LAS VEGAS (April 7) -- The beginning of the inaugural NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals officially christened The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday with two rounds of professional qualifying. Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens did his...
LAS VEGAS (April 7) -- The beginning of the inaugural NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals officially christened The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday with two rounds of professional qualifying. Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens did his best to help break in the facility, rocketing to the top half of the class in his Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird after a stout 7.077-second, 192.85-mph pass in the day's second qualifying session.
"The car went straight down the track," Stevens said. "The surface is so smooth that I didn't feel one bump the whole way down. That just shows what this car can do when we're hitting on all cylinders and we can get our power onto the track. My hat's off to the Valspar crew for giving me a perfect car once again.
"If the weather tomorrow is like it was today, then I believe that time will keep me in the top half of the field, which is exactly where we need to be at the start of Race Day. It got pretty hot out here in the desert today and both sessions tomorrow happen during the day so I think it'll be hard for a bunch of people to improve."
Stevens is right behind engine supplier Warren Johnson on the opening day qualifying ladder in the No. 4 spot. Johnson ran a 7.075-second pass at 196.33 mph. The early pole is held by Ron Krisher who posted an impressive pass of 7.048 seconds at 195.42 mph in Round 2.
"Our W.J. horsepower is definitely there," Stevens said. "The car was pulling all the way down the track and through the lights. It's good that we qualified so high tonight because now we can start to work on our Sunday tune-up. Hopefully, we'll be one step ahead of our opponents."
Earlier in the day Stevens used his first lap down the smooth quarter mile to post a 13th best 7.218-second pass at 191.48 mph. Like many of his peers, the lap amounted to little more than a baseline run as the Valspar crew tried to figure out the nuances of a brand new track.
"The first lap at a new track is basically a guess," Stevens said. "We spun the tires a little but at least we got enough info out of the run to prepare for the night session. I knew Tommy (Utt, crew chief) would figure this place out faster than anybody else and I was right. I'm already looking forward to Sunday."
Same-day elimination round coverage of the inaugural NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals will be aired from 10:30 p.m. to midnight (ET and PT), Sunday on TNN.