READING, Penn. (Sept. 18) -- Extending his current streak to 16 straight races, Richie "The Kid" Stevens successfully qualified his Valspar Refinish Pontiac for the elimination rounds of a National Hot Rod Association event. This week the ...
READING, Penn. (Sept. 18) -- Extending his current streak to 16 straight races, Richie "The Kid" Stevens successfully qualified his Valspar Refinish Pontiac for the elimination rounds of a National Hot Rod Association event. This week the 20-year-old from New Orleans will be vying for the title of the 15th annual True Value Keystone Nationals when head-to-head racing begins Sunday morning at Maple Grove Raceway.
Stevens needed a 6.940-second lap at 197.54 mph in Saturday's fourth and final qualifying session to grab the No. 13 spot in the 16-car field. Meanwhile, his temporary teammate Don Beverly could only manage a 7.038-second pass at 195.56 mph and failed to advance to Sunday's action in Stevens' back-up Valspar Refinish car.
"I'd be on the outside looking in if I hadn't hit it in Round 4," Stevens said. "I made it because, for the first time this weekend, the car stayed straight all the way down the track. It was still bumping and jumping just like it did in the other three rounds. But I managed to keep it straight this time and we got in. After four runs I think I've finally learned how to get down the strip.
"Now we clear the table and start over fresh tomorrow. It doesn't really matter how we made it, we're in there and we'll be earning more points on Sunday. That's what's important."
Stevens opens against No. 4 qualifier Bruce Allen, who recorded his career-best elapsed time and top speed this weekend with a pass of 6.905 seconds at 200.17 mph. "Bruce is a class guy and it will be an honor to race him," Stevens said. "May the best man win."
Earlier in the day, Stevens drifted out of the groove and could only manage a time of 6.977 seconds at 197.23 mph in a session that saw several improved times and top speeds. "Our car shook pretty hard in second gear and that caused it to wobble around," Stevens said. "She got out of the groove and when that happens at this track, you just end up losing all your speed.
"I really didn't know how good of a session that was until it was over and I heard what everyone else had done. We were the third pair out so I missed the opportunity to see how everyone was running. It would have helped if we could have seen more passes before we ran so that we could have made some better adjustments. That's the luck of the draw sometimes."
Beverly completed his two full laps under power in Rounds 3 and 4. He carded a 7.041-second lap at 195.38 mph in the morning and the 7.038-second pass at 195.56 mph Saturday night. "We made some decent runs and had some fun this weekend," Beverly said. "I'm a little disappointed that we didn't make the field but my thanks still goes out to Richie Stevens, his crew and Valspar for letting me drive this car. We might just do this again real soon."