HOUSTON (Oct. 27) -- Upstart driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens streaked to the No. 2 qualifying position at the fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals with an impressive Friday night pass of 6.909 seconds at 197.71 mph in his Valspar Refinish ...
HOUSTON (Oct. 27) -- Upstart driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens streaked to the No. 2 qualifying position at the fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals with an impressive Friday night pass of 6.909 seconds at 197.71 mph in his Valspar Refinish Firebird. The run was just four-thousandths of a second off the pace set by frontrunner Ron Krisher.
"That's a great way to start a race weekend," Stevens said. "I've always loved this track because it's been good to me from the start and I love it even more now. I don't know what it is about this place but even when I was driving a Junior Dragster here, I always had good luck at Houston Raceway Park. It's like my own brand of home cooking."
Stevens, a 22-year-old from New Orleans, cut his drag racing teeth at Houston Raceway Park in the early 1990's behind the wheel of a Junior Dragster. He then graduated to the professional ranks, the first Junior Dragster pilot to do so, and quickly became the youngest Pro Stock winner of all-time.
Today's impressive quarter-mile lap for Stevens came courtesy of NBA player and part-time NHRA competitor Tom Hammonds. The power forward, who resumed his regular job with the Minnesota Timberwolves a few races ago, asked Stevens to use his No. 1 motor to see if it was working properly. Hammonds struggled during his brief NHRA stint this year and his crew is trying to eliminate potential problems.
"Tom wanted to see if the motor was the problem and since both of us run similar engines he asked me to give it a trail run," Stevens said. "The motor looked great on the dyno but just didn't work in his car. I can tell him now without a doubt that this motor isn't the problem. This thing is stout.
"I'd like to leave it in there for the whole weekend. We have the car all set up for it. But if they don't want to wear it out then we'll switch back to our piece. Either way, I think we'll be fine. We both get our stuff freshened up at Ron Krisher's shop and his guys tell me that all of the motors are strong. We'll have to see what Tom wants to do.
"What matters the most is that we made two great runs today and we're right near the top of the ladder. This is starting out perfect for us. So far, so good."
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. 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.