DEFENDING EVENT CHAMP STEVENS EXITS IN QUARTERFINALS AT LAS VEGAS Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T driver Richie Stevens Jr. couldn't reclaim the magic that took him to a 2006 Vegas win. The Louisiana native advanced as far as the ...
DEFENDING EVENT CHAMP STEVENS EXITS IN QUARTERFINALS AT LAS VEGAS
Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T driver Richie Stevens Jr. couldn't reclaim the magic that took him to a 2006 Vegas win. The Louisiana native advanced as far as the quarterfinals today at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, the first event in the Countdown to One two-race title shootout, but his luck ran out in a second-round battle with event winner Greg Anderson.
Stevens qualified sixth and drew "The Professor," Warren Johnson, in the first round. A reaction time of .057 and a 6.775-second elapsed time at 203.74 mph propelled Stevens to a winning margin of five feet against Johnson, who clocked in with a slower starting light (.070) and a losing pass of 6.777 at 203.95 mph.
In the quarterfinals match against Anderson, Stevens had the chance to duplicate his performance at the previous event in Richmond, Va., and knock off one of teammate Allen Johnson's competitors in the Countdown to One. Despite a very slight edge off the line (with a .028 reaction time to Anderson's .029) Stevens couldn't do to Anderson what he did to Kurt Johnson at Richmond. His pass of 6.813 at 202.70 wasn't enough to beat Anderson's run of 6.765 at 204.20.
"We found between rounds that we had a vacuum leak," said Stevens, who maintained his grip on the No. 9 spot in the Pro Stock points standings. "We searched and searched and we couldn't pinpoint it. Depending upon how many pounds of pressure you lose, that equals horsepower that you lose on the track. It definitely hurt us. It's one of those freak deals. It's something that snuck up on us. It probably got worse and worse each round.
"We just went up there and tried to throw everything we had against Greg. I tried to get him at the lights and he was right there with me. Just about every other time we've run him, he's been right there with me. We just came up short.
"We'll go to California, and we've got one shot left. We'll try to do some damage out there."
CUTDOWN COMES TOO SOON FOR COUNTDOWN COMPETITOR ALLEN JOHNSON AT VEGAS
Allen Johnson's hopes for his first career NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship took a huge hit today at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals. Johnson, the No. 8 qualifier and No. 4 in the Countdown to One standings, lost a crucial first-round match-up with Jeg Coughlin, runner-up today and now second in the Countdown to One.
The driver of the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T coupled a .020 reaction time with a run of 6.870 at 202.58, but it wasn't enough to best Coughlin's 6.822-second elapsed time at 203.71 mph.
"We went on offense, like we talked about," said Johnson, who captured one win this year, in July at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver, Colo. "We just got a little too aggressive, and the track couldn't hold it."
Johnson remains fourth in the Countdown to One standings, but is a distant 103 points behind leader Greg Anderson entering the final event.
"It's an unfortunate way to end it today, but we'll hold out a little bit of hope. Everybody did their best, and that's all you can ask for. It just didn't work out and it wasn't our day."