STEVENS JR. RACES TO QUARTERFINALS AT GATEWAY, MAKES MOVE IN STANDINGS MADISON, Ill. (June 25, 2006) - Richie Stevens Jr., driver of the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T, made some moves today in the Pro Stock class by reaching the ...
STEVENS JR. RACES TO QUARTERFINALS AT GATEWAY, MAKES MOVE IN STANDINGS
MADISON, Ill. (June 25, 2006) - Richie Stevens Jr., driver of the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T, made some moves today in the Pro Stock class by reaching the quarterfinals at the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.
He gained two spots in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock standings, is now in 11th, and has made it to at least the quarterfinal round in three straight races (first time since Topeka, Kan., Joliet, Ill., Englishtown, N.J., in 2005).
No. 14 qualifier Stevens matched up against No. 3 qualifier Jim Yates in the first round of eliminations and grabbed the victory with an elapsed time of 6.771-seconds at 204.11 mph to Yates' 6.777/204.05. The strong run gave Stevens lane choice for the quarterfinal against eventual winner Mike Edwards, but the New Orleans native was beat off the line (.042 reaction time for Stevens, .024 for Edwards), giving up a holeshot win to Edwards, as he crossed the finish stripe in 6.754 seconds at 204.70 mph to Edwards' winning but slower 6.761/204.70. The margin of victory was .011 of a second.
"I wanted that win right there," said Stevens, "but I was a little slow on the tree and he nailed his light. We should have won that race, and I feel like I let David (Nickens, crew chief) down because he gave me a car to win."
Despite the holeshot loss, Stevens is very encouraged by the recent round wins. "It's getting us closer to the top 10, and had we gone another round we would have gotten in there, but we are definitely making big improvements here in the Team Mopar/Valspar pits," he said. "David and Terry (Adams, assistant crew chief) are getting this thing turned around. We made two good runs today and it feels good."
Stevens is just 17 points out of the top 10.
Next up for Stevens is the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway (Denver), July 14-16.