Denver Richie Stevens Round 1 Report

'Kid' slides into field in Round 1 DENVER (July 16) -- Friday's opening round of professional qualifying for the 21st Annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway followed the exact same pattern as many of the National Hot ...

'Kid' slides into field in Round 1

DENVER (July 16) -- Friday's opening round of professional qualifying for the 21st Annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway followed the exact same pattern as many of the National Hot Rod Association races this year -- it was delayed several times by rain.

When the rain finally relented four hours later, the driver's of the Pro Stock class did manage to slip and slide through the opening round with mixed results. On the positive side, the cooler temperatures allowed both ends of the track record to be reset. At the same time, many of the cars that ran early in the session could not complete their runs under power due to the dubious track conditions.

Richie "The Kid" Stevens, the driver of the Valspar Refinish Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, split the two extremes and recorded a safe pass of 7.465 seconds at 184.35 mph. The run was neither spectacular nor uninspired, but it was good enough to place the 20-year-old Stevens in the No. 10 spot on the qualifying ladder.

"That's not a bad start, all things considered," said Stevens, the youngest professional driver competing at this event. "I'm glad we ran well enough to earn a spot in the field because if it's hot tomorrow, then we might have just set the field for the whole weekend right there. At least we got all the way down the track and we were able to get a lot of data that will help us set-up the car properly.

"It's unfortunate that we were up near the front of the session because the track appeared to get better and better as the round went along. I don't think there was much rubber when we ran and the track definitely wasn't holding any heat.

"I don't know if it was cold or a little wet out there, but I did get loose right when I shifted into fifth gear. The car moved a bit. It wasn't a lot but it was definitely enough to get my attention. Fortunately, the car came right back to me so I was able to drive her out the back end and set a pretty decent time."

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Series NHRA