BRAINERD, Minn. (August 12) â€“ Twenty-one-year-old Pro Stock upstart Richie â€œThe Kidâ€ Stevens of the award-winning Valspar Refinish Race Team may be the youngest driver in his professional class, but considering the last month of his drag ...
BRAINERD, Minn. (August 12) – Twenty-one-year-old Pro Stock upstart Richie “The Kid” Stevens of the award-winning Valspar Refinish Race Team may be the youngest driver in his professional class, but considering the last month of his drag racing career, he certainly seems wise for his age.
Stevens had a week off to reflect on his unusual “Western Swing” of races through Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma, Calif. The hotshot from New Orleans recorded the third victory of his two-and-a-half year NHRA tenure during the three-race swing. Yet he also uncharacteristically failed to qualify for the other two events, a mishap that hadn’t befallen the Valspar Refinish-sponsored team in over a year and a half.
“We learned a lot on the Western Swing,” said Stevens. “We learned that you don’t have to blaze a trail of fire down the track every lap to win a race. We weren’t the fastest or the quickest in Seattle but we were the most consistent. That’s what won us the race.
“At the same time we were humbled a bit in Denver and Sonoma when we DNQed. I have never questioned our ability to be prepared for an event but we seemed to be behind at both of those races. The tracks were different then what we expected and by the time we got them figured out we had missed the best chance to qualify. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we’re still very new to the NHRA. Our two years of knowledge doesn’t always stack up against guys that have been out here for years.”
Now, as the NHRA tour heads to Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) for the 19th annual Colonel’s Truck Accessories Nationals, Stevens is anxious to apply the knowledge he gained over the last month towards another win.
“BIR’s been good to us in the past,” Stevens said. “It’s a very quick track that favors cars with a lot of horsepower. We took our engine back to Rick Hickman at the shop and he went through it from top to bottom. He should have it ready to rock.
“This race also is very important to me from a sponsorship standpoint. Valspar is based in Minneapolis so all our friends and supporters from the main office should be on hand to watch us race. The folks at Mills GM and Pontiac in Brainerd are also backing us this race so we have to make everyone look good and give them something to brag about. Another win would be fantastic. We’ve learned how to do it, now we just need to get the job done.”
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.