Stevens wins Mopar Nationals ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 25) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens drove his Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird to the championship of the 30th Annual Mopar Parts Nationals Tuesday afternoon at Old Bridge ...
Stevens wins Mopar Nationals
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 25) -- Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens drove his Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird to the championship of the 30th Annual Mopar Parts Nationals Tuesday afternoon at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
The 20-year-old sophomore driver from New Orleans had to wait patiently for his first win of the 1999 season as a series of rain showers delayed Sunday's final two rounds of elimination racing until this morning. But after two consecutive runner-up finishes at the last two National Hot Rod Association events, Stevens will be the first to tell you that today's victory was definitely worth the wait.
"The third time was the charm," a beaming Stevens said at the finish line. "This feels great. We've been sitting around for two days and I've been trying my hardest not to get over-excited and just play it cool. Now I feel so happy. I'm on top of the world.
"The entire Valspar team, from my dad to my crew chief Tommy Utt and the rest of the crew, they deserve all the credit. They've all been working so hard. We've been so close the last two races and now we're on top. It's an awesome, awesome feeling."
Stevens beat hometown hero Tom Martino in the finals. The two men recorded exactly identical 6.959-second passes but Stevens used his slight jump at the light - 0.444 seconds to Martino's 0.458 seconds - to take a narrow four-foot win. Officially, Stevens won in 6.959 seconds at 198.00 mph to Martino's 6.959-second, 198.23-mph lap.
"Tom had put up a 0.401 second light in the semis (against Steve Schmidt) so I knew he was on his game," Stevens said. "I was really focused going in at the lights. I staged first and he hung me out for a second or two but when the lights popped and I took off. I never saw him again. Next thing I know the little win light came on and my heart started pounding out of my chest. This really is the best feeling you can have. It's impossible to describe."
Earlier this morning, Stevens recorded another close win (0.016 seconds) over Jeg Coughlin. Stevens posted a 6.946-second lap at 198.15 mph to Coughlin's 6.969-second lap at 199.02 mph.
To reach today's semifinals, Stevens beat Larry Nance in Sunday's opening round with a 6.964-second lap at 197.80 mph to Nance's 7.213-second pass at 193.65 mph. He then dismissed Allen Johnson in the quarterfinals by running a 6.975-second pass at 197.42 mph against Johnson's 7.149-second lap at 167.86 mph.
Stevens now has a career record of 2-2 in final round appearances. He is currently in third place in the Winston points standings, 137 points out of second place.