Las Vegas: Richie Stevens Jr preview

VEGAS ALWAYS A FAVORITE FOR RICHIE STEVENS LAS VEGAS (April 14, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. is having an "eclectic" kind of season driving the Team Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus R/T Pro Stock for Don Schumacher Racing. He set career-best...

VEGAS ALWAYS A FAVORITE FOR RICHIE STEVENS

LAS VEGAS (April 14, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. is having an "eclectic" kind of season driving the Team Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus R/T Pro Stock for Don Schumacher Racing. He set career-best numbers in the first three races, sat on the pole at the second event in Phoenix, barely qualified for the fourth race in Houston while experiencing mechanical gremlins, then fouled out in the first round of eliminations there.

The good news is, of course, that he qualified for each event so far - not an easy task in one of the toughest classes of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series - especially for a driver who hasn't competed regularly in the class since 2002. The 26-year-old New Orleans native was a young star on the rise back then until he cut short his Pro Stock career to take care of the family business while his dad Richie Sr. underwent successful heart surgery.

He's back full-time and eager to take to the quarter-mile this weekend at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and find the winning groove again, in a car tuned by 10-time Pro Stock champion Bob Glidden.

"Vegas has always been one of my favorite races," he says. "I love going to the city for one, and the track is always excellent. It's not one of the quickest races in Pro Stock, but it's definitely one of the most interesting.

"We're coming off a tough weekend. Houston was one of those weekends where nothing seemed to go right. We had a miss in the car, we hurt one engine and had a red-light on Sunday. Not really the typical weekend that we would hope for. Hopefully it will turn around in Vegas and maybe we'll have a little luck, in the casino and on the race track.

"Every season is going to have its ups and downs and hopefully we've got one of the downs out of the way," he says of the last race in Texas. "Unfortunately it was Houston, which was my home race (closest national event to New Orleans), and I hated it to be there. If we can get our bad luck out of the way sooner than later, it's definitely better."

Through the first three races, Stevens had maintained a spot in the top-10 in points and has since slipped to 12th. "I dropped out of the top 10 which I really didn't want to do, but we can change that in one race. All we can do is go out there, qualify good in Vegas, go a couple of rounds on Sunday, and that should put us right back into the top 10.

"That's our plan: to go out and have a positive weekend rather than a negative one, turn it around, get back on the road, get some wins, go some rounds and gain some points."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr. , Don Schumacher