Indy ORP: Team Mopar Sunday notes

STEVENS EARNS NO. 11 IN U.S. NATIONALS QUALIFYING Richie Stevens Jr. struggled through qualifying for the prestigious U.S. Nationals, finally qualifying the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T in No. 11 following the final of five sessions ...

STEVENS EARNS NO. 11 IN U.S. NATIONALS QUALIFYING

Richie Stevens Jr. struggled through qualifying for the prestigious U.S. Nationals, finally qualifying the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T in No. 11 following the final of five sessions held.

He posted his quickest time, a 6.680-second lap at 205.79 mph, in the fourth round today, moving him from outside the field into the No. 11 spot. He held onto that spot through the final qualifying session. His other attempts included a 6.725/205.69, a 6.710/205.91, a 14.590/69.26 and finally a 6.755/205.72.

"We did better than we did last year," he said of his 2006 DNQ. "That was my goal. We went up there for the run this morning and I was thinking about last year. I'm not going to miss it two years in a row. Just went up there and tried to do the best we could.

"We had been struggling. We shook every run up until this morning and we went right down the track this morning. That's what we needed to do. It was a conservative run, it had a little bit left in it, but it was enough to get down the track, and it leaves us with plenty to play with tomorrow.

"Tonight we made a somewhat decent run, we got down the right lane tonight and a lot of people didn't. It was kind of a crazy run but at least we got down. We got some data for that lane. We won't have lane choice so we'll probably be in the right lane.

"We have Justin (Humphreys) in the first round. I've never raced him before. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully we'll go some rounds. I just want to do better than we did here in 2005 (the year he fled Hurricane Katrina in his hometown of New Orleans and reached the final round). Instead of a runner-up, hopefully we'll get a win."

A.J. COLLECTS NO. 4 IN U.S. NATS QUALIFYING

Allen Johnson was quick right out of the box in his Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T, qualifying eventually in No. 4 after holding onto the No. 2 or 3 spot through three rounds of qualifying.

His quickest pass came early, in the first session on Friday, a 6.661/206.57, which was followed by a 6.665/206.57, a 6.679/206.35, a 6.670/206.86 and finally a 6.727/206.04.

"My Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus was just flawless all weekend in qualifying and the motor ran really well," said Johnson. "We made good calls, we're right where we wanted to be.

"I think the lane choice here is absolutely critical. We got it first round. We're going to have to really make a good run first round to keep it for second round because we run Kurt (Johnson) if we win and he's running really good too. The challenge is here, we just have to step up to it."

Johnson faces Craig Hankinson in the opening round of eliminations in the new Countdown to Four playoffs.

-credit: dsr/mopar

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Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr. , Allen Johnson , Craig Hankinson