Madison: Richie Stevens Jr Saturday summary

STEVENS EKES OUT A NO. 14 IN GATEWAY QUALIFYING MADISON, Ill. (June 24, 2006) - Richie Stevens Jr. faced a tough reality going into today's final round of qualifications for the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway:...

STEVENS EKES OUT A NO. 14 IN GATEWAY QUALIFYING

MADISON, Ill. (June 24, 2006) - Richie Stevens Jr. faced a tough reality going into today's final round of qualifications for the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway: nail down a spot in the 16-car Pro Stock field or pack up the trailer and head home.

The New Orleans native, who was not in the field after three attempts, was all smiles after recording a run of 6.727 seconds at 205.04 mph in that round to place the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T in the No. 13 position for Sunday's eliminations - much better than the alternative.

Stevens credits teamwork: "I knew it was there (the performance), we just had to get it. Everybody pulled together here, and David (Nickens, crew chief) and the Mopar/Valspar guys got it done. My crew guys Rick (Pearson) and Dustin (Stricker) did a hell of a job. We got it down the track and got in there," he said. "It ended up being a pretty good run for the session (ninth quickest). We needed it. We couldn't take a DNQ right now. It's getting to the mid-point of the season and you want to get as many points as you can."

Stevens' first three qualifying efforts resulted in passes of 6.793/203.83, 11.748/74.12, and a 6.770/204.29.

"I was nervous," he said of the drama. "I don't like that stuff. I'd rather just get it in on Friday and work on the tune-up on Saturday. Coming into the final round not qualified is a nail-bitter, so it's a good thing my dad (Richie Sr.) wasn't here because he doesn't have any nails left."

Stevens can now focus on race day. "We're in the show and we look forward to going some rounds tomorrow. We obviously don't have lane choice first round, but I'll try and cut a good light and get us a quick win. We've gone rounds the past two races (Chicago and Englishtown), so we'll try and keep that going."

He faces Jim Yates in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.

-dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr.