Stevens back on track in Brainerd

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 18) – Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens of the powerful Valspar Refinish race team has returned to the championship form that propelled him to his third national event win just three weeks ago in Seattle.

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 18) – Pro Stock driver Richie “The Kid” Stevens of the powerful Valspar Refinish race team has returned to the championship form that propelled him to his third national event win just three weeks ago in Seattle. Stevens used his second qualifying pass at the 19th annual Colonel’s Truck Accessories Nationals to move into the No. 9 spot in a very quick provisional field. What’s more, the 21-year-old sees plenty of room for improvement during Saturday’s final two qualifying sessions.

After opening the day with a marginal pass of 7.094 seconds at 195.05 mph, which left him outside looking in from the No. 17 position, Stevens and crew turned up the wick and made a dramatic move up in the cooler evening session. That’s when the sleek Valspar Pontiac cruised through the quarter-mile timers in a steady 6.998 seconds at 196.02 mph.

“That lap surprised me to be honest with you,” Stevens said. “My crew chief Tommy Utt came on the radio and said, ‘Good job buddy, you ran a 6.99 and I couldn’t believe it.

“There is a little problem holding us back right now and we’re not quite sure what it is yet. In the first session as soon as I let out the clutch at the starting line the car just totally bogged down. It was like something knocked the breath out of it. By the time it picked up and started running I was way behind. My incremental times on the front half of the track were some of the slowest of the day that time.

“In Round 2, when we ran the 6.99, the car bogged again at the line. Not quite as bad as the first time but when I felt it bog I thought we were going to be in trouble. That’s why I was so surprised when Tommy told me I had run a 6.99. This Valspar Pontiac really flew down the back half of the track.

“Tommy and (engine builder) Rick Hickman, who is here at this race, made some changes to the motor between rounds and they plan on making some more now. I have confidence that they will figure this thing out and we’ll be able to run much quicker tomorrow. The morning session could be as quick as this nighttime one was. If the weather stays cool and the track holds, we can get in the top half of the field for sure.”

Saturday’s qualifying rounds at the Colonel’s Brainerd International Raceway are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday’s elimination action is slated to begin at 10 a.m.

Same-day television coverage of the 19th annual Colonel’s Truck Accessories National’s elimination rounds will air from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT), Sunday, Aug. 20, on TNN.

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Series NHRA