Brainerd Early exit frustrates Stevens

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 20) – A late-night decision to swap motors came back to haunt the Valspar Refinish team of Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens in today’s opening round of elimination racing of the 19th annual Colonel’s...

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 20) – A late-night decision to swap motors came back to haunt the Valspar Refinish team of Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens in today’s opening round of elimination racing of the 19th annual Colonel’s Truck Accessories Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Befuddled by engine gremlins with their primary powerplant, Stevens and company decided to insert a brand-new 500 cubic inch engine into their gleaming Valspar Pontiac Firebird late Saturday evening. The unproven piece didn’t quite match up with the tune-up the crew had devised for this racetrack and Stevens ended up dropping a Round 1 race against frontrunner Ron Krisher by a mere three feet.

The race was every bit as close as the finish. Stevens blasted out to a huge lead with a .443-second reaction time against Krisher’s .486-second launch. But the higher qualified Krisher slowly closed in on Stevens and finally passed him in the last 50 feet of the quarter-mile to win in 6.982 seconds and 196.73 mph in front of Stevens’ 7.025-second, 194.74-mph lap. The margin of victory was .009 (nine thousandths) of a second.

“I drilled him on the (starting) tree but he drove by me on the other end,” Stevens said. “It was so close I really didn’t know who had won. I never saw him until we were past the scoreboards. It was very close.

“We did the best we could but it’s pretty hard to start race day with a different motor from the one you had qualified with, especially a brand-new motor that you don’t really know anything about. It just isn’t broken in yet. We just felt like we had to make the change to have a chance at beating Ron. The other piece kept bogging down and we weren’t sure why so we decided to make the switch.

“It’s a disappointing way to finish the weekend. We had a bunch of Valspar people up from Minneapolis with us today and the folks from Mills GM in Brainerd were also here. I wanted to have a good showing for them. We tried our best but it wasn’t good enough this weekend. We’ll have to regroup and get set for Indy.”

The early exit for Stevens allowed Jim Yates to pass him for seventh place in the Winston championship points standings. Stevens, a 21-year-old from New Orleans, will enter the U.S. Nationals on Aug. 30 in eighth.

Same-day television coverage of the 19th annual Colonel’s Truck Accessories National’s elimination rounds will air today from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT) on TNN.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Krisher