Reading Richie Stevens Finals report

READING, Penn. (Sept. 19) -- The sophomore season of Richie "The Kid" Stevens continues to get better and better. The 20-year-old from New Orleans beat veteran Bruce Allen in the first round of Sunday's elimination action at the 15th annual True...

READING, Penn. (Sept. 19) -- The sophomore season of Richie "The Kid" Stevens continues to get better and better. The 20-year-old from New Orleans beat veteran Bruce Allen in the first round of Sunday's elimination action at the 15th annual True Value Keystone Nationals, resetting his career-best number of elimination round wins to 18.

Last season, Stevens won a total of 17 elimination round wins en route to a ninth place finish in the Winston championship points standings. Regardless of the outcome of today's race, Stevens will remain in fifth place in this year's Winston points standings.

Driving his Valspar Refinish Pontiac Firebird, Stevens started the day at a slight disadvantage, having surrendered lane choice to Allen with a slightly slower qualifying time. But when the lights flashed the younger Stevens blasted off the starting line in .439 seconds ahead of Allen's .482 launch. Then, almost immediately, Allen encountered severe tire shake and aborted his run as Stevens went on to post a 7.022-second, 195.69-mph pass to take the victory.

"Both Bruce and I shook real hard," Stevens said. "I was just lucky enough to drive through it. The Valspar car was shaking pretty much all the way through the gears until I hit high gear. Then she finally smoothed out.

"The guy that ran in front of us went off the end of the track and we didn't realize it until we had both done our pre-race burnout. So they shut us off and we had to do a second burnout once they cleared the track. I think that jacked up our set-up. I know the clutch must have been hot.

"But, we got the win and that's all that matters. I didn't even realize that lap meant we passed last year's total. It's good to hear that sort of stuff. We expected to do better this year. It's great to reach this point now with five more races left."

Stevens will now face Mark Pawuk in the quarterfinal round. Pawuk, who is just behind Stevens in the points standings, beat Mike Trumble with a 6.907-second lap at 198.32 mph.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk , Bruce Allen , Mike Trumble