Chicago Richie Stevens Friday Report

CHICAGO (June 4) -- The hottest driver in the National Hot Rod Association's most competitive bracket fought through a problem-filled opening day of racing as qualifying for the Second Annual Fram Nationals began at Route 66 Raceway in ...

CHICAGO (June 4) -- The hottest driver in the National Hot Rod Association's most competitive bracket fought through a problem-filled opening day of racing as qualifying for the Second Annual Fram Nationals began at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet.

Pro Stock pilot Richie "The Kid" Stevens, fresh off his win at the NHRA's last stop in Englishtown, N.J., tried to keep his streak alive on this day, but suffered engine problems and had to settle for a bottom-half qualifying effort (7.026-seconds at 195.68 mph) that left him in 15th place in the standings.

"Something big broke in the motor," Stevens said after his lackluster 7.079-second, 191.29-mph Friday night pass. "The motor knocked half of its rocker arms off the cylinder heads and we're not really sure why. We had a total loss of power at the end of that run, which is kind of strange considering how well this car's been running. I do know we need a new motor and we're definitely in for a long night as we switch everything out to get ready for tomorrow. I definitely need to move up in the field."

To say the 20-year-old from New Orleans has been on a tear lately is an understatement. He's been to three straight final rounds and briefly held the national elapsed time record in the last five weeks alone. Additionally, during his latest hot streak Stevens has qualified no lower than third place for Sunday's elimination action.

Stevens' best run of this weekend so far came earlier in the day when he posted a 7.026-second lap at 195.68 mph in Round 1. "The track was real green," he said. "I was thinking that it definitely needed more cars to go down it for the surface to improve. The car was struggling to find traction throughout the run and it was shaking all the way down the strip. When I got to the other end WJ (Warren Johnson) and John Nobile were down there in the shut-off area saying that they had the same problems."

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Nobile , Warren Johnson