Despite losing to a holeshot by Elijah Morton in round one of Extreme Pro Stock (XPS) eliminations for the ADRL World Finals VIII, Richie Stevens Jr. still left the Texas Motorplex a winner. In a unique race-within-a-race, Stevens successfully defended his XPS Battle for the Belts title that marked his first ADRL victory one year earlier.
Within qualifying for the World Finals, the XPS community kept an ADRL tradition alive at the World Finals VIII by staging their own Battle for the Belts, a showdown between the top-eight points earners that was dropped from the official ADRL program this year.
Organized by Stevens’ crew chief, Tom Pierson, with the blessing of ADRL officials, the XPS class even took care of their own purse for the special race within a race, with each qualifier posting up $1250—in cash—with $7500 destined for the winner and the $2500 going to the runner-up. There also were $500 gift certificates from approximately 30 class and series sponsors distributed evenly through a pre-race random drawing, ensuring each participant received at least a $1500 value in return.
Once racing began within the second round of qualifying on Friday afternoon, second-place-in-points Stevens opened with a win over David Schorr, then got past Brian Gahm to reach the final, held at the end of Saturday’s lone session. On the opposite side of the ladder, fifth-place Pete Berner beat Todd Hoerner and John DeFlorian in the preliminaries.
In the Belts final, Stevens left first with a .061 light to Berner’s .105 and it made the difference an eighth of a mile later as Stevens beat a quicker and faster 4.103 at 175.41 with a run of 4.119 seconds at 174.32 mph.
“It’s always nice as a driver to get the win with a holeshot,” Stevens said. “But I’m mostly proud of my team, led by Mark Eckman and our crew chief, Tom Pierson. Everybody has done a great job this year, Greg, Mikey, Wayne, Jerry Haas, my dad, Erica (Enders); it’s just been a great year overall.”
Stevens, who is known as a good “leaver” on the starting line, was at a loss for words, however, when describing his .138 light in World Finals eliminations.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he admitted. “It was like I just watched the tree come down and then went. I hate it for my guys because I would’ve loved to double up for them. I don’t want to sound greedy, but it would’ve been nice.”
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