Denver Richie Stevens Set for Eliminations

Stevens set to open against KJ DENVER (July 17) -- Due to Friday's seemingly endless rain, the field for the 21st Annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals was set Saturday evening after just three rounds of professional qualifying at ...

Stevens set to open against KJ

DENVER (July 17) -- Due to Friday's seemingly endless rain, the field for the 21st Annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals was set Saturday evening after just three rounds of professional qualifying at Bandimere Speedway.

While foregoing the usual four sessions of qualifying caused fits for some of the pro teams, the Valspar Refinish pit managed to fight through the adversity and earn a spot for their machine in Sunday's field of 16 cars that will fight for the title of this event.

Richie "The Kid" Stevens, who pilots the Valspar Refinish Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, secured a spot in the elimination action with his final trip down Bandimere's historic quarter-mile. Stevens tripped the timers in 7.418 seconds at 185.05 mph on Saturday evening to capture the 14th qualifying position.

Stevens will now open Sunday's elimination action against Kurt Johnson, who qualified third with a pass of 7.355 seconds at 187.18 mph. Due to his superior elapsed time, Johnson will have the advantage of lane choice over Stevens. The two men have not met in competition this season.

"We ran good enough to get in and that's about it," Stevens said. "I can try my best to leave on Kurt (at the starting line) and run a perfect lap, but I still feel like I'm going to end up hoping that he doesn't get down the track under power.

"We're in, and a lot of people aren't. That's a real positive. But I just don't know how we can run fast enough at this altitude to beat Kurt. He's been running really strong all weekend."

In Saturday's morning session, Stevens, a 20-year-old from New Orleans, posted a 7.429-second lap at 184.83 mph. The time was an improvement over his Friday night pass of 7.465 seconds at 184.35 mph, but he still moved down the ladder two spots from ninth to 11th place.

"That was actually another decent lap for the Valspar car," Stevens said. "It looked good on the computer graph. I did shift late between first gear and second, but otherwise it was smooth. That first shift-point came almost immediately because we have a different rear end in the car to compensate for the altitude. It caught me off guard for a second.

"I was actually surprised that everyone ran as quickly as they did this morning. As hot as it was I expected everyone to be a little slower."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson