Chicago 'Kid' drops Duel decision by .001

CHICAGO (June 3) – Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens will be the first to admit that he was hoping for more out of this day at the racetrack. Stevens was one of eight select drivers to compete in this year’s Holley...

CHICAGO (June 3) – Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens will be the first to admit that he was hoping for more out of this day at the racetrack. Stevens was one of eight select drivers to compete in this year’s Holley Dominator Duel, which took place today at Route 66 Raceway in conjunction with the final two rounds of qualifying for the third annual Prestone Nationals. But the 21-year-old pro from New Orleans bowed out in the first round of the Duel by .001 of a second and will have to wait until tomorrow’s elimination action before he has a chance to redeem himself.

Stevens actually had the quicker car in his Duel with driver Kurt Johnson. He ran a 6.933-second lap at 198.15 mph against Johnson’s 6.964-second pass at 199.64 mph. But a slow reaction time at the starting line - - .499 to Johnson’s .467 - - cancelled out the performance advantage and gave Johnson the slenderest of wins.

“I could have just stayed in bed and done better then I did today,” Stevens said. “I flat-out just left the light late. I really didn’t think I’d out run him and I was concentrating on hitting a good light but in the end the opposite happened, I had a great run and a lousy light. That just made me feel worse than I already felt.

“I didn’t see Kurt until after 1,000 feet. Then he started creeping in there. The Valspar car was bouncing all over the place and it slowed me down just enough for him to win. It was so close that neither of us knew who won when we got out of our cars at the other end.”

Stevens earned $2,500 just for qualifying for the Dominator Duel field, which invites only the top eight qualifiers from the last 22 races. Stevens has qualified for the special event both years that he’s been eligible.

By chance, Stevens will open tomorrow’s elimination action against Johnson once again. Stevens’ best qualifying pass of the weekend was a steady 6.893-second, 198.50-mph run that earned him the No. 11 position on the elimination ladder. Johnson was the sixth-best qualifier with a 6.885-second pass at 200 mph.

“At least we know we can run with him,” Stevens said. “I’m ready to get even. We’re changing the spoiler to get more downforce and the Valspar car will be ready to go.”

ESPN2 will broadcast same-day elimination round coverage from 5-7 p.m. ET (2-4 p.m. PT) tomorrow. A rebroadcast of the elimination rounds will air from 4-6 a.m. ET (1-3 a.m. PT) Tuesday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson