NO. 14 QUALIFIER STEVENS TAKES 'ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN ON SUNDAY' ATTITUDE INTO HOUSTON ELIMINATIONS BAYTOWN, Texas (April 1, 2006) - Following the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., where the No. 12 qualifier took home the Pro Stock title, No....
NO. 14 QUALIFIER STEVENS TAKES 'ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN ON SUNDAY' ATTITUDE INTO HOUSTON ELIMINATIONS
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 1, 2006) - Following the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., where the No. 12 qualifier took home the Pro Stock title, No. 14 qualifier for the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals Richie Stevens Jr. knows anything can happen on Sunday.
While the New Orleans native would've liked to have qualified better for the family and friends he has in town for the fourth season event at Houston Raceway this weekend, he isn't looking back heading into Sunday eliminations.
The driver of the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T posted his best qualifying run of 6.737 seconds at 203.74 mph in the first session, then struggled in two of the three remaining passes (12.552/68.97, 6.756/205.82 and 11.668/75.46.)
Stevens has been qualifying strong all season, so this weekend's qualifying performance surprised him. "We had two aborted runs, and that is unheard of for us so far this season," he said. "The track has been pretty tricky for us this weekend, but we'll figure something out for tomorrow. Other cars have been getting down the track, so I know we can too."
He fell victim to a slick track due to water seepage from the heavy rainfall that fell earlier in the week when the car got loose on him in Friday night's qualifying session. "I hit some water on the track at about 30 feet, and it started to shake pretty bad. I put it in second gear and it felt like I was on ice, so I had to lift."
The Don Schumacher Racing driver qualified in the top half of the field 16 times since joining DSR in 2005, and this marks his lowest qualifying position since last year's Spring Nationals (No. 16). "You hate to have it happen anywhere, but I hate to have it happen here," he said of the dragstrip he considers his home track. "I have so many people here from home, and I was hoping to give them a good show all weekend. Now we'll focus on Sunday, and hopefully we can get out of that first round and go from there."
Stevens doesn't believe lane choice is a big factor at Houston Raceway. "Both lanes seem to be pretty equal, as long as the Nitro guys don't oil down the track too bad, we'll have a chance. We'll just have to fight harder than usual, and maybe that will spark us."
He matches up against Erica Enders in the first round of Sunday's final eliminations.