Richie Stevens time for a win at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (April 24) -- Upstart Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens, the youngest pro winner in the 49-year history of the NHRA, has already reached his first goal of the 2000 season. He's raced well enough to position his eye-catching...

RICHMOND, Va. (April 24) -- Upstart Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens, the youngest pro winner in the 49-year history of the NHRA, has already reached his first goal of the 2000 season. He's raced well enough to position his eye-catching Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird solidly in the top 10 of the Winston points. Now the 21-year-old from New Orleans is ready to take the next step; "It's time for a win," Stevens said.

It was at Moto1.net Nationals a year ago that the third-year pro started an amazing performance streak. It all started in qualifying where Stevens laid down a national record lap of 6.861 seconds at 200.08 mph that not only made him the quickest driver in the world but also earned him membership into the exclusive Speed-Pro 200 mph Club. Eventually, he reached the finals of the event before settling for runner-up honors behind good friend Allen Johnson.

The dynamic outing at Virginia Motorsports Park, that positioned him in the top 10 of the points for good, was just the start of a great run for Team Valspar. Stevens raced to two more finals in a row, winning the Englishtown event outright for his second professional win. At that point, Stevens was third in the points and he never looked back, finishing a career-high fifth at the end of the year.

Now the team arrives in Virginia anxious to repeat the feat this Thursday through Sunday as the sixth annual running of the national event takes center stage.

"I think we've shown this year that the Valspar Pontiac has the horsepower to compete with anyone," Stevens said. "We've done everything but win so it's time to get that done. The team needs a little momentum so we can all get our heads back in the game. We have a long streak of races ahead of us now and I'd love to kick it off with a win.

"When I started racing in the NHRA I was driving for Shawn Collins and he lived in Richmond so I have more data on this track than any other track we go to. We ran so many test laps there I could probably find my way to that track in the dark. That should really work to our favor."

Stevens is coming off a stellar performance in Houston where, after nine tries, he finally beat his mentor and engine provider Warren Johnson.

"Maybe beating W.J. was the start of a new lucky streak," Stevens said. "As good as everything else is going for us it seems like the only thing missing is luck. We got to the finals here last year. Now it's time to take that final step and win. We're ready."

The elimination rounds of the sixth annual Moto1.net Nationals presented by Chevrolet will be broadcast from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT) Sunday, April 30 on TNN.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Allen Johnson