Stevens ends up 10th
Reading, Monday: Richie Stevens Jr. had a goal this weekend at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals: to earn a spot in the top eight for the Countdown to the Championship. Entering this event 10th in the standings, he had his eye on Larry Morgan in eighth and Vieri Gaines in ninth.
First round of eliminations, which were postponed until Monday because of rain, saw Larry Morgan eliminated by Jim Yates, while Stevens defeated Warren Johnson on a holeshot (6.678/206.73 to 6.661/207.11, .022 R/T for Stevens, .095 for Johnson) to advance to the second round. V. Gaines also moved on after dismissing Mike Edwards.
Second-round match-up: Stevens versus Gaines. Gaines ran a near-perfect pass to take the victory with a 6.629/207.08, while Stevens survived a problematic run to trail with a 6.778/205.69 loss.
With that result, Stevens' chances of earning a slot in the top eight were dashed, as he had to settle for 10th place in the standings.
"We did good," he said. "We got by Warren in the first round, beat him on a holeshot, and the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge made a decent run. It shook pretty bad and got a little loose in the first round. We had V. the next round and we had to go for it all. He ran really good in the opening round and we didn't have lane choice and kind of had to go all or nothing that run and it shook the tires again. Actually, I lifted and got back on it just hoping that maybe he might break something because I could see him out ahead of me. But that's really the only reason I got back in it just hoping he might break something.
"It wasn't really a good run. It shook right at the top of low gear; actually, right when I put it in second gear it shook and I lifted and got back in. It shook again and it was kind of like a pedalfest in a Funny Car.
"We missed out on a spot (in the Countdown). It's over now, the pressure is off, so we'll just go to the next couple of races and hopefully we'll be a spoiler, win a couple, and help A.J. out in the points."
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