Indianapolis: Stevens improves, braces for race

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 3) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens stayed consistent and quick Sunday in his Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird and successfully secured the No. 7 position on the elimination ladder of the prestigious U.S. Nationals.

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 3) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens stayed consistent and quick Sunday in his Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird and successfully secured the No. 7 position on the elimination ladder of the prestigious U.S. Nationals. It's the third time the sport's youngest Pro Stock winner has competed at this historic race and he is now a perfect 3-for-3 in his qualifying efforts.

Stevens, a 21-year-old from New Orleans who won his first NHRA race at the age of 19, used the fifth and final qualifying session of the U.S. Nationals to post his best lap, a 6.998 at 195.34 mph, which earned him a top-half starting point. He will now open Monday's elimination rounds with lane choice over good friend Tom Martino, whose best lap of the weekend was a 7.010 at 195.85 mph.

"We're in the show and looking pretty good in the top half of the field," Stevens said. "I don't know how I could ask for much more than that. We made four consistent runs and they were all very close to the same as far as the way our engine looked on the computer graphs. We learned in Seattle a few weeks ago that consistency like that can win us the race. I like the way things are shaping up for us.

"I feel very confident in the Valspar Pontiac and I like the way I have been driving the car this weekend. I'm in a very comfortable zone and I've been hitting good lights. It would be great for all of us on this team if I can go some rounds tomorrow and put myself in a position to win this race.

"We have a big group of friends and sponsors here and they've all been having some fun because we're in a good mood and the car is running strong. Indy is our Super Bowl and it would be awesome if we could find away to do something big tomorrow."

Stevens is currently eighth in the Winston championship points standings. A win tomorrow could lift him as high as fifth place.

Same-day television coverage of the elimination rounds of the 46th annual U.S. Nationals will air Monday on TNN. Qualifying and first-round action will be broadcast from noon-2 p.m. ET with final eliminations airing from 5-7 p.m. ET.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tom Martino