St. Louis: Team Mopar Saturday summary

RICHIE STEVENS JR., DON SCHUMACHER RACING'S TEAM MOPAR/VALSPAR DODGE STRATUS R/T: With only two qualifying sessions fully completed for the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals because of rain, and both under hot and humid conditions today (only...

RICHIE STEVENS JR., DON SCHUMACHER RACING'S TEAM MOPAR/VALSPAR DODGE STRATUS R/T:

With only two qualifying sessions fully completed for the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals because of rain, and both under hot and humid conditions today (only seven pairs of Pro Stock cars made runs on Friday before the event was called for the day), Richie Stevens Jr. failed to qualify for the second time this season.

In today's first round, Stevens posted a 6.750-second pass at 204.05 mph, which placed him in the 16th position. Before he ran the final qualifying session, he was bumped out by Larry Morgan. In the less-desirable right lane for that pass, Stevens veered to the right at the hit of the throttle. Losing ground, he crossed the finish stripe in 6.804 seconds at 204.45 mph and was out of the field.

"We had two runs of qualifying just like we did in Houston and it benefited us then (No. 6 qualifier), but it didn't benefit us here," said Stevens. "This morning, in the better left lane, we didn't make a great run. It had a broken lash cap on the engine, which we found when we came back. Not that that would have made the difference, but it definitely hurt the performance of the car.

"We came back for the second round and we were not in the better lane. The left lane was obviously the better one, and we just didn't make a good run. It shook the tires down low and that was the end of it. I just stayed in it; you just never know what might happen. I knew it wasn't going anywhere.

"There were only two or three guys I was worried about bumping us out and one was Larry, and he was the one who got in. He stuck it on that last hit and made a good run. Actually, he didn't really bump us out, we did it to ourselves. We just didn't make a good run either round. And it bit us here this weekend.

"You get a taste of doing well last week (semifinalist in Atlanta) and you come here and you go from hero to zero real quick. It's just frustrating. We tested well here last week and we thought we might have a little bit of an advantage over other people coming to this track. It wasn't my weekend."

Next up for Stevens is the O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway, May 18-20.

ALLEN JOHNSON, MOPAR/J&J RACING DODGE STRATUS R/T: Allen Johnson drove the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T into the sixth qualifying position for the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals today, in only two full qualifying sessions held because of rain (seven pairs of Pro Stock cars did get down the track on Friday before the event was called for that day).

Johnson's 6.716-second pass at 205.26 mph came in his second attempt and moved him from 14th into sixth. His earlier run produced a 6.741/204.76.

"This track just bit us here," said Johnson. "We didn't make a good run this morning. We just really didn't know where to go this afternoon and, of course, it bit Richie, and him being first (in the staging lanes to qualify) helped me. It's one of those things. If I'd have been first it may have been me getting booted.

"We just have to do the best we can on Sunday, and regroup on Richie's car for Bristol."

Stevens faces Larry Morgan, who bumped out Stevens, in first round of eliminations on Sunday. "I can get him back for him," said Johnson.

-credit: tm/dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr. , Larry Morgan , Allen Johnson