STEVENS CAN'T GET A BREAK, IS OUT IN FIRST ROUND IN SEATTLE KENT, Wash. (July 24, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. is beginning to feel like the Peanuts comic-strip character 'Pig Pen' who goes through life with a cloud over his head. Stevens has...
STEVENS CAN'T GET A BREAK, IS OUT IN FIRST ROUND IN SEATTLE
KENT, Wash. (July 24, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. is beginning to feel like the Peanuts comic-strip character 'Pig Pen' who goes through life with a cloud over his head.
Stevens has had an up-and-down first season with Don Schumacher Racing driving the Team Mopar/Valspar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus Pro Stock, having qualified for each event and in the top half nine times, including earning a pole position, and one runner-up and semifinal finish. But, following today's opening-round exit against Bob Panella Jr. at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, he's also had a string of first-round losses in the last three races.
With lane choice today, No. 6 qualifier Stevens took off first at the starting light, with a .023 reaction time (.000 is perfect) to Panella's .030, but it was Panella first at the finish line, recording a 6.731-second ET at 204.60 mph to Stevens' losing 6.772/205.54.
"We were just too aggressive, I think," said Stevens, the 2000 Pro Stock winner here. "The track was good, we went for it, it's nobody's fault. We thought the track could hold it, but I guess not. A number of cars got of out of shape out there, and it bit us and not Panella."
"That's the way it's been going all year, but I felt pretty good today going into this first round, and it just didn't fall our way."
"I was real level-headed and ready for it."
"You just want to have a good showing. We had two first-round losses in a row coming into this race, now we have three. It doesn't feel good to be done early on Sunday, especially when you're at a good track like this one here in Seattle."
"Hopefully it will turn around for us in Sonoma. I keep hoping that at the next race it will turn around; keep hoping and hoping. We've gone four in a row now hoping. It's got to come sooner or later, because being in a slump stinks. (Teammate Gary) Scelzi was in one early this year and he came out of it all right. And (other DSR teammate Whit) Bazemore's been in one. I guess I'm paying my dues right now and I don't want to."
"We had four good qualifying rounds and made our worst run of the weekend on Sunday. We can't find the luck. It keeps biting us."
Stevens dropped to eighth in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock point standings, and is now 30 points behind his teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in seventh (664-694).
Next up is the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., July 29-31.