Richmond; Semifinal finish lifts Richie ''Kid'' Stevens

RICHMOND, Va. (April 30) -- For the second year in a row the Valspar Refinish racing team of Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens recorded a fantastic weekend at Virginia Motorsports Park. A year ago, Stevens reached the finals of the ...

RICHMOND, Va. (April 30) -- For the second year in a row the Valspar Refinish racing team of Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens recorded a fantastic weekend at Virginia Motorsports Park. A year ago, Stevens reached the finals of the Moto1.net Nationals. This time around he raced through to the semifinals; thereby jumping two spots in the Winston championship points standings into the No. 5 position.

The 21-year-old pro from New Orleans bettered veteran drivers Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk and "Tricky" Rickie Smith before being edged out of his first final-round of the season by two-time Winston champ Jim Yates. The impressive showing lifted Stevens by Troy Coughlin and Ron Krisher to move him from seventh to fifth place in the points.

"This was a great weekend for the Valspar team," Stevens said. "We started the day from the No. 9 spot in the qualifying field and beat two great drivers. Reaching the semifinals makes for a pretty good outing in my book. Sure we want to win but Yates just has more power than we do right now. He deserved to take that one."

Yates and Stevens had a good side-by-side race for most of the quarter-mile until Yates slowly pulled away over the last few hundred feet. The scoreboard showed Yates winning in 6.909 seconds at 199.17 mph ahead of Stevens, who posted a 6.937-second lap at 198.15 mph.

"He jumped right in there and staged," Stevens said. "But I didn't let it bother me. I went through my normal routine but then rolled in a little deep. I didn't want to jump the light so I kind of waited on it. We left together (.001 apart) but he just pulled away.

"We jumped up two spots today and I feel like the team is on a roll as we head to Atlanta for next weekend's race. We're ready to go. Friday can't get here fast enough."

Stevens started the day with a dominating win over Pawuk, who had eliminated the Valspar car from the last event in Houston. On this day Stevens pounced out to huge starting line advantage - .428 seconds to Pawuk's .467-second start - and then drove away from his rival for an easy win. The final tally showed Stevens crossing in 6.902 seconds at 197.51 mph in front of Pawuk's 6.909-second, 198.50-mph lap.

Round 2 matched Stevens against Smith, who is know for the mental games he plays at the starting line to distract his opponents. Not falling for the traps, Stevens staged first while Smith waited until the last possible moment to stage his own car. The ploy didn't work as "The Kid" recorded another great launch, .459 seconds, and another great lap, 6.937 seconds at 197.57 mph, to blow by Smith, who recorded a slow .491-second start and a 6.940-second, 198.82-mph pass.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Troy Coughlin , Ron Krisher , Rickie Smith