DENVER (July 15) â€“ For the first time in a year and a half, Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie â€œThe Kidâ€ Stevens will not be a part of the elimination rounds of an NHRA national event. Stevens failed to qualify for the 22nd annual...
DENVER (July 15) – For the first time in a year and a half, Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens will not be a part of the elimination rounds of an NHRA national event. Stevens failed to qualify for the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, ending his streak of consecutive race day appearances at 32 events. The run had been the second longest in the class.
Stevens’s problems this weekend were twofold. He struggled with Bandimere’s hot and slick surface on nearly every pass and never seemed to feel completely comfortable behind the wheel of his new Valspar Pontiac Firebird.
Despite his problems Stevens did manage to temporarily earn the 14th spot in the field after running a 7.424-second lap at 185.59 mph in Round 3. But he couldn’t improve on the mark in the cooler evening session and six other drivers managed to surpass his mark. He finished in the 20th spot, .017 seconds out of contention.
“I don’t know how you could feel any worse then I do right now,” Stevens said. “The Valspar car actually ran better today than it did yesterday but it wasn’t enough. It’s not like us to be at the bottom of the ladder fighting to stay alive. We’re better than this. I’m really bummed out. If I didn’t know better I’d swear someone has a voodoo doll on me and they’re working some black magic.
“We knew the streak wouldn’t last forever and I guess there is never a good time to not qualify. But this one will really hurt us because we’re in such a tight points race. Plus, since my dad and I bought this team we have qualified for every race until now. We’ll have to see what happens tomorrow and where we end up in the points.”
Stevens is currently in seventh place in the Winston championship points standings. He could fall as far as ninth place tomorrow. The Valspar team will now have a weekend off to sort out their problems before the NHRA tour arrives in Seattle July 28-30.
“We need to get back on track fast,” Stevens said. “It’s frustrating because we’re not really sure what the problem is. We’ve tried a lot of different combinations and nothing seems to be quite right. We’ve been using our Warren Johnson motor at some races and our own motor at other races. We’ve tried them in the new car and the old car. We just can’t find any answers right now. It’s time to go testing and get this thing figured out once and for all.”