STEVENS' CONFIDENCE ON THE RISE HEADING INTO 2006 NHRA SEASON OPENER POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 7, 2006) - Richie Stevens Jr. has a little more pep in his step as he prepares for his sophomore campaign in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series' Pro...
STEVENS' CONFIDENCE ON THE RISE HEADING INTO 2006 NHRA SEASON OPENER
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 7, 2006) - Richie Stevens Jr. has a little more pep in his step as he prepares for his sophomore campaign in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series' Pro Stock class, beginning this weekend at Pomona Raceway at the CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals.
The New Orleans native is riding high after strong off-season testing results at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last week. Stevens qualified No. 1 for the Pro Stock Showdown with a 6.757-second pass at 203.19 mph (quicker and faster than the official track record set at The Strip by Greg Anderson) and was a semifinal finisher after defeating V. Gaines and reigning Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson. He fouled out against eventual event winner Larry Morgan but went home buoyed by the car's performance.
"We did real good in testing and we have a lot of new stuff to try out, so I'm very excited about our chances this weekend in Pomona," said Stevens. "The Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge is producing a lot of power and we haven't been having any problems with the clutch, which just adds to our confidence."
His confidence also stems from having one year under his belt at DSR. "Coming into my second season here at DSR," said Stevens, "I'm just much more relaxed. I'm not as intimidated by Don (Schumacher, team owner) and Bob (Glidden, crew chief) as I was last year. I feel like this year I will be able to focus on the racing, and not worry about some of the other stuff. I think last year I was maybe trying too hard to impress people, and now I don't feel that.
"We have a very strong race car, capable of winning right out of the gate. Bob has been making tremendous horsepower out of these engines. Everyone seems pleased with the progress so far, and I know Bob is ready to get on the track at Pomona."
The Winternationals is the first race with his new teammate Shaun Carlson. The pair gives the team a hip, youthful, with-it image. "He and I get along real good," said Stevens. "He has been associated with Mopar for a couple years, so I think he will be real good for Mopar in the Pro Stock class. He'll get stronger as he gets more and more seat time.
"With my dark spiked hair and Shaun's blonde spiked hair, there seems to be a bit of an edge there. I was giving Bob a hard time that we might have to get him some hair gel.
"Between the two of us, I don't see why we won't be winning some races and, when it's all said and done, hopefully we'll be running for the championship."
At the 2005 Winternationals, Stevens qualified 10th and lost the first round to Greg Anderson.