Pomona Richie Stevens Preview

STEVENS LOOKING FOR CONFIDENCE BOOSTER AT POMONA RACEWAY POMONA, Calif. - Richie Stevens, widely feared among Pro Stock competitors for his superior reaction times, is clinging to fifth place in the NHRA Winston Pro Stock point standings...

STEVENS LOOKING FOR CONFIDENCE BOOSTER AT POMONA RACEWAY POMONA, Calif. - Richie Stevens, widely feared among Pro Stock competitors for his superior reaction times, is clinging to fifth place in the NHRA Winston Pro Stock point standings despite a stretch of races where he's hit an uncharacteristic driver's slump. In three straight races, Stevens suffered holeshot defeats, where his Valspar Refinish Pontiac posted a quicker elapsed time than his opponent, but his reaction at the starting line was slower. "I need a confidence booster," Stevens said. "Right now the only thing holding us back is me." Perhaps a return to sunny Southern California will revive the sluggish Stevens, the defending Pro Stock winner of the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. He hopes to defend his victory, which was his career-first, at Pomona Raceway, Nov. 11-14. Stevens, from New Orleans, defeated Jeg Coughlin in the final round last year at the $1.7 million race, the final of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. After qualifying No. 1 at Topeka, Kan., Stevens was upset by No.16 qualifier and eventual race winner Mike Edwards on a holeshot. At Memphis, Tenn., Stevens was again defeated by Edwards at the starting line. At Dallas, Allen Johnson used a holeshot to defeat Stevens in the opening round. " I feel bad for the team and Tommy (Utt, crew chief)," Stevens said. "They've had the car in top shape during the last several races and I keep throwing it all away. I just can't get a light. I don't know what it is. I practice quite a bit and cut good lights. If I knew what to do to change this trend I would do it. I guess I'll just have to keep racing and get through it." Which shouldn't be hard to do. Stevens has had an impressive season, otherwise. He has earned one win in four finals and set career-bests for elapsed time (6.861 seconds) and speed (200.08 mph). Still, the pain lingers from the last few races. He hopes to turn the trend at Pomona. "I can't believe I lost those races on holeshots," Stevens said. "To lose a race because the other guy has a better car is one thing, but to lose because you get beat on the tree, that makes you mad." RACE FOR SECOND PLACE: While Warren Johnson has already clinched his fifth Pro Stock championship, Kurt Johnson and Jeg Coughlin are still locked in a battle for second place. "Every point counts now," said K. Johnson, driver of the AC Delco Camaro Z-28, who suffered a first round loss at Dallas. "We've got to get to work and make sure the car goes down the race track." Coughlin, who won at Pomona to open the season, is currently third, and closing. "We're going through our car with a fine-tooth comb before the Finals," said Coughlin, driver of the Jeg's Mail Order Oldsmobile Cutlass. "We've got to be ready to earn as many points as we can."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Allen Johnson , Mike Edwards