Houston: Stevens gets third in qualifying

HOUSTON (Oct. 28) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens of the Valspar Refinish racing team ran a pair of impressive 6.9-second laps today at Houston Raceway Park as qualifying for the fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals concluded. But...

HOUSTON (Oct. 28) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens of the Valspar Refinish racing team ran a pair of impressive 6.9-second laps today at Houston Raceway Park as qualifying for the fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals concluded. But the 22-year-old from New Orleans couldn't improve on his incredible Friday night pass of 6.909 seconds at 197.71 mph and he will now open Race Day action out of the No. 3 position.

Stevens' impressive qualifying effort earned him lane choice over No. 14 qualifier Jeg Coughlin in Sunday's opening session. Coughlin, a 10-time national event winner who was crowned the 2000 Winston Champion at the last stop in Memphis, Tenn., could only manage a 6.956 at 197.28 mph here in Houston but still poses a formidable threat.

"He hasn't been showing it this weekend but he's the new champ," Stevens said. "This will be a tough race right off the bat but I'm pretty confident in our Valspar Pontiac. We've made four great laps down this track so in my mind we're halfway there. If I have four more good laps tomorrow, we'll be in the Winner's Circle.

"I'm having a lot of fun this weekend. This is our home track and we have a lot of friends and family here. Plus, some of the guys from Valspar are with us so maybe this home crowd will help me get a win. I know I have the car to get it done because Tommy and John (Utt, crewmen) have this track figured out. I just need to take care of my part of the deal, which is driving the car the best I can, and we'll have as good a chance as anyone."

The two men Stevens is chasing in the Winston championship points standings, Mark Pawuk and Troy Coughlin, both qualified below Stevens on the Race Day ladder. Troy, who is 52 points ahead of Stevens in sixth place, is the No. 11 qualifier. Pawuk, who has a 95-point edge over Stevens, qualified in fifth place.

"No matter what happens tomorrow I need to do better than those two guys," Stevens said. "The last three or four races have all been great chances for me to catch them and this race is no different. I just need to go out there and do my job and the points chase will take care of itself. I'm ready to go right now."

Same-day television coverage of the fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals will be divided into two shows on ESPN2. The first round of eliminations will air tomorrow from 2:30-4 p.m. (ET). The remainder of the elimination rounds will be broadcast later in the day from 7:30-10 p.m., with a rebroadcast at 1-3 p.m. (ET) Monday afternoon.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Mark Pawuk