Joliet: Team Mopar Saturday summary

Richie Stevens Jr. piloted the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T to four solid passes during Pro Stock qualifying for the Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 NHRA Nationals, ending up No. 5 in the 16-car field. Stevens set his quickest pass in Friday...

Richie Stevens Jr. piloted the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T to four solid passes during Pro Stock qualifying for the Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 NHRA Nationals, ending up No. 5 in the 16-car field.

Stevens set his quickest pass in Friday night's session, a 6.645-second lap at 206.83 mph. His other three included a 6.669/206.51 in the first round, followed by a 6.660/207.40 and a 6.672/206.61 today.

He will face Greg Stanfield in first round of Sunday's eliminations.

"We ran really good," said Stevens, 10th in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock rankings. "I think we are finally getting a handle on the problem we were having with the car in the clutch department. And we made four really good runs during qualifying this weekend. It was probably top 10 on the page every run. That's what we need. We need the consistency to go out here and win rounds, and I think that's what we're knocking on the door with.

"We qualified fifth, which gets us lane choice tomorrow. I don't really think that matters out there. The lanes are pretty equal at this track. They always do a good job here with the track, but it's nice to have lane choice anyway.

"We'll go out there and try to go some rounds tomorrow and try to keep our hopes alive for the top eight (in the Countdown to the Championship). Mark (Ingersoll, crew chief) did a great job. I think we were fifth low for the round just now. Last round we were fourth quickest for the round, so the car's running good and I've been driving pretty decent.

"I'm going to try to buckle down tomorrow and get some good lights (reaction times), and see if we can go some rounds and gain some points. We need to get back in this game. Allen and I are on different sides of the ladder. It would be nice if we can go out there and pull off one of those deals like Summit does and get two blue cars in the final."

Driving the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T, Allen Johnson shot to the top of the field in the first qualifying session for the Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 NHRA Nationals and stayed there through the ensuing three rounds, landing in the No. 2 spot.

Johnson first recorded a 6.660-second lap at 207.18 mph, placing him third, then followed that with a 6.626/207.56 in the Friday night attempt, good for No. 2. In today's two rounds, which were also part of the King Demon Crown special event, Johnson registered a 6.658/207.43 and finally a slow 8.213/114.31. In this last pass against Greg Stanfield, he was also eliminated from the King Demon Crown competition.

"We made three great runs in qualifying," said Johnson. "Got the track figured out. Mark (Ingersoll, crew chief) is doing a great job with the J&J Racing Dodge Stratus, and Dad (Roy) has got the tune-up figured out. We're bad to the bone, if we can just get down the race track."

As for the mishap in the last attempt, "Transmission," he said. "There's a thing called dead-heading. It happens about one in every 100,000 runs. It's just a freak deal where all the stars are aligned, and it happened in that run. Just freak bad luck.

"That will never happen hopefully again for another year. Everybody experiences it every now and then and it just happened to happen on that run. We had the best car out here today and we were the one to beat."

Johnson faces Dave Connolly in the first round of Sunday's eliminations.

-credit: mopar/dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr. , Greg Stanfield , Allen Johnson , Dave Connolly