DALLAS (Oct. 18) -- A runner-up finish at an NHRA national event represents a high point in most driver's careers. But for Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens a second-place finish like the one he recorded at the NHRA's...
DALLAS (Oct. 18) -- A runner-up finish at an NHRA national event represents a high point in most driver's careers. But for Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens a second-place finish like the one he recorded at the NHRA's last stop in Memphis, Tenn. is merely a source of aggravation and motivation.
Now, as the tour turns its attention to the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals, which begin Thursday and continue through Sunday at the Texas Motorplex, a still-smarting Stevens plans to exact his revenge on the entire Pro Stock bracket.
"I still can't believe I lost that race on a holeshot," said Stevens about a reaction-time deficit that led to his final-round loss. "To lose a race because the other guy has a better car is one thing, but to lose it because he beat me off the tree really makes me mad.
"I really feel like I let everyone down that worked so hard to get me through five rounds in one day. Then, just as I started getting over it, I have to relive the whole thing on TV. I heard it from everybody all day long (Sunday) when they replayed the race. I have to make up for it now. Dallas is the next race so that's where I'm going to have to bring it all back together."
Perhaps Stevens is being a tad too harsh on himself. The 21-year-old from New Orleans has not only bettered all the marks he set during his rookie season of 1998 - he has shattered them. With three races left on the slate, Stevens has registered one national event win in four final-round appearances. He has 21 elimination-round wins in 18 races and has reset both his career-best elapsed time (6.861 seconds) and top speed (200.08 mph.) Additionally, he has held the No. 5 spot in the Winston championship points standings for eight races.
"The Valspar Pontiac has been running great again just like it was early on in the season. We were the No. 1 qualifier two races ago in Topeka and then we went to the finals in Memphis. If we stay steady like this we have a real good chance of moving up a spot or two in the points and winning another race.
"Right now, the only thing holding us back is me. I need a confidence booster and I could get one in Dallas. We've been there three times now and have always done real well. We always qualify high up the ladder and go a few rounds at least on Race Day. The track is concrete all the way down and the groove is real narrow so it takes a lot of driving to do well there. It will be a good place to rebuild my confidence. After all the noise I've been hearing since Memphis you can bet I'll be ready to go."
ESPN2 will carry tape-delayed qualifying highlights of the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals beginning at 1:30 p.m. EST on Oct. 24. Same-day television coverage of final eliminations start at 5 p.m. EST, also on ESPN2.