Richie Stevens entered the NHRA U.S. Nationals three weeks ago, with a grand plan for a one-race deal with CarSafe.
Then, Mother Nature and then the NHRA washed away his plans as Lucas Oil Raceway was flooded forcing the suspension of the U.S. Nationals for one week. Unfortunately for Stevens it was the same week he was scheduled to be in Memphis for the ADRL's Memphis Drags.
After rain washed away Sunday's final qualifying rounds at Lucas Oil Raceway, Stevens was eighth in the Pro Stock lineup with a top notch Pro Stock operation he had leased from point leader Allen Johnson.
Monday's rain and flooding in Indianapolis washed away his good fortune and his enthusiasm.
Even though NHRA officials originally set the field for Monday’s elimination, when rain invaded the facility and forced postponement until a week later, reversed their decision and reopened qualifying for two sessions the following weekend.
The NHRA's decision put Stevens into a no-win situation.
The rescheduled Indianapolis race date fell on top of the ADRL’s Memphis Drags. Stevens, in the midst of an ADRL championship battle, couldn't return to Indy.
“We chose Indy to get CarSafe some exposure,” explained a disappointed Stevens. “When it comes to Indy, there’s no better place than Indy. It’s expensive to run out here and the sponsorships aren’t laying around like they used to be. I figured we could shine but then the qualifying was reopened.”
Stevens, busy hunting a title in Memphis, couldn't return for the rescheduled qualifying at Indy. NHRA officials struck his efforts from the qualifying list.
The NHRA’s decision left a bad taste in his backer’s mouths.
“There was a chance we could have had something else for more than this race,” revealed Stevens. “We were working on a two-race deal. Charlotte was another possibility. This kind of left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. There was a lot of money spent on a weekend which started out awesome, but ended up blown in the wind.
“It took a lot of work just to get the one race put together.”
Despite what he feels was an unfair situation, there may be a silver lining in his efforts. His backers have faith in him and are considering a 12-race deal for 2013. Included in his list of backers is Mark Eckman of CarSafe, Randy Tinsley of Valspar (a supporter since 1998) and Pearson Construction; as well as few anonymous entities.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed and maybe it will come together,” said Stevens.
Stevens admits while on paper they Indy event may look like a disaster, in the trenches there was much to be proud of for his team which included chassis builder Rick Jones and his son Rickie.
“We took a car that hadn’t been run in almost ten months, and went a 6.66 and 6.67, back to back,” explained Stevens. “We were doing fine until the rains came and qualifying was reopened. It’s unfortunate the NHRA chose this path. It is what it is.”
Stevens attempted valiantly to figure a way to run both events and while getting to Indianapolis would have been no issue, returning in time to finish competing at the ADRL Memphis Drags presented a few uncertainties he wasn’t willing to chance.
“We still have a chance to challenge for the ADRL title,” said Stevens, who trails point leader Cary Goforth in the ADRL Extreme Pro Stock standings by four rounds with eight remaining in the season.. “We still have a chance; but it’s going to take hard work and some lucky breaks. Cary will have to falter and we’ll have to take advantage of it.”
And Stevens, most importantly, will need a favorable nod from Mother Nature.
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