Playing A Spoiler Role Suits Richie Stevens Jr. as He Looks to Defend ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals Title Center Line, Mich. -- Team MoparÂ® and Don Schumacher Racing driver Richie Stevens Jr. isn't in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock title chase.
Playing A Spoiler Role Suits Richie Stevens Jr. as He Looks to Defend ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals Title
Center Line, Mich. -- Team Mopar® and Don Schumacher Racing driver Richie Stevens Jr. isn't in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock title chase. Nevertheless, he continues to fight for every round win. Heading into this weekend, the Louisiana native is looking to defend his event title and aid teammate Allen Johnson in his Countdown to 1 playoff drive at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals scheduled for Oct. 26 - 28.
At the previous NHRA event in Richmond, Stevens was the ideal teammate, piloting his Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T to the semifinals. By defeating Kurt Johnson, he ensured [Allen] Johnson, part of the J&J Racing team that maintains and tunes Stevens' Stratus R/T, a spot in the two-race Countdown to 1 title shootout. Stevens would like nothing better than to bump off more of Johnson's Countdown competition while defending his 2006 Vegas event title.
"Our motivation is good," said Stevens, who is currently ninth in the points standings. "Really, I'm focused on A.J.'s car and trying to get him into that championship spot and get him where he needs to be. I'm going in as the defending event champ and it would be nice to win the race and obviously that's my goal. It would be nice to make a name for myself and make sure I have a seat next year."
Stevens added, "I feel pretty good. We're coming off a good race at Richmond. We did pretty well there. I took care of [Kurt] Johnson in the second round and solidified a spot for A.J. in the Countdown. He [A.J.] was pumped up. It was neat to see it, and I was glad to do it for them. They've been really good people to me, Allen and his dad [Roy Johnson, J&J Racing's co-owner and engine builder], and Mark [Ingersoll, crew chief for Stevens and Johnson], and everybody else on the team. To help them out when they needed it, it felt good."
He concluded, "Being that I'm not a contender in the Countdown, the ultimate goal would be to qualify on the opposite side of the ladder [as AJ] and possibly draw one of the other three guys in the Countdown in the first round and possibly take them out. But it's so hard to just qualify in the field, much less to jockey for position. I guess we just have to hope for the best and hope that I end up racing Jeggy [Coughlin], Greg [Anderson] or Dave [Connolly] in the first round."