STEVENS FIRST-ROUND FINISHER IN BRAINERD Richie Stevens Jr. had a tough day during eliminations at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., today. After qualifying 10th, he found himself facing perennial Pro Stock champion and No. 7 ...
STEVENS FIRST-ROUND FINISHER IN BRAINERD
Richie Stevens Jr. had a tough day during eliminations at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., today. After qualifying 10th, he found himself facing perennial Pro Stock champion and No. 7 qualifier Greg Anderson in the opening round. He was ready for the challenge, but it was for naught, as Anderson took the win over Stevens by .3297 of a second, while Stevens struggled to keep the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T in the groove at the end of the track.
Stevens posted a 6.971-second elapsed time at 165.33 mph, while Anderson claimed the win with a 6.679/206.80.
"It got out of the groove on me down track," said Stevens. "When it left the starting line it was fine. I just started to drift right and I was trying to bring it back. I had the wheel cranked to the left, but it just kept pushing right, and I guess I was kind of out of the groove down there going in high gear. It was starting to shake more and more. I moved out of the groove further and it was shaking, shaking, and shaking, and finally it just bit. And with me having the wheel kind of cranked left trying to get back in the groove and it's shaking, it shot me left pretty hard. In fact, right toward the centerline, toward Greg, and I had to lift.
"That was it. Game over. Greg ran a good number. It would have been hard to beat him."
Stevens held on to No. 10 in the points, 56 markers out of eighth, but it's coming down to the wire for him to get into the top eight to qualify for the next phase of the Countdown to the Championship, which begins at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend. "We have one race left," he said. "The only good news coming out of today is (No. 9 in points) V. Gaines also lost first round. It's getting harder and harder to get in the top eight, and with one race left we're almost going to have to be perfect at that race. We'll see in a week."
ALLEN JOHNSON, MOPAR/J&J RACING DODGE STRATUS R/T:
Allen Johnson lost the opening round of Pro Stock eliminations at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals today by five feet to eventual event winner Jeg Coughlin. It was a close race, but it was a disappointing finish to a difficult weekend for Johnson and the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge team.
"This is pretty disappointing," said Johnson, who has already earned a spot in the top eight for the Countdown to the Championship and is fourth in the standings. "We didn't qualify well (No. 9), and we never did get a handle on the track and what it wanted. That's the first time we've done that in a long time, maybe even since Phoenix (second race of the season).
"Well just go to Reading, regroup, and try to do it again. We're in a bit of a testing mode, anyway, for the Countdown. We've learned what not to do."
Next up for the Mopar duo is the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., Aug. 17-19, where the final eight for the Countdown will be named.
-credit: team mopar/dsr