STEVENS HOPING FOR BEST AFTER QUALIFYING NO. 11 AT INDY
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 4, 2005) - One week ago Richie Stevens Jr. was preparing to leave his New Orleans home to escape the path of Hurricane Katrina, and now after a long journey to Indianapolis, he has qualified No. 11 for the prestigious 51st annual U.S. Nationals.
The first-year Don Schumacher Racing driver steered the Team Mopar/Valspar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus R/T Pro Stock car to five consistent quarter-mile passes for this weekend's NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.
Stevens' best qualifying effort came Saturday night, when he posted a 6.748-second run at 203.83 mph. He also recorded a 6.754/203.95, a 6.801/203.03, a 6.754/204.08 and a final qualifying effort of 6.777/203.68 in the fifth session.
"We made some good runs," said the New Orleans native. "I wish we could be in the top half, but I don't really think lane choice will be a big factor tomorrow. I think both lanes are pretty equal. We've run good times in both lanes. We haven't been on top of the page all weekend, but at least we've gotten to where we are consistent."
"It's pretty much anybody's race tomorrow. It will definitely be a driver's race," he added. "We should be all right, we should go some rounds. It would be good for me just to clear my head of the stuff going on (in New Orleans). Now we'll just go into it and hope for the best."
"He only ran about a hundredth (of a second) quicker than us, which can be made up at the starting line," Stevens said of his first-round opponent Larry Morgan in Monday's Pro Stock eliminations.
NOTE: Richie Stevens' longtime sponsor Valspar has also been impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The company's "House of Kolor" Automotive Refinish plant in Pinckneyville, Miss., received structural damage during the storm. Valspar has been supplying its employees and the community with water, generators, and non-perishable foods for the relief effort.