Richie Stevens Improves But Still Wants More

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 4) -- Valspar Refinish driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens took advantage of Friday's cooler conditions to improve on his previously posted time as qualifying for the AutoZone Winternationals continued at Pomona Raceway. Stevens...

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 4) -- Valspar Refinish driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens took advantage of Friday's cooler conditions to improve on his previously posted time as qualifying for the AutoZone Winternationals continued at Pomona Raceway.

Stevens opened with a steady 7.022-second pass at 196.56 mph Thursday during a pass that allowed for him and crew chief Tommy Utt to get a feel for the track. They then took that data and tuned the Valspar Pontiac Firebird to today's much-improved pass of 6.954 seconds at 197.42 mph.

"That was a pretty decent pass that maybe could have been a few hundredths of a second better," Stevens said. "But we still have a lot of room to improve. We're barely hanging in there right now and that's not a very comfortable feeling."

Team Valspar currently holds the 15th spot in the 16-car field of qualified drivers with two rounds of qualifying remaining on Saturday.

"It's taking us a little longer than expected to get the Valspar Refinish car set-up for Warren Johnson horsepower," Stevens said. "W.J.'s stuff really shows through on the top end of the track, which is the exact opposite of the motors we were using last year that were stronger at the launching pad.

"Tommy's working very hard and I have complete faith that he'll get this car ready to go by tomorrow. I'd definitely like to move up to the top half of the field so that we can have lane choice come Sunday. It could be the difference between winning or losing."

The Winternationals will be televised on ESPN2 with qualifying highlights broadcast from 9:30-11:30 p.m. (EST) Saturday, Feb. 5 and final eliminations airing from 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (EST) Sunday, Feb. 6.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson