Houston: Stevens pumped about frenzied finish

HOUSTON (Oct. 26) -- An unrelenting rain forced the postponement of last weekend's NHRA drag race in Dallas, which in turn, made the last 18 days of the 2000 season a wild three-race sprint to the finish. Decorated third-year pro Richie "The Kid"...

HOUSTON (Oct. 26) -- An unrelenting rain forced the postponement of last weekend's NHRA drag race in Dallas, which in turn, made the last 18 days of the 2000 season a wild three-race sprint to the finish. Decorated third-year pro Richie "The Kid" Stevens of the Valspar Refinish camp embraces the intensified schedule and looks for big things to happen at three of his favorite tracks on the circuit.

Stevens, a 22-year-old from New Orleans, is the first professional-level graduate of the NHRA's Junior Dragster program for kids. It was in the half-scale dragsters that he learned how to become one of the best drivers in the ultra competitive Pro Stock class with many of his junior level races conducted at Houston Raceway Park, the site of this weekend's fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions.

"I've never made a secret about the fact that Houston is my favorite track," Stevens said. "It's an awesome facility and I hope I can go there this weekend and win the race. The Valspar Refinish Pontiac is in top shape, my crew chief Tommy Utt has everything ready to go, and I've been driving real well lately. All the pieces are in place for us to have a great finish. We just need a little luck and we'll be fine."

When the tour returns to Dallas Nov. 3-4 for the rescheduled 15th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals, Stevens will again feel right at home, racing at a track that also is close to his Louisiana home. Finally, when the season draws to a close in Pomona, Calif., Nov. 9-12, the third-year pro will return to the site of his greatest professional-level accomplishment -- his 1998 win at the NHRA Finals, which made him the youngest Pro Stock winner in the 49-year history of the sport.

"Having three races in a row like this is good for me," Stevens said. "It will really keep us in the swing of things because there's no down time. I love all three of these tracks and we've run well at all three places. This is a perfect scenario for me. I'm excited.

"I'd love to make a move up in the points before the end of the year. We're in seventh place and I'd like to finish in the top five. It can be done. All I need to do is win a few more rounds than the two guys in front of me and we'll pass them up. The main thing is to stay focused whenever I'm in the car and take advantage of the chances I get. If I can do that then the points will take care of themselves."

Same-day television coverage of the fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals will be divided into two shows on ESPN2. The first round of eliminations will air from 2:30-4 p.m. (ET), Sunday, Oct. 29. The remainder of the elimination rounds will be broadcast later that day from 7:30-10 p.m., with a rebroadcast at 1-3 p.m. (ET) Monday afternoon.

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Series NHRA