Sears Point: Strange ride leaves Stevens on DNQ list

SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 5) – The NHRA’s Western Swing of races in Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma are known to make or break a team’s season. In the case of Pro Stock drag racer Richie “The Kid” Stevens of Team Valspar it seems to have done...

SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 5) – The NHRA’s Western Swing of races in Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma are known to make or break a team’s season. In the case of Pro Stock drag racer Richie “The Kid” Stevens of Team Valspar it seems to have done both.

Less than a week after winning the Northwest Nationals in Seattle, Stevens failed to qualify for the 13th annual Fram Autolite Nationals here at Sears Point Raceway. The uncharacteristic finish is just his second DNQ in the last 36 races but they both occurred during this year’s Western Swing.

“This Western Swing feels like the rollercoaster ride I took the other day at the amusement park,” said Stevens, a 21-year-old from New Orleans. “We were so down after not qualifying in Denver and then we turned around and won the next race. Then we came in here on such a high note and end up going home early. We’re just up and down and all over the place.

“I can’t say I came in here expecting to win again but I sure didn’t come in here expecting to not qualify. We switched back to our old car in Seattle and it ran so strong and consistent with our own motor under the hood. We kept everything the same, pretty much, because the tracks are about the same. But we never found a handle on this one until the last lap and by then it was too late.”

Stevens’ best lap of the weekend was a 7.017-second effort at 198.09 mph, which was four thousandths of a second off the pace necessary to make the field.

“You won’t find too many laps as close to perfect as the last one we had,” Stevens said. “It was just a little too hot to put up a good enough time. I guess I could sit here and complain about the track and how terrible it was but 18 other cars ran quicker than we did so I can’t make any excuses. We just didn’t get it done this weekend.”

The current Winston championship points standings show Stevens in seventh place but he will probably fall at least one spot tomorrow. “It seems like all the ground we gained in Seattle is being taken back right now,” Stevens said. “We’re pretty bummed out.”

Several hours of the 13th annual Autolite Nationals will be broadcast on ESPN2. Qualifying highlights will air tonight from 9:30-11 p.m. (ET)/6:30-8 p.m. (PT). Eliminations will be shown from 9:30p.m. - Midnight (ET)/6:30-9 p.m. (PT) Sunday with a rebroadcast from 1-3 p.m. (ET)/10 a.m. - noon (PT) on Wednesday, Aug. 9.

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Series NHRA