Bristol: Richie Stevens Jr preview

RICHIE STEVENS TESTS NEW CAR FOR BRISTOL BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 27, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. has never been more motivated to win an NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock race for Don Schumacher Racing than he is right now, following a ...

RICHIE STEVENS TESTS NEW CAR FOR BRISTOL

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 27, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. has never been more motivated to win an NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock race for Don Schumacher Racing than he is right now, following a successful test of a new Jerry Haas-built Dodge Stratus at Bristol Dragway last week.

Taking advantage of an organized test session to try out the new Team Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge, Stevens and crew chief Bob Glidden are encouraged by the results and eager to take to the quarter-mile at the O'Reilly Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals this weekend at the same track.

"We're very pleased with the test," says the New Orleans native. "We were quicker than anybody. I hope the new chassis will do as well in the race as it did in testing.

"We collected some data that will help us out this weekend," adds Stevens, new to Don Schumacher Racing after a two-year hiatus from the class in order to take care of the family business while his father Richie Sr. underwent successful heart surgery. "That should put us a step ahead of some of the other teams that weren't there testing. We made some really good runs down the track."

The new Haas-built Dodge joins the Rick Jones-built Dodge that Stevens has driven all year in the DSR stable and is similar to teammate Jeg Coughlin's Jeg's Mail Order entry. "It's pretty smooth," says Stevens. "I'm not saying the other car isn't smooth, but this is a brand-new car. To get one that's right out of the box, right out of the shop, that can run and perform as well as this one has is not really unheard of, but it doesn't happen too often."

"We made 13 runs on the car back-to-back-to-back and every one was straight down the track and it put up some good numbers on the board (a 4.78-second pass was the best of the test). It's showing to be a good car early on and that's without even working with it yet.

"I think it will be a good car in the long run and hopefully it will boost our numbers up a little bit and get us a better qualifying spot for Sunday.

"The weather wasn't hot, hot; it was in the mid-70s. That's probably what it's going to be for the race. The track was in fair condition. It wasn't in great condition. The surface was good, but it wasn't under the racing conditions like it normally would be."

For the 26-year-old Stevens, who earned IHRA Rookie of the Year honors in 1996 at age 18, Bristol Dragway holds fond memories. "Bristol has always been a good track for me," he says. "It's a real sentimental track because it's where I got my first win back in 1996 in IHRA, and that's the first time I had ever won a race.

"It's definitely got some history for me. It's always been one of my favorite tracks."

Glidden, the 10-time Pro Stock champion and crew chief on both Don Schumacher Racing Pro Stock cars, has been working hard this season to elevate both cars' performances and is looking forward to this weekend's race. "Richie is comfortable in it, and the new car worked just great every run and all we need is some dry weather and some good luck and we can win a race," he says.

Stevens qualified No. 1 in Phoenix, the second of five races so far this year, but has qualified in the bottom half of the 16-car field in the other four events. He is 13th in Pro Stock standings, just 26 points out of 10th place.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Richie Stevens Jr. , Bob Glidden , Jerry Haas , Don Schumacher