Richmond Rickie Smith; full of surprises

Dinwiddie, Va. - - In what was the quickest field in NHRA Pro Stock history - - from the elapsed time of 6.838 seconds for the number one qualifier to the 6.905 second pass for the ...

Dinwiddie, Va. - - In what was the quickest field in NHRA Pro Stock history - - from the elapsed time of 6.838 seconds for the number one qualifier to the 6.905 second pass for the #16 and final qualifier - - Rickie Smith pulled a surprising upset over top qualifier Warren Johnson in the opening round of eliminations of the NHRA moto1.net Nationals presented by Chevrolet.

Smith, 46, from King, N.C., who qualified 16th, took a .041 second advantage at the green. At the finish lights, Smith's KPK Motorsports Camaro tripped the beam in 6.890 seconds at 199.32 mph. Johnson, 56, from Buford, Ga., was never a serious factor, trailing the entire length of the Virginia Motorsports Park quarter mile. Johnson recorded a pass of 6.912 seconds at almost 200 mph in his losing effort.

"Good hit for the whole team. We started late this season. Kenny Koretsky (team owner) has given me the opportunity to drive and I want to make the most of effort for the whole team," said Smith.

"Against Warren (Johnson) it was two old dogs fighting each other.  He was
late.  I was late.  I just got to the other end first," Smith reflected after
the victory.  "This was a team builder"

The second round matched Smith's Camaro against the Firebird driven by Richie Stevens, 21, of New Orleans, La. Both drivers are known for quick reaction time - - the time between the green light and the car leaving the starting line. With the cars as close as they are in elapsed time, an advantage in reaction time can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Stevens, with a Warren Johnson-built engine, was out first at the green and led wire-to wire. Smith was coming strong on the top end of the track, but ran out of real estate. Stevens recorded a run of 6.937 seconds/197.57 mph to 6.940 seconds/198.82 mph for Smith.

"A little more track or a better reaction time and I might have had a chance. All sixteen drivers that qualify are capable of winning," said Smith about the close defeat. "This team got started after the season began but we're making up ground quickly. I can't wait for next race to get here."

The NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series moves next weekend (May 4-7) to Commerce, Ga., for the Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Atlanta Dragway about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Kenny Koretsky , Rickie Smith