Brainerd: Valspar's star ready to shine

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 19) – With hundreds of his title sponsor’s employees boisterously cheering him on, Valspar Refinish driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens successfully qualified his colorful Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird in the field of the...

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 19) – With hundreds of his title sponsor’s employees boisterously cheering him on, Valspar Refinish driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens successfully qualified his colorful Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird in the field of the 19th annual Colonel’s Truck Accessories Nationals. The 21-year-old from New Orleans finished today’s action in the No. 12 position, well below the 7.004-second cut-off.

“This has been a great weekend for the Valspar organization,” Stevens said. “There’s been a big group of people up from the corporate offices in Minneapolis and everyone is having a great time here at the races. It’s fantastic to have so much support right here in our pit and up in the stands when we’re running. They really have us motivated to win.

“I hope we can show them something tomorrow. It’s a new day and a fresh start where anyone can win. The field of 16 is so tight that I think any car can beat any other car out there. If we take care of business we have as good a chance to win as any team here.”

Stevens ran a 6.998-second lap at 196.02 mph in the second round of qualifying to claim the 12th position on the elimination ladder and will start Sunday’s action against No. 5 qualifier Ron Krisher, who posted a 6.969-second, 196.62-mph pass. Krisher will have lane choice over Stevens by virtue of his slightly better elapsed time.

“We ran pretty much the same in both lanes so I don’t think lane choice will play a big role in who wins or loses,” Stevens said. “We do have some work to do on our Valspar car before we get started. Yesterday we had trouble with it bogging down a bit at the starting line and it did it again in the first round today. We made some more changes before the final session but that time it bogged at the other end of the track.

“Something is hurting this motor and we’re going to work all night if we have to so we can find out what’s wrong and fix it. This is a big race for all of us on this team, for the folks at Valspar, and for our friends at Mills GM, who came on board with us for this race since it’s in their hometown. There’s a lot on the line and we want to do well.”

Currently seventh in the Winston championship points standings, Stevens could move as high as fifth place with a win and some help from other drivers. Stevens has one national event win and 14 elimination-round victories this season.

Same-day television coverage of the 19th annual Colonel’s Truck Accessories National’s elimination rounds will air tomorrow from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT) on TNN. Racing action at the track begins at 10 a.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Krisher