ST. LOUIS (June 23) â€“ Intense humidity at Gateway International Raceway translated to much slower elapsed times on the racetrack Friday as qualifying for the fourth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals concluded with two rounds of drag racing action.
ST. LOUIS (June 23) – Intense humidity at Gateway International Raceway translated to much slower elapsed times on the racetrack Friday as qualifying for the fourth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals concluded with two rounds of drag racing action. Fortunately, Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens had already earned a top-half berth in the race day field and he’ll enter his 32nd consecutive race with a stellar chance to claim his first victory of the 2000 season.
Stevens, a 21-year-old from New Orleans, posted a competitive 6.975-second pass at 195.56 mph Thursday evening, which earned him the No. 6 spot in the elimination field. He’ll now open Saturday’s action against Greg Anderson, who qualified 11th after a 6.994-second pass at 197.13 mph.
“High humidity is really tough on a Pro Stock motor,” Stevens said. “It really just zaps your power and the car bogs down. You could see that across the board today. No one was able to improve much at all.
“We’re expecting the same sort of weather we had today during tomorrow’s racing so we just tried to use today as a test to try and set-up the Valspar Pontiac to go some laps. We’re anxious to win a race but we know you have to just focus on the next lap and let winning take care of itself.”
Due to Stevens’ superior qualifying time, he will have the benefit of lane choice over Anderson, an advantage he thinks could be a big factor in winning throughout the day.
“We made nice laps in both lanes, which is really good,” Stevens said. “But the left lane is definitely better than the right one. When you have a track like this it makes every lap so important. Not only do you need to worry about beating the other guy but you have to get every bit of e.t. out of the car so that you can maintain lane choice going into the next round. We’ll have to be ready to go every round.”
By qualifying for this event, Stevens improves his current streak of successful qualifying efforts to 32 races. It is the second longest streak in the Pro Stock ranks.
Television coverage of the Craftsman Nationals begins with qualifying highlights on ESPN2 from 8-10 p.m. (ET) Saturday, with a repeat broadcast from 3-5 a.m. early Sunday morning. The elimination rounds will be broadcast from 10 p.m. to midnight (ET) Sunday and will re-air from 1-3 a.m. (ET) Thursday, June 29.