STEVENS GOES TO HIS SECOND FINAL ROUND OF SEASON AT U.S. NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 5, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. was walking around at the U.S. Nationals this weekend in a kind of haze because of the destruction he left behind in New Orleans...
STEVENS GOES TO HIS SECOND FINAL ROUND OF SEASON AT U.S. NATIONALS
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 5, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. was walking around at the U.S. Nationals this weekend in a kind of haze because of the destruction he left behind in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina, but his head was clear and sharp on the quarter-mile today in final eliminations. The New Orleans native made it into the Pro Stock final round for the second time this season, his first with Don Schumacher Racing driving the Team Mopar/Valspar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus R/T.
After defeating Larry Morgan (6.772/203.34), Kurt Johnson (6.764/204.01) and Mark Pawuk (6.777/203.19), Stevens faced the reigning two-time Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson in the final round for all the marbles. There was no doubt that winning his first race for DSR, his first at the U.S. Nationals and his first of 2005 against a driver who has dominated this class was going to be a challenge.
The pair took off with nearly identical reaction times: .071 for Anderson, .073 for Stevens. But it was Anderson all the way, collecting the victory with a 6.718-second pass at 205.26 mph to Stevens' 6.779/203.98. Margin of victory: .0632 of a second.
"We knew going up there that we needed some luck on our side going against Greg," said Stevens, who has four career wins to his credit. "He's been running flawlessly all weekend, in qualifying and eliminations. He's unbeatable. You have to give it to him. He's got his act together right now and he's doing a hell of a job getting that car down the track.
"I knew I had my work cut out for me. I went up there and just tried to do my best. We left dead even. Both of us really had bad lights (reaction times) for what we normally have and I had to leave ahead of him if I had a chance to beat him. But because I left right with him I knew I didn't have a chance unless he shut off.
"But to make it to the finals is good. After the week I've had it's excellent. It keeps us up in the points a little bit."
Stevens is now tied in seventh place with Ron Krisher.
"It was a good weekend overall," he said. "We've been in a slumpo lately. The last seven races have been either round-1 or even round-2 losses, so to make it to the finals here in Indy is great. It would have been nice to get that win, but maybe it'll happen next time."
He received only one gift en route to the final round today, in the second round against Kurt Johnson.
"Going up against Larry the first round was a tough one. Any first round is tough and Larry's gotten me twice this year already and I owed him one, for sure. Luckily we got around him.
"And Kurt is always a tough one. Thankfully, we had kind of a bye run because Kurt shut off early in that round.
"And Pawuk came out of nowhere," he said of the driver who, after a sabbatical, qualified for his first race this year here. "He showed up at this race and ran excellent. He put up probably the toughest race of the day. It was a .0061 (of a second) margin of victory at the end and it was close the whole way down. I was hoping I was ahead of him. I thought I had him and luckily I did.
"We got to the finals. I'm happy. I think everybody on the team is very happy. We'll just move on to the next one."
Crew chief Bob Glidden, who is no stranger to the winner's circle here at the U.S. Nationals, having won a record nine Pro Stock events, was truly a happy man. "Richie did just a great job for us today," he said. "He kind of dragged us out of the trenches. We've not been faring too well the last few races. He did a great job for us."
Will Stevens return to New Orleans now? "I haven't heard anything more about my house," he responded. "All I can do is hope for the best. I am going to go from here to my parents' house on Lake Pontchartrain and then I have to turn around and go to Atlanta for a Mopar event next weekend.
"I've got to get back home. I've got to bring my mom her truck becauese I left that in Mississippi (driving up from New Orleans to Indy). I have to at least get that to her and turn around and head out again.
"There's really nothing to go home to. They said they're not letting anyone just yet into the area (where my house is). I'll probably just get there, give my mom her truck, say hi and bye and leave again."
Next up is the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa., Sept. 16-18, 2005.