Columbus Richie Stevens Qualifying Story

Young pup barks like old dog COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 12) -- By the end of Saturday's professional qualifying sessions for the 35th Annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals at National Trail Raceway, 20-year-old driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens, who is...

Young pup barks like old dog

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 12) -- By the end of Saturday's professional qualifying sessions for the 35th Annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals at National Trail Raceway, 20-year-old driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens, who is the youngest Pro Stock pilot on the National Hot Rod Association circuit, had an interesting way of recapping his weekend.

"I feel like an old dog with my tongue hanging out," he said. "And I'm searching for a shade tree where I can take a long nap. This race has been a real struggle so far. We're on the back-up motor to our back-up motor and we had to do everything we could think of to put the Valspar Pontiac in the field with less power then we're used to.

"The guys used some old tricks and we were able to get up in the field today with a 7.085-second pass (at 194.63 mph in Round 3, which placed him in 10th place.) Then we backed it up with 7.09-second pass in Round 4 so we ended up feeling pretty good about ourselves. We're in the show and we're up higher than we were a week ago and that's really saying something."

Stevens, who leases motors from Finish Line Racing Engines for his Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird, blew his primary motor a week ago in Chicago. Due to the short time frame between races, Stevens' No. 1 motor, along with his usual back-up motor, remain under repair at the Finish Line shop in nearby Newark, Ohio.

"The Valspar crew tweaked everything they could to compensate for this motor," Stevens said. "They changed the transmission ratios, the clutch settings and the rear end, among other things, to try and find some speed. I kept the car straight and hit my shift points today but the real credit should go to Tommy (Utt, crew chief) and Mike (Green, clutch tech). They did all the work to get this car down the track. Today was definitely their time to shine. They deserve the credit. I was just along for the ride."

"We were able to move up in the standings and that helps put my mind at ease. The only problem is that we have pushed all of the other parts of the car to the very edge of what they are capable of doing."

Stevens opens Sunday's elimination action against Allen Johnson, who qualified seventh with a lap of 7.051 seconds at 196.10 mph. The two men have split their two prior meetings this season.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Allen Johnson