ATLANTA (May 7) â€“ Like the majority of the underdogs in the opening round of the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals, Pro Stock driver Richie â€œThe Kidâ€ Stevens struggled to find a quick way down the less-than- desirable...
ATLANTA (May 7) – Like the majority of the underdogs in the opening round of the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals, Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens struggled to find a quick way down the less-than- desirable right-hand lane and lost in opening round of eliminations.
Stevens, who entered the race in fifth place but has now slipped to seventh, did what he could in his Round 1 tilt against points leader Jeg Coughlin. The two young pros left the starting line with identical .463-second reaction times. But the combination of Coughlin’s impressive horsepower and the preferred left-hand lane gave him an easy 6.941-second winning time at 197.71 mph against Stevens’ fading 7.135 at 170.36 mph.
“I couldn’t do much in that lane,” Stevens said. “Jeggy would have been tough anywhere but the few pros that did win in the right lane had a bunch of luck on their side. We stayed with him as long as possible but the car got loose at the other end and Jeggy was so far ahead that I just lifted. I knew I wouldn’t catch him and there was no point in jacking up the car.
“There’s not much to be excited about at this race. We did keep our streak of consecutive races alive (at 27) and we locked up a spot in the Holley Dominator Duel so there were a few bright spots. But every member of this team will tell you they wanted more out of this race. We reached the finals last year and we wanted to go one more round this time. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
The Valspar Corporation once again enjoyed double exposure at this race. Don Beverly drove Stevens’ back-up Pontiac Firebird into the No. 13 spot in the competitive field and raced Jim Yates in Round 1 with Yates taking the win.
“Don’s got that car completely dialed in now and it’s time for us to make the switch over,” Stevens said. “It’s a newer car and Don was working out the ‘new car’ problems you usually have for us. It looks as though it’s ready for action now. I think the more aerodynamic design will like this Warren Johnson horsepower we’re using a little better than the old car. I hope it takes us to the next level.
“We slipped in the points but not by much. Now we really have our work cut out for us at the next race in Englishtown, N.J. We won that event last year so I need to defend my title for the team and for Valspar.”
The elimination rounds of the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals will be broadcast today from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT) on TNN. They will be rebroadcast at midnight.