Testing session invigorates Team Valspar HOUSTON (Oct. 27) -- Disappointed after his third holeshot lose in as many national events, Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens has spent the down-time between last weekend's race...
Testing session invigorates Team Valspar
HOUSTON (Oct. 27) -- Disappointed after his third holeshot lose in as many national events, Valspar Refinish Pro Stock driver Richie "The Kid" Stevens has spent the down-time between last weekend's race in Dallas and this weekend's race in Houston running several test laps at the Texas Motorplex.
Now, confident that he has exorcised the reaction-time demons that have prevented him from claiming his third national event crown, the second-year pro storms into his "home" track of Houston Raceway Park as one of the favorites to win the Third annual Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions.
The Valspar Pontiac Firebird certainly has been running strong enough to win. Three races ago in Topeka, Kan. Stevens grabbed the first pole of his sophomore career ending a streak of 21 races in which points leaders Warren or Kurt Johnson had the top spot. The following race in Memphis, Tenn. the 21-year-old reached his fifth final round but had to settle for runner-up honors. Last weekend a heroic last-session charge into the qualifying field produced nothing on Race Day for the New Orleans native.
"I said right after the Dallas race ended that if I could get back to my normal average reaction time that I'd be fine," Stevens said. "Well, we decided to stay over a few days in Dallas so that I could work on it and the results were just what we hoped they'd be. We even made some laps in (engine provider) Mike Thomas' Pennzoil car to make sure that it wasn't something in the car itself. My first lap out I nailed a .440 light and right away I started feeling better about my driving. It's really more of a mental thing than anything else.
"I'm glad it's a short week because I'm anxious to get back in the car during competition. That's really the only way to get over a bad streak. It's better to get back after it as soon as you can.
"I've got too many friends and family members coming to this race to not do well. This is my favorite track, where I won my first-ever drag race in the junior ranks, and I'd like to start adding a bunch of pro-level successes to my list of Houston memories.
"This is the fastest and quickest track on the circuit and that's good for us because this Valspar Pontiac has been flying for most of the year. We're in a tight points race and I'd like to hold on to my current spot in the standings (fifth place) or even move up a spot or two before we're done. Winning in Houston would go a long way towards that goal."
ESPN2 will air qualifying highlights from 9:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30 and will repeat them Sunday, Oct. 31 from 12:30-1:30 a.m. First-round coverage begins Sunday at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and final round action will be shown from 7-8 p.m. All times shown are CDT.