Memphis: Stevens No. 1 qualifier

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Oct. 6) -- Powered by a borrowed motor, Richie "The Kid" Stevens marched to the top of the Pro Stock class with a career-best quarter-mile pass of 6.836-seconds at 198.96 mph. The impressive lap earned Stevens the provisional pole...

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Oct. 6) -- Powered by a borrowed motor, Richie "The Kid" Stevens marched to the top of the Pro Stock class with a career-best quarter-mile pass of 6.836-seconds at 198.96 mph. The impressive lap earned Stevens the provisional pole of the 13th annual AutoZone Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park with two rounds of professional qualifying yet to be contested.

Stevens hurt his primary motor in Friday's opening session and his crew went to work installing their back-up piece. But another problem was detected with the No. 2 engine and the search began for an emergency replacement.

"We broke a lifter in the motor in Round 1 and then found out our back-up engine had a problem also," Stevens said. "We were in a big-time bind and time was running out. I went over to Ron Krisher's pit and asked him if we could borrow a motor because his are a lot like ours. He said they had a test motor we could use and we went to work putting it in.

"We barely got done in time and when I did my burnout before the run it was making a weird noise. Man, I was thinking we were in trouble. But when I hit the throttle that thing felt like one of the (800-cubic inch) mountain motors I used to run in the IHRA. It was pulling so hard all the way down the track. It's unbelievable that I was getting power like that out of a 500-inch motor.

"I can't thank Ron and his crew enough. His engine builders Rocky Roberts and Jimmy Oliver are making some awesome horsepower. I'm not even sure if we can keep this engine in there for the rest of the weekend; I haven't talked to him about that yet. But just to do this tonight is awesome. That actually felt like a career-best run."

If the elapsed time holds through tomorrow's two sessions, this would be the second No. 1 qualifying effort of Stevens' career. The 22-year-old from New Orleans, who has won three events on the NHRA tour, last earned the pole in Topeka, Kan., in 1999.

"I wish my dad (Richie Stevens Sr.) was here tonight," said Stevens, the youngest Pro Stock winner in NHRA history. "He's never missed a race since I've been driving but he wasn't feeling well on the way to the airport and he decided to stay home. I talked to him before the run and he seemed fine. Maybe this will help him feel better."

Qualifying highlights will air at 8 p.m. (ET), Saturday, on Speedvision. Same-day coverage of the elimination rounds will begin at 5:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday, also on Speedvision.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Krisher