DALLAS (Oct. 24) -- A weekend filled with promise ended with an empty feeling for Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens when he was beaten in Sunday's opening session of elimination racing at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall ...
DALLAS (Oct. 24) -- A weekend filled with promise ended with an empty feeling for Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens when he was beaten in Sunday's opening session of elimination racing at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals.
It was a disappointing loss for the 21-year-old Stevens who missed an opportunity to put some space between himself and a pack of drivers who are chasing him in the Winston championship points standings. Fortunately, three of the main drivers vying to supplant Stevens from the No. 5 position, which he has held since mid-July, were also dismissed early, securing the fact that Stevens will hold on to his position for another week.
Adding to the sting of the loss is the fact that for the third race in a row Stevens ran a superior time than his opponent but lost the race at the starting line with a slower reaction time. In today's race Stevens posted a 6.908-second lap at 196.67 mph against Allen Johnson's 6.924-second pass at 198.76 mph. But he reacted to the lights in .457 seconds while Johnson left the starting line in .432 seconds (.400 is perfect). The final margin of victory was .009 seconds or about two feet in length.
"We probably could have gone a little quicker because the car skated around a good bit in fourth and fifth gear," Stevens said. "But that doesn't excuse being late. I feel bad for the team and (crew chief) Tommy Utt. For three races in a row he's had this Valspar Pontiac in top shape and I keep throwing it all away. I've let him down and I've let down our sponsors and our fans. This is killing me.
"I just can not get a light. I don't know what my problem is. I can practice all day long and nail .410 lights but when I get out there I can't get it done. I go through the exact same routine I've always gone through. It's unexplainable. If I knew what to do to change this trend I would do it. I guess I just have to keep racing and get through this bad stretch."
Stevens won't have long to worry about his performance here at the Texas Motorplex. He and the rest of the NHRA pros will begin the Third annual Matco Tools Supernationals Thursday at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas.