Phoenix: Richie Stevens Jr Saturday summary

Mopar Pro Stocker Stevens Jr. qualifies No. 4 in Phoenix CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 25, 2006) - For the second straight race of the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Richie Stevens, Jr. has qualified the Team Mopar/Valspar HEMI-powered Dodge ...

Mopar Pro Stocker Stevens Jr. qualifies No. 4 in Phoenix

CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 25, 2006) - For the second straight race of the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Richie Stevens, Jr. has qualified the Team Mopar/Valspar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus R/T in the top half of the Pro Stock field. This time he looks to take advantage of his No. 4 qualifying position and run deeper into Sunday's elimination rounds at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird Raceway.

The New Orleans native opened qualifying with a 6.732-second elapsed time at 204.57 mph on Friday, then kicked it up a notch in the cooler night conditions, posting a 6.685/205.38, his quickest of the weekend and equal in ET to reigning Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson's run at the time for No. 2. Stevens was relegated to No. 3 because of speed.

Saturday's warmer conditions produced a 6.707/205.63 and a 6.739/204.82 for Stevens, and he lost one spot to qualify No. 4. Anderson moved to the front with a 6.671/206.83 and Jason Line squeaked in ahead of Stevens with a 6.684/205.98.

Stevens is happy with the effort and believes Team Mopar/Valspar is on the right track. "It's not as good as last year (No. 1), but we'll take it," he said. "It puts us in the top half of the field and gives us lane choice.

"We'll try and do what we can. We want to go some rounds, and obviously that starts with the first round. That's where we'll start."

He is the quickest qualifying Mopar in the field, and is inspired by the progress Mopar has made in the Pro Stock class. "We are on the right page; we've picked up some ground from last year. We are qualifying strong, and I feel like we've picked up some ground on Greg (Anderson). As the year progresses we'll get stronger. We are right there with everyone. The Mopar cars are looking good."

Stevens' rookie teammate Shaun Carlson failed to make the Pro Stock field for the second consecutive race, so he would like to run strong tomorrow to take the focus off Carlson. "He just needs some time, and hopefully we can give him that time," said Stevens. "If I am running strong and winning rounds, then I think that will help out."

For now, Stevens is focused on Sunday's final eliminations where he will square off in the first round against Dave Connolly.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Greg Anderson , Jason Line , Shaun Carlson , Dave Connolly