READING, Penn. (Sept. 16) -- At the National Hot Rod Association's last stop in Indianapolis, the Valspar Corporation rewarded Richie "The Kid" Stevens for all of his past successes in his Valspar Refinish Pro Stock machine and inked him to a...
READING, Penn. (Sept. 16) -- At the National Hot Rod Association's last stop in Indianapolis, the Valspar Corporation rewarded Richie "The Kid" Stevens for all of his past successes in his Valspar Refinish Pro Stock machine and inked him to a two-year contract extension through the 2001 season. Now, as the circuit arrives at the 15th annual True Value Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, Stevens vows to show his backers that they made the right decision.
"It's definitely put a spark to this team," Stevens said. "We're all very happy that Valspar believes in us and it's great to get a long deal like this so that we can relax and not worry about chasing sponsors. I've seen that a lot of guys spend a lot of their time just chasing sponsors. It can be a distraction and I'm glad we don't have to worry about it at this point.
"Now I really want to win more than ever. When someone picks you to be on their team you want to show them right away that you deserve to be there."
Stevens, a 20-year-old sophomore driver from New Orleans, has already surpassed his elimination round win totals and matched his national event win total of 1998. Through Indy he has amassed 17 individual round wins and one national event win compared to his 22-race total of 16 elimination round wins and one national event victory of a year ago. Additionally this season, he participated in the Holley Dominator Duel, joined the exclusive Speed-Pro 200 mph Pro Stock Club, set the national elapsed time record and raced through to three final rounds in a row -- a feat matched only by four-time champ Warren Johnson.
"I know we've done pretty good," said Stevens, who is currently in fifth place in the Winston championship points standings. "But, to me that stuff has already happened. I want to reach new heights. I want to win another race. I want to get this Valspar car as close to first place as possible this year and put it on top next year.
"This points race is going to be tight all the way to Pomona (the NHRA's last stop in November.) I know it would mean a lot to the folks at Valspar if we could keep their car up at the top where we're getting some attention. But they'd be even happier if we could find the Winner's Circle a few more times. Then the points would take care of themselves."
Stevens and the rest of the Pro Stock field should enjoy their weekend in Pennsylvania's Dutch Country. The track is close to sea level and - weather pending - can be very quick.
"The last time we were at a track like this was Richmond and we went 200 mph, set the world record for elapsed time and went to the finals," Stevens said. "If we do all that again and then add in a win, I'd be real happy."