Phoenix: Richie Stevens Jr preview

RICHIE STEVENS JR. ON AN UPSWING CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 21, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. is aiming high this season in the Pro Stock Car class of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. It's his first full season in that category since 2000, in...

RICHIE STEVENS JR. ON AN UPSWING

CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 21, 2005) - Richie Stevens Jr. is aiming high this season in the Pro Stock Car class of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. It's his first full season in that category since 2000, in which he competed in all 23 events. His 2001 year included 19, and his 2002 season was cut short at 13.

The New Orleans native ran a limited schedule of four events in 2003 and had just a handful of starts in the Pro Mod class in 2004, so he's thrilled to have already established his career quickest elapsed time and fastest speed after only one event in 2005.

Driving in his initial race for Don Schumacher Racing in the Team Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus R/T at the season-opening Pomona Raceway event, Stevens clocked a 6.740-second ET while qualifying No. 10, and posted a speed of 205.51 mph, despite losing the first round of eliminations to reigning two-time Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson.

Not bad results for the 26-year-old whose previous best numbers were a 6.851-second ET (Englishtown 2002) and 201.79 mph (also in Englishtown 2002).

Stevens won his first national event in 1998 as a rookie, a career total of four wins through 2003 and remains the youngest driver to have won a Pro Stock national event, at 20 and one month, at Pomona 2 in '98.

"I'm thrilled," he said. "We had a good showing in the first race, although we didn't win the first round. Both my teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. (also new to Don Schumacher Racing) and I qualified , which was our main accomplishment." Both cars are tuned by the legendary Bob Glidden.

The quarter-mile at Firebird Raceway has not been successful for Stevens in the past, but he expects that to change this weekend. "I'm looking forward to going to Phoenix. I haven't had the best of luck here in previous attempts, but maybe it will turn around this year," he said. "I'm in a better car, with a better team and have better equipment. We should do well here.

"We're testing on Monday and Tuesday at The Strip in Las Vegas, and that ought to give us an edge on the field and hopefully we'll learn some things and carry them over to Phoenix with us.

"Firebird has just not been one of my favorite stops on the tour," he added, "but if I win on Sunday it will definitely become one of my favorite places. My attitude could change very quickly."

One of Stevens' highlights this season is to have a teammate in Coughlin, who drives the Jeg's Mail Order/Moper Dodge for Don Schumacher Racing, with whom to share data and social time. "Having Jeg as a teammate is a real bonus," he said. "I've never had a teammate that I could go to and just talk to. It kind of takes the pressure off. We just kind of kick back between rounds and we'll talk about things other than racing. It's nice to have somebody else in there doing the same job as I'm doing, to socialize with. It's definitely a plus."

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Richie Stevens Jr. , Greg Anderson , Bob Glidden , Don Schumacher