STEVENS K.O.'s K.J., ADVANCES TO SECOND ROUND TOPEKA, Kan. (May 29, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. and the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus Pro Stock car were off to a spectacular start at the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals today, when the No. 14 ...
STEVENS K.O.'s K.J., ADVANCES TO SECOND ROUND
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 29, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. and the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus Pro Stock car were off to a spectacular start at the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals today, when the No. 14 qualifier K.O.'d K.J. (Kurt Johnson) in the first round of final eliminations on a holeshot advantage that sent the No. 3 qualifier packing.
Richie scorched the starting lights with a .047 reaction time to Johnson's .084 and held the advantage down the entire quarter-mile, taking the win light with a slower 6.815/202.67 to Johnson's quicker but losing 6.781/203.86. The margin of victory was just a blink of an eye or 11 inches.
The second round presented a bigger challenge for the 26-year-old New Orleans native in his first season with Don Schumacher Racing and tuner Bob Glidden.
Stevens had lane choice over Greg Stanfield, but Stevens' day was over instantly when the car veered to the left at the launch, nearly brushing the wall, as Stevens shut it off to post a losing 14.011/60.77 to Stanfield's winning 6.841/202.30.
"It just blew the tires off," said Stevens. "It completely annihilated the tires, not even 20 feet off the line. It was just a bad run. It was kind of going left to begin with, and when it started shaking the tires it just went hard left and it wasn't going anywhere.
"I guess the lane of choice earlier today in the first round was the left lane, as all the cars that had lane choice chose the left lane. So we came up there in the second round and we took that lane.
"It was unfortunate. We were the first pair down, and when you're first pair you don't get to watch anyone else, so we didn't have anybody to judge from. I guess it kind of bit us there. We should have probably gone with the right lane, but hindsight is 20-20, like they say."
Stanfield was definitely there for the taking. "He ran a 6.84," said Stevens. "I knew we could have run at least a .81 or .80. We probably could have beat him. He got me a little bit on the starting line, but I think we could have driven around him, but it wasn't our day."
Beating Kurt Johnson in the first round was clearly the highlight of Stevens' day. "Kurt's had my number for a long time, I think, and to leave on him and get the win by three thousandths of a second was pretty exciting. We were all pumped up after that."
He fell to eighth in the Pro Stock point standings, with 433 points. His teammate Jeg Coughlin, who lost in the first round, is in 10th with 393.
Next up is the CARQUEST NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill., on June 10-12, 2005.