Las Vegas Richie ''Kid'' Stevens hot in Vegas, eyes successful Sunday

LAS VEGAS (April 8) -- For the 24th consecutive race, Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens has earned his way into the elimination field of a National Hot Rod Association event. Stevens' latest conquest came at The Strip at...

LAS VEGAS (April 8) -- For the 24th consecutive race, Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens has earned his way into the elimination field of a National Hot Rod Association event. Stevens' latest conquest came at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during this weekend's inaugural NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals.

Like most of the cars in the competitive field, Stevens used his run from the cooler Friday night session to earn a spot in Sunday's elimination action. The 21-year-old from New Orleans posted a 7.077-second, 192.85-mph pass under the lights, his quickest lap of the weekend. The effort placed him in fifth place overall heading into Race Day, which represents his best qualifying finish of the year.

"It's great to qualify so well," Stevens said. "It helps us in the Winston points and in the Holley Dominator points also. The Valspar Pontiac really likes this track. The facility here is awesome and every lap made the track better and better. I like our chances."

Stevens will open with lane choice over No. 12 qualifier Tom Martino. This marks the second race in a row in which Stevens and Martino have squared off in the opening round. Stevens took the win in the last meeting. Martino's best lap of this weekend was a 7.099-second pass at 196.10 mph.

If successful against Martino, Stevens will face either engine supplier Warren Johnson or his son Kurt Johnson. Per their agreement, Stevens would be forced to remove his W.J.-supplied powerplant at that point and use his back-up motor, which the crew has nicknamed "Woody."

"It'll be tough on us because we're at altitude here and the tune-up for Woody will be different here then it normally is," Stevens said. "We'll do what we can. Woody ran well in testing last week so maybe we can pull one out of the bag.

"I'm not even going to worry about it now because I need to be thinking about Tommy. He is one of the best drivers on the circuit with one of the best cars so I'll be lucky to get by him in Round 1. Hopefully, I'll continue the good reaction times I had in Gainesville and give this Valspar car a chance to win. That's all we can ask for."

Same-day elimination round coverage of the inaugural NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals will be aired from 10:30 p.m. to midnight (ET and PT), Sunday on TNN.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tom Martino