Houston Richie Stevens Saturday Report

Team Valspar ready for title run HOUSTON (April 10) - His mission was clear when he arrived at the 12th Annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil - run fast in qualifying, run faster on race day when the money is on the table and then win...

Team Valspar ready for title run

HOUSTON (April 10) - His mission was clear when he arrived at the 12th Annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil - run fast in qualifying, run faster on race day when the money is on the table and then win his first race of the year. So far Richie "The Kid" Stevens, the driver of the Valspar Refinish Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, is right on schedule to accomplish his pre-stated goals.

With all four rounds of professional qualifying in the books, the pride of New Orleans finds himself in position to make a concerted run at the event's title when Sunday's elimination rounds begin at 11 a.m. at Houston Raceway Park.

Steven's best run of the weekend occurred in Round 3 when he posted a 6.971-second lap at 197.45 mph. That lap was good enough for the 13th place on the qualifying ladder and sets up a first round elimination showdown with George Marnell, who qualified fourth with a run of 6.939 seconds at 198.44 mph.

"That final lap was a real lesson for us and it's one that we'll definitely use tomorrow," Stevens said. "The left side of the track was greasy and we left with the rpm's at too high of a setting, which caused us to spin like crazy. We finally found the limit that this track can hold and that will really help us tomorrow morning when the real racing starts.

"I'm sure we'll be right back in the same lane because Marnell has lane choice over us and he'll probably pick the right side. That's where all the quick times have happened. But I really feel like we know what to do on the left side so we should be ready to give him all he can handle.

"The Valspar Refinish Pontiac has been extremely consistent this weekend. That's always a good sign. I was just thinking that the last time we raced George Marnell we ended up winning the race (at the Winston Finals in Nov. 1998.) This time around he's got a lot more horsepower but maybe our lucky 13 starting spot will push us over the top and give us the win."

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Series NHRA
Drivers George Marnell