POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 5) -- A crowded field of 35 Pro Stock cars was pared down to the quickest 16 as qualifying for the 40th annual AutoZone Winternationals concluded Saturday evening at Pomona Raceway. The Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird of ...
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 5) -- A crowded field of 35 Pro Stock cars was pared down to the quickest 16 as qualifying for the 40th annual AutoZone Winternationals concluded Saturday evening at Pomona Raceway. The Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird of Richie "The Kid" Stevens successfully earned a spot in the elite group that will return tomorrow to fight for the season-opening race's title.
Stevens found the shortest route down the quarter-mile strip in the third qualifying session when he posted a 6.938-second pass at 197.91 mph. The elapsed time placed the 21-year-old from New Orleans into the No. 13 spot on the ladder and set up a first-round elimination showdown with the Jeg's Mail Order Oldsmobile of Troy Coughlin. Coughlin qualified fourth with a smooth lap of 6.895 seconds at 199.05 mph.
"Well we're in the show and that's always the first goal of any race weekend," Stevens said. "To be honest, I was hoping to be running a little quicker with these new Warren Johnson powerplants. But we just haven't got the car dialed in to handle the power yet.
"The car continues to get better every round and that's very encouraging. It sort of seemed like we were in the wrong lane every time up there. When the right side looked fast, we were on the left side and vice versa. That's just racing luck.
"It's great that the Valspar Refinish car will be battling tomorrow. We've got a couple of hundred Valspar people from the West Coast joining us and I hope to put on a good show for them. It'll be exciting for me to have a bunch of fans up there in the stands.
"I'll definitely have to be on my game right from the start. Both of those Jegs cars have been running strong this weekend and Troy is a great driver who usually doesn't make any mistakes. Maybe I'll get some racing luck to come my way."
Elimination action will be televised tomorrow on ESPN2 from 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EST.