St. Louis Richie Stevens Qualifying Notes

Stevens survives qualifying, braces for Race Day ST. LOUIS (June 25) -- Twenty-year-old Pro Stock driving sensation Richie "The Kid" Stevens lasted through four rounds of intense qualifying and managed to keep his Valspar Refinish machine in the...

Stevens survives qualifying, braces for Race Day

ST. LOUIS (June 25) -- Twenty-year-old Pro Stock driving sensation Richie "The Kid" Stevens lasted through four rounds of intense qualifying and managed to keep his Valspar Refinish machine in the 16-car field of cars that will battle for the title of the Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.

Stevens used a Thursday night pass of 7.009 seconds at 196.10 mph to grab the 12th spot in the competitive field and will now open Saturday's elimination rounds against veteran driver Mark Pawuk, who qualified fifth with a pass of 6.990 seconds at 197.31 mph.

"I'm glad to be in the field," Stevens said. "But Mark will be a tough guy to face in the first round. He's been very consistent this weekend and I'll need to be quick to beat him. I'd like to say he's just another guy, but he's definitely better than average."

Stevens tried to move into the top half of the field in Friday's final qualifying session but slipped out of the groove temporarily and lost some valuable time to tire spin.

"We had the Valspar Firebird set up pretty aggressive because we wanted to move as far up the ladder as possible," he said. "The car ended up going a little left and once it was out of the groove the tires never really hooked up completely. That's what hurt us."

Friday's first session saw Stevens run a competitive time in relation to the rest of the field, but the heat of the day kept him from being too quick. Officially, he clocked a 7.068-second lap at 195.34 mph.

"It was a totally different track earlier this afternoon," Stevens said. "Yesterday, it rained early in the day and it never got quite as hot as today. Although we ended up running a lot better in today's daytime session when you compare it to yesterday's day session, we still knew that we couldn't possibly lower the elapsed time mark we ran Thursday night. So we just treated the run like a test session.

"We wanted two things out of that lap. First, we hoped to get an idea of how to set-up the car for tomorrow's first round of eliminations, because they should start at about the same time. Plus, we wanted to know how we could go a little quicker in the evening session today because we wanted to move into the top half of the field. At the very least, we got a lot of data out of today's runs. We'll be ready to go tomorrow."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Pawuk