Baytown: Richie Stevens Saturday summary

DESPITE PROBLEMS, RICHIE STEVENS MAKES IT INTO HOUSTON FIELD BAYTOWN, Texas (April 9, 2005) - After four troublesome qualifying runs at the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway, Richie Stevens Jr. was scratching his head, wondering...

DESPITE PROBLEMS, RICHIE STEVENS MAKES IT INTO HOUSTON FIELD

BAYTOWN, Texas (April 9, 2005) - After four troublesome qualifying runs at the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway, Richie Stevens Jr. was scratching his head, wondering how it was possible that he made it into in the Pro Stock field, albeit in the16th, and last, spot.

In an NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series that is notoriously difficult for which to qualify, Stevens and crew chief Bob Glidden discovered an electrical miss in the engine of the Team Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus in the first round of qualifying, yet produced a 6.778-second ET at 201.97 mph, good for 10th at the time.

The electrical miss was still evident in the second round, under cooler evening conditions, when Stevens ran a 6.782-second ET at a markedly slower 198.82 mph, which dropped him into the 16th position.

Remarkably, with the gremlin still defying the team's attempts to repair the problem, the New Orleans resident posted his best pass of the weekend so far, a 6.767/204.14, in the third round today, which kept him on the bump spot going into the final round.

The final session looked promising, as Team Mopar had found the miss, and having repaired it were looking forward to a move up the charts. That hope was dashed, however, as a new, engine-related, problem surfaced. Despite the new glitch, which resulted in a slow 6.909/195.82 pass, Stevens clung to No. 16 and will race on Sunday, when he will face the No. 1 qualifier Warren Johnson.

"I cannot even believe that we're still in the field," said Stevens. "We have yet to make a decent run this whole weekend. We made two runs on Friday of which neither one was completed. We held on, luckily. I guess if there was a decent run, it was the one this morning, but it wasn't even picture perfect

"In this last one we hurt the engine. It has just been one hell of a weekend. I'm shocked that we're even in the show. This is my home race (closest NHRA national event to New Orleans) and it never goes right," he said, including a race here five years ago, in which he experienced similar problems.

"We get Warren Johnson first round," he said. Ironically, Stevens' teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., who qualified 10th, will face Warren's son Kurt in the first round. "W.J. laid down a heck of run in qualifying. Maybe we can take both of them out. I know we got the electrical miss fixed, now we have a motor problem. I guess we'll put another one in and hope for the best."

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Warren Johnson , Bob Glidden