RICHIE STEVENS JR., DON SCHUMACHER RACING'S TEAM MOPAR/VALSPAR DODGE STRATUS R/T: STEVENS OUT IN SECOND ROUND Richie Stevens Jr. reached the quarterfinal round today at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals after defeating his good friend Erica...
RICHIE STEVENS JR., DON SCHUMACHER RACING'S TEAM MOPAR/VALSPAR DODGE STRATUS R/T:
STEVENS OUT IN SECOND ROUND
Richie Stevens Jr. reached the quarterfinal round today at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals after defeating his good friend Erica Enders in the opening round.
Behind the wheel of one of the two strongest Pro Stock cars at Bandimere Speedway this weekend, the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T, No. 2 qualifier Stevens drove around Enders to secure the victory with a 7.120-second elapsed time at 194.32 mph to her losing 7.164/193.68. Stevens' stellar .006 reaction time (.000 is perfect) was overshadowed by Enders' even stronger near-perfect .002.
The second round saw an early exit for the New Orleans native, as Ron Krisher pulled out a 7.097/194.30 victory over Stevens' 7.123/194.21, despite a slower reaction time (.072 for Krisher, .067 for Stevens).
Stevens moved into the No. 8 spot in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock point standings.
"The good thing is that we qualified one-two and did good at Mopar's home race," said Stevens, who was second to polesitter and teammate Allen Johnson. "We had the best two cars going into today, and we didn't really make a great run on the first round, but we got the win and got around Erica. We lost lane choice, which probably hurt us a little bit going into the second round against Krisher. We still had a good car going up there, we thought we could get around him, but came up a little short and we made a bad run. I was a little late, it was a little light on clutch. A combination of both equals the loss.
"Krisher's running real strong right now. He's got a tough car out there, he's going to go some rounds. Overall, I got my spot back in the top eight. I was hoping to go some more rounds, but I guess we'll save it for Seattle. Maybe we can make up the difference there and keep the string going.
"That was a great win for Allen!"
ALLEN JOHNSON, MOPAR/J&J RACING DODGE STRATUS R/T:
JOHNSON WINS HIS FIRST OF THE SEASON
Allen Johnson captured his first Pro Stock victory since Seattle of 2006, the fifth of his career in 11 final rounds, and his first at Bandimere Speedway at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals today, defeating Ron Krisher.
Johnson pulled out his quickest reaction time of the event in that round, a .018 (.000 is perfect) to Krisher's .040, but he didn't need it to take the win over a car with a broken transmission. Johnson crossed the finish line in 7.132 seconds at 192.47 mph, while Krisher coasted to a 16.720/48.95.
On his path to the final round, Johnson eliminated Greg Stanfield with a 7.099/195.31, three-time Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson with a 7.102/194.80 and Warren Johnson with a 7.086/194.58.
"It's just a fairy tale weekend," said Johnson, seated beside his dad and team engine builder Roy, who had suffered a heart attack earlier this year, and has recovered fully. "I'm sure Dad will second that. For this being a Mopar event, we were the fastest car, No. 1 qualifier: everything you can do we did this weekend and it feels really good.
"We were lucky we were in the right spot at the right time," he said of Roy's attack in Phoenix. "It worked out that he's more healthy now than he was before then. So, you can tell he's smarter (because of the way the car's running.)
"That one race was a setback for him and the team. We've just come back even stronger and everybody's bound together and we tested our butts off and they put in long hours at the shop on the engines and it's just all starting to come together.
"We've been a win waiting to happen since the first of the year and just hadn't gotten a break. In the finals we got a break. We probably wounded our motor in the finals because we only ran 192 mph. Fortunately, Ron broke a transmission, so there's the break we were looking for.
"Going into the finals we knew it was going to be tough. He'd been fast all day. I had to do my job as a driver and the car and the motor had to do their jobs. Fortunately, we got by even though we didn't do our jobs. But it would've been close.
"We've won I think every year for the past three years, and maybe we're on some kind of roll now to where we can do one or two wins a year and finish in the top eight to start with and maybe even move on up to top four at the end of the year. It's just great. Any time you can do something like this is awesome.
"Every run we made here was pretty awesome here. Richie's were too. We were on our game here."
Said Roy Johnson: "I think it's just a storybook deal. Had I been writing a script, I think I would have written it just like it happened, except Richie would have been in the other lane in the final.
"I don't know if I got smarter. I'm just trying to learn to work smarter instead of harder."
As for the improved performance and how the team will match up against the dominant Summit Racing and Victor Cagnazzi cars the rest of the year: "I think we're right there with them," said Allen. "Just like Dad with the engines, Mark (Ingersoll, crew chief) is doing an awesome job with the chassis and making good runs. We still got some improvement to make, but for the most part everybody's hands are woven together and we're all just clicking."
Next up for the Mopar duo is the Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals in Seattle, July 20-22.