Columbus Richie Stevens Friday Qualifying Report

Power outage affects Stevens day COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 11) -- The difference between Friday's opening two rounds of professional qualifying for the 35th Annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals were as obvious as night and day for most of the teams...

Power outage affects Stevens day

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 11) -- The difference between Friday's opening two rounds of professional qualifying for the 35th Annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals were as obvious as night and day for most of the teams in attendance. In fact, night and day had a lot to do with the varied times that were posted in the two sessions.

Richie "The Kid" Stevens, the pilot of the Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird, experienced the same temperature-induced swings of the day as the rest of his contemporaries in the Pro Stock field. But the 20-year-old from New Orleans had the additional quandary of battling the conditions with his No. 3 engine under the hood.

"We're doing the best we can with this motor," Stevens said. "We made two good runs in a row. This thing just doesn't have the power of our top two motors. Hopefully we can make it through this weekend and we'll be back under good power by St. Louis."

In Round 1, which took place in the heat of the day with temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, Stevens posted a 7.119-second pass at 193.90 mph. Then, with the sun slipping over the horizon and nighttime enveloping the track, Stevens coolly carded an improved 7.085-second pass at 194.63 mph to remain in the 16-car field in the 16th and final position.

"These back-to-back races are hurting us because the guys at Finish Line (Racing Engines, who lease engines to Stevens) didn't have time to repair the motor we blew in Chicago," Stevens said. "And our secondary motor is also under repair. So, for now, were stuck with a slower piece. I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope we stay in the field."

Stevens' Round 1 lap of 7.119 seconds at 193.90 mph temporarily placed him in the No. 14 qualifying position. "I realize that no one posted outrageous times or speeds because of the heat," Stevens said. "But that lap really concerned me because I thought we should have been much faster. I was trying to figure out if it was me or the car or the engine.

"There were bumps out there that caused some tire spin but the fact is that everyone else raced on the same track as me and we were just slower than normal. I figured we were down on power and our Round 2 pass confirmed that. I looked at both of my laps on the computer and they were both clean. The clutch pretty much matched what the engine was producing and all of the other readings were decent. This motor is just not up to speed."

Stevens will have two more chances to improve his standing during tomorrow's action.

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Series NHRA