STEVENS EARNS NO. 10 IN BRAINERD QUALIFYING Richie Stevens Jr. drove the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T into No. 10 in qualifying for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. He and Mopar teammate Allen Johnson held on to a top-half position through...
STEVENS EARNS NO. 10 IN BRAINERD QUALIFYING
Richie Stevens Jr. drove the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T into No. 10 in qualifying for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. He and Mopar teammate Allen Johnson held on to a top-half position through three passes until the final round of qualifying, held under hot and humid conditions.
Stevens first posted a 6.822/202.91 to put him eighth, then a 6.773/204.70, which was good for No. 4 in the Friday evening session. In today's final two rounds, Stevens finished the third session in eighth, with a 6.793/203.68, then dropped to 10th in the fourth. His 6.802/203.37 was not strong enough to improve his position.
"We just hadn't made a really good run," said Stevens. "We made a decent run last night and I was a little early out of low gear and that hurt it a little bit, but we still should have run better. Today we had a problem with the car creeping on the start line again. It's kind of creeped through the beams both runs today. We don't know why. We checked the measurements on the bell housing and checked everything in the clutch department and it seemed all right, and we thought it would be fine for this last round.
"Once I staged and went down on the throttle it just crept through again. I'm running the same brake pressures we've always run, same amount of pounds of brake pressure, but for some reason it's not holding it. So we're going to take it all apart and take a look at the clutch and make sure nothing's bent, make sure nothing's loose and hopefully we can get it fixed to go up there tomorrow. When it creeps like that it takes away from the E.T. and it kind of distracts my driving, so it's not a good deal for us.
"We've got Greg Anderson first round. It's going to be tough; he's always tough. We should run right there with him, as long as we get this problem fixed. We'll see, first thing tomorrow."
A.J. CLAIMS NO. 9 IN BRAINERD QUALIFYING
Allen Johnson held onto a top-half place in the 16-car field through three qualifying sessions: first qualifying fifth with a 6.817/203.74, then seventh with a 6.779/204.35. His quickest pass today, a 6.771/203.49, dropped him to seventh, while others improved, and his last try, a 6.778/204.35 landed him finally in No. 9.
"We just struggled with both cars every run," said Johnson. "It's not our usual down-low kind of effort. We're usually in the top five, and here we've just been struggling with that. Mark (Ingersoll, crew chief) is an expert. He'll get it and we'll go out there tomorrow and do good. We just ain't caught up with the track yet."
Johnson faces Jeg Coughlin in first round of elminations on Sunday.
-credit: team mopar/dsr