STEVENS DRIVES INTO THE QUARTERFINALS IN MEMPHIS Richie Stevens Jr. drove the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T into the Pro Stock second round at the O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals today and moved into ninth in the overall NHRA POWERade...
STEVENS DRIVES INTO THE QUARTERFINALS IN MEMPHIS
Richie Stevens Jr. drove the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T into the Pro Stock second round at the O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals today and moved into ninth in the overall NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock standings.
Stevens easily dismissed V. Gaines in the opening round of eliminations when Gaines red-lighted. Stevens posted a solid .045 reaction time (.000 is perfect) and clocked in at 6.655 seconds at 207.24 mph.
An even better reaction time of .012 in the second round against Dave Connolly (.021 for Connolly) didn't help, as Connolly, with lane choice, switched lanes at the last minute, relegating Stevens to what had turned into the less-desirable left lane. A strong swerve at the hit of the throttle slowed Stevens to a 6.741/206.89 pass at the finish line, while Connolly took the win with a 6.632/208.04.
"That was the problem," said Stevens of the lane change. "He swapped them on us at the last minute, but that's what lane choice was. Pretty much all weekend the right lane was not favored and this morning it seemed like in the first round they were pretty identical. Larry Morgan went a 6.63 in the right lane and I think low ET for the round was a .62, which was in the left lane. That's pretty equal.
"Being last pair out there in the second round definitely hurt us. If we'd have been the first or second pair, we probably would have still been in the right lane, but that's the way it goes.
"Not a bad weekend. We got around V. in the points, and I did pretty good driving, so I feel a little bit more confident leaving here. And we'll go to Dallas where I am the defending champion and hopefully do the same thing we did last year."
As for what happened, "It spun the tires right down low. We watched the three guys ahead of us do the same thing. Jeggie (Coughlin) had the only car in the left lane that made a clean run, but he was the first one down. Both Max (Naylor) and Larry (Morgan) both got out of shape.
"When we left the starting line I was a little bit ahead of him. I kind of looked over and at that point, once I went left and right and shook, all I did was pretty much stay in it hoping he might break. There wasn't a chance we were going to get around him unless something like that happened. But, we'll just go to the next one.
A.J. MAKES EARLY EXIT IN MEMPHIS
Allen Johnson was poised for a strong performance in the opening round of Pro Stock eliminations at the O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park after qualifying No. 6. But that round against Larry Morgan proved to be his exit pass, as Morgan defeated him with a 6.636-second lap at 207.11 mph to Johnson's 6.668/207.05. Johnson posted a quicker reaction time, however, of .037 (.000 is perfect) to Morgan's .051.
"The car just spun (the tires) very hard, moved to the right off the starting line, and just spun up really bad in second gear," explained Johnson. He made the run of the century like he always does against us and unfortunately, it got us.
"The Mopar/J&J Dodge didn't change much from yesterday. We went up there and just tightened all the nuts.
"We'll go to Dallas, we'll regroup, stay our course. We're fourth in the Countdown to Four. It's not like we lost a lot of ground, but we just can't keep giving away stuff and continue to be up there."