Sonoma Richie Stevens Qualifying Report

Under his own power, Kid makes field SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 7) – The official field of drivers that will compete for the title of the 12th Annual Autolite Nationals Sunday will once again include Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens.

Under his own power, Kid makes field

SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 7) – The official field of drivers that will compete for the title of the 12th Annual Autolite Nationals Sunday will once again include Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens. The 20-year-old phenom from New Orleans – who is the youngest pro driver competing on the National Hot Rod Association circuit - has not missed the elimination session of an NHRA event since he and his father assumed ownership of his Valspar Refinish-sponsored team in early March.

But what truly makes the sophomore driver’s 13th straight elimination-round appearance special is that for the first time ever he earned a spot in the field using his own Jon Kaase-built powerplant. Prior to today, Stevens has been leasing a Finish Line Racing Engine from fellow Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas.

“It’s a great feeling to pull a brand-new motor out of the box and have it perform that well,” co-owner Richie Stevens Sr. said. “It’s exactly what we wanted to see. We’re hoping that this new Kaase engine will become a real contender on this circuit.”

Stevens’ first lap with his new engine was his best of the weekend, a 6.956-second pass at 197.42 mph, which he posted in the Saturday’s morning session. “We ran our quickest time of the weekend and still slid from six spots on the ladder,” the younger Stevens said. “That tells you how tough it is out there. The track is nasty and as hot as it is, that assessment won’t change much tomorrow when the real racing starts.”

Sunday’s opening round of sudden-death action will see Stevens squaring off against Mike Trumble Jr. who qualified in the No. 5 spot with a pass of 6.939 seconds at 199.37 mph. By virtue of his quicker elapsed time, Trumble will have the advantage of lane choice over Stevens. The two men have faced each other one time this season with Stevens taking the win.

“There are a bunch of things to be positive about,” Stevens said. “We own our motor now, which is something we have never been able to say before. That’s an awesome feeling. Also, even though we don’t have lane choice, we posted quick laps on both sides of this track during qualifying. Earlier today we had the 6.95 on the right side and last night we ran a 6.96 on the left side. So I think we have a good chance of winning if I just take care of my driving and let this Valspar Refinish car show its stuff. I’m ready.”

A highlight show of all four qualifying sessions will be shown at 1:30 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2 and a summary of elimination racing will air at 7:30 p.m. (EST).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Mike Trumble