RICHIE STEVENS JR. NABS NO. 1 ON FRIDAY NIGHT IN PHOENIX; SCELZI SETS TRACK-RECORD SPEED CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 25, 2005) - In only his second race for Don Schumacher Racing in the Team Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus Pro Stock, Richie Stevens...
RICHIE STEVENS JR. NABS NO. 1 ON FRIDAY NIGHT IN PHOENIX; SCELZI SETS TRACK-RECORD SPEED
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 25, 2005) - In only his second race for Don Schumacher Racing in the Team Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus Pro Stock, Richie Stevens Jr. nabbed the No. 1 qualifying spot with a 6.735-second elapsed time at 205.35 mph in tonight's second qualifying session, setting both ends of the track record at Firebird Raceway.
This effort came on the heels of a two-day testing session at the quarter-mile in Tucson, Ariz., following a washout at The Strip in Las Vegas, where the team originally planned to test.
"We tried to figure out this six-inch clutch and I think we got a handle on it down at Tucson," said Stevens, 26, of New Orleans. "The air is a little different than here, but it definitely helped us out, and it showed good tonight. The six-inch clutch is new, it's smaller, lighter. Everybody is using it; we just got a late start testing with it. That's what we did all day in Tucson the other day. We tried to get a handle on the six-inch clutch."
Stevens drove both the Jeg's Mail Order/Mopar Dodge Stratus as well as his Team Mopar Dodge in Tucson. "We needed to get some time in those two cars," he said. "We haven't had much test time since the start of the season. I'm still getting the feel for it. I think I've got it pretty down pat now. We could still use some test time, but obviously it's going in the right direction."
Until this season, Stevens has not been in the seat of a Pro Stock car since 2003, and he clearly has had no problem adjusting. "I tell you what. It's like riding a bike," he said. "It came back to me real quick. And I'm just glad to be out here. Don Schumacher gave me this chance to come back and have fun and race and be with a good team, backed by Mopar, by my other sponsor Valspar, and it's great. Having Bob Glidden as crew chief, you couldn't ask for a better person. I'm just thrilled to be here and this is a good way to start the season off."
He's also driving a different brand of car this year. "This Dodge accelerates a lot faster than any other NHRA Pro Stock car I've ever driven. The acceleration in the first 60 to 100 feet is quick. It gets the job done."
If his ET holds up following two more qualifying sessions on Saturday, this will be Stevens' second career No. 1. His first was in Topeka in 1999.
OTHER MOPAR/SCHUMACHER NEWS: Gary Scelzi, driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car, set the track record for top speed in tonight's second qualifying session, a 327.66-mph run at 4.770 seconds, placing him No. 4 in the field.