INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1) -- Valspar Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens didn't have a career run Friday night during his first time trail pass at the 46th annual U.S. Nationals, but he did run quick enough to make the provisional field of 16...
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1) -- Valspar Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens didn't have a career run Friday night during his first time trail pass at the 46th annual U.S. Nationals, but he did run quick enough to make the provisional field of 16 cars qualified for Monday's elimination action.
Stevens, a 21-year-old from New Orleans, drove his award-winning Pontiac Firebird through the timers in 7.060 seconds at 194.13 mph to earn the 15th spot on the ladder. The No. 1 qualifier, Kurt Johnson, recorded a 6.986-second pass at 197.39 mph.
"In drag racing you have to go straight down the track," said Stevens. "I let the clutch out that time and the car went so far left I thought I was going to hit the Christmas Tree. Somehow, it stayed hooked to the track even though I was way out of the groove and I was able to bring it back to the center without any problems. We still ran a pretty decent lap but when you don't take the shortest route to the finish it cuts into your time.
"The launching pad here is really good and the car bit into it a little more than usual. I carried the front wheels up pretty high and that's probably why I went left. What's nice is we still ran the second best 60-foot time of the day and we're still in the field even though we didn't have a perfect run. That tells me we have a lot of power to work with. If I can get this car pointed straight we'll definitely pick up tomorrow or Sunday."
The unique four-day format of the U.S. Nationals calls for two more days of qualifying Saturday and Sunday with eliminations beginning Monday morning. Stevens, and the rest of the assembled pros, will have four more chances to improve on the times they posted today in Round 1.
Same-day television coverage of the elimination rounds of the 46th annual U.S. Nationals will air Labor Day on TNN. Qualifying and first-round action will be broadcast from noon-2 p.m. ET with final eliminations airing from 5-7 p.m. ET, Monday, Sept. 4.