DALLAS (Oct. 23) -- The second quickest field in Pro Stock drag racing history will include Valspar Refinish driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens, who pulled out a clutch, last-minute 6.876-second lap at 198.45 mph to capture the No. 9 position in the...
DALLAS (Oct. 23) -- The second quickest field in Pro Stock drag racing history will include Valspar Refinish driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens, who pulled out a clutch, last-minute 6.876-second lap at 198.45 mph to capture the No. 9 position in the field of the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals.
Stevens, a 21-year-old from New Orleans, watched from the back of the pack as several teams recorded their best-ever laps during an extremely quick final qualifying session at the Texas Motorplex. He also saw the quickest and fastest lap in NHRA history when reigning Winston champ Warren Johnson ran a stunning 6.822-second pass at 202.33 mph right beside him in Round 4. But it was Stevens -- who needed a stout run just to make the field --who came through the biggest for his team in the end.
"I admit it, I was nervous," Stevens said, "and for a number of reasons. I was watching everyone run killer laps and I knew the conditions were good. Plus, I knew everyone was running their best laps, I knew I wasn't in, and I knew that I would be able to get in if I didn't screw up. The pressure was on for sure. I almost wanted to sit there at the line for a minute and make certain I did everything by the book.
"Luckily, even though we still blew the tires off a little bit at the starting line, we were able to get in the field. If we had hooked up to the track like I though we would we might have gone a 6.84 at least. But hey, we're in and that's saying a lot with this record group."
Stevens earned the tenuous 16th position in the field during Saturday's first session. Occurring just after a huge starting-line oil-down, Stevens' first run was breathtaking as the Valspar machine swayed wildly just after the launch. But Stevens managed to collect the car near the first timing box and went on to run a respectable 6.946-second pass at 198.36 mph.
"I wasn't in the field at that point and I did everything I could to get through that oil spot," Stevens said. "I know the safety crew spent a long time cleaning up that mess but no matter how hard they work it still takes a few laps of cars under power before it's totally gone.
"The Valspar Pontiac ran great after the first few hundred feet and I believe we were set-up nice for a record run. But all that spinning at the starting line just zapped us."
ESPN2 will carry tape-delayed qualifying highlights of the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals beginning at 1:30 p.m. EST on Oct. 24. Same-day television coverage of final eliminations start at 5 p.m. EST, also on ESPN2.