Denver: Stevens has plenty of work to do

DENVER (July 14) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens will be the first to admit that his weekend at Bandimere Speedway didn't start the way he had planned. Stevens struggled through Friday's opening two rounds of qualifying at the...

DENVER (July 14) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens will be the first to admit that his weekend at Bandimere Speedway didn't start the way he had planned. Stevens struggled through Friday's opening two rounds of qualifying at the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals and failed to find a spot in the 16-car field. Stevens, and the rest of the Pro Stock field, will have two more chances to qualify tomorrow.

The 21-year-old driver from New Orleans, who is in his third year on the NHRA tour, opened with a 7.471-second, 185.13-mph pass in the heat of the day. He then followed that lap with a slightly better 7.469-second run at 184.14 mph in Round 2. He must lower his elapsed time to at least 7.455 seconds if he hopes to put his Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird in the field.

"This is not at all what we wanted," Stevens said. "We missed the clutch set-up in the first round and the car got loose in Round 2. It seems like ever since we've switched to this new car we've had trouble sorting it out. I don't know what we can change on it anymore. We've changed or adjusted every part of the car.

"It's like that movie Christine. The car has a mind of it's own. It's reaching the point where unless something really good happens during Saturday's two qualifying sessions or Sunday's eliminations we might have to switch back to the old car. I really don't want to do that because I really think this new car is faster than the other one but the other one was way more consistent. Most of the time that can make a big difference.

"I could depend on the old car to get down the track 90 to 95 percent of the car. The new one has about a 50-50 chance. That's just not good enough. We'll be lucky to earn a spot today. We'll probably need some help from the weather. If it gets too hot we might not make the field."

Stevens is currently riding a 32-race streak of consecutive elimination-round appearances. The fortunate run is the second longest in the Pro stock class behind only five-time champ Warren Johnson, who has raced in 252 straight events.

Several hours of this race will be broadcast on ESPN2. Qualifying highlights will air from 10 p.m.-midnight, Saturday, with a repeat from 4:30-6:30 a.m. (ET) Sunday morning. The first round of eliminations will be shown from 4:30-5:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday with the final three rounds shown later that evening from 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (ET). A repeat of the elimination rounds will air from 4-6 a.m. (ET) Tuesday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson