trailed Stevens with a 7.044 at 196.36 mph. He then downed Brad Jeter with a 6.965-second pass at 196.62 mph in front of Jeter's 6.993-second lap at 197.71 mph.

Stevens' two elimination round wins and season-high No. 2 qualifying effort earned him enough Winston championship points to pad his seventh place ranking and put him within 59 points of a top-five berth.

"We gained a lot of points here," Stevens said. "One of our biggest goals this season was to finish higher than we did last year. We were fifth in 1999 so I'd definitely like to better that mark. After this weekend, I'm starting to believe that it's within reach. The guys in front of us are all awesome, but we're not to bad ourselves."

The rescheduled 31st annual Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals will be broadcast Sunday from 1-3 p.m. on ESPN.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Brad Jeter , Greg Anderson , Bruce Allen