Reading Deja vu for Valspar crew

READING, Penn. (Sept. 17) -- Do not adjust your television when you tune into this weekend's 15th annual True Value Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway -- there actually are two Valspar Refinish machines competing at this year's event. As...

READING, Penn. (Sept. 17) -- Do not adjust your television when you tune into this weekend's 15th annual True Value Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway -- there actually are two Valspar Refinish machines competing at this year's event.

As usual, Richie "The Kid" Stevens will continue to captain his No. 9 Pontiac Firebird as he vies for his second win of the 1999 National Hot Rod Association season. Stevens will also pursue his season-long championship points chase, which currently sees him in fifth place. The newcomer in the Valspar pit for this event, and perhaps several more races this season, is long-time Pro Stock and sportsman stalwart Don Beverly.

"Mr. Beverly will be driving our new (Jerry) Bickel car that we recently picked up," Stevens said. "It's actually a 1999 model, newer than the one I race, but we haven't had a chance to break it in completely. So Mr. Beverly asked if he could drive and we said 'sure.' Our sponsor Valspar should love it. They're getting two cars for the price of one this weekend."

Although he hasn't competed in over five years, Beverly is no stranger to drag racing. He won two national events in 1992 (Atlanta and Denver) and captured the title of the Keystone Nationals in 1986. Beverly also built, owned, operated and raced as a sportsman at Virginia Motorsports Park, where he regained his Pro Stock license earlier this week.

"This is a great car," Beverly said. "We ran a 6.98, 6.99 and a 7.02 during my licensing runs. That's not bad right out of the box. As soon as we get tuned to this track, we should be in good shape. We suffered a little from driver error today. But I'll make the field. You can bet on that."

Stevens was his usual steady self in Friday's first two rounds of qualifying. His first lap of 6.963 seconds at 197.32 mph was his best of the day and earned him the 11th qualifying spot. In Round 2 Stevens got slightly out of the groove and slowed to a 6.98.

"Both of these laps today were horrible," Stevens said. "I was kind of surprised we ran as well as we did in Round 1. The car was shaking every time I pulled a gear and I thought we'd be slower than we were. I guess we should be happy that we're still in the field pretty solid even though we didn't make that good of a lap all day. I picked up the front end too high (in the second session.) The starting line here is actually way better than we thought. By the time the wheels came down I was too far right and I fought to get the car back in the groove. That cost us some time for sure.

"We're going to be good tomorrow. If we can get a decent run down, we'll be way up there with the top teams. I know this car can run a bunch quicker than it showed today."

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Series NHRA