RICHIE STEVENS SET FOR "HOMETOWN" ADVANTAGE IN HOUSTON HOUSTON, Texas (April 5, 2005) - Although New Orleans is a four-hour drive away, Houston Raceway is the closest venue to the "Big Easy" hosting an NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event. And...
RICHIE STEVENS SET FOR "HOMETOWN" ADVANTAGE IN HOUSTON
HOUSTON, Texas (April 5, 2005) - Although New Orleans is a four-hour drive away, Houston Raceway is the closest venue to the "Big Easy" hosting an NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event. And New Orleans native Richie Stevens Jr. says he's feeling the pressure of having to perform before a crowd of his friends and family who'll be attending this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals to support him.
Stevens, who is ninth in the Pro Stock point standings following three events in his first season with Don Schumacher Racing driving the Team Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus R/T, is focused nonetheless and would like to add a win to his exceptional season record so far. In each of the first three races, Stevens has posted career-best speeds and elapsed times, and earned the No. 1 qualifying spot in the second race in Phoenix.
"Houston has always been one of my favorite tracks, for one reason because it is close to home," says the 26-year-old who won four times from 1998 to 2001 before cutting short his career to take care of the family business while his dad Richie Sr. underwent successful open-heart surgery. "It's where I raced in my first drag race ever (he was runner-up in the '96 SuperBowl in an IHRA Pro Stock car). You get a lot of fans, a lot of friends who come up from New Orleans. Besides wanting to do well for your sponsors Mopar and Valspar and for Don Schumacher, you get a lot of pressure from your family and friends.
"But I'm looking forward to it. I always have a great time in Houston and I think we should do pretty well."
Crew chief Bob Glidden, a 10-time Pro Stock champion, has been working non-stop to increase the performance of Stevens' Dodge as well as teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.'s Jeg's Mail Order/Mopar Dodge. "Bob's been working really hard on the motors back in the shop and getting everything ready," Stevens says. "And we have a brand-new car that we're getting ready to test pretty soon. We'll be able to compare it to the car we have and learn some new things for the future.
"I think we're looking good. The season has been going well so far. I'm more than happy with the results of the first three races, and I think everybody else is also. Another weekend all together learning things should help us proceed forward.
"I want to go out here in Houston and not do what we did in Gainesville," he says of his making the field at the last race in the final qualifying session. "I'd like to go out on Friday in either the first or second session and qualify and get into the field pretty strong. Stretching it out to the last run like we did in Gainesville (Fla.) puts a lot of stress on everybody. I'm already going to have extra pressure with all the family and friends here, so I'd like to qualify well on Friday, if possible. That's one of my main goals. On Sunday, it would be great to go rounds and hopefully get a win. I've never won in Houston.
"Houston is a track where most times Pro Stockers run exceptionally well. The weather usually cooperates with us. It's supposed to be kind of cool on Friday for that night-time session, so we'll probably have some quick elapsed times in the mid-6.60s, and maybe even get down to the low .60s and run 207-208 mph."