Since Richie Stevens Jr. returned to NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock competition in the Team Mopar/Valspar HEMI-powered Dodge Stratus this year as a member of the largest pro team in NHRA history, Don Schumacher Racing, he's been aching for a win to add to the four he earned his first time around from 1998-2002.

The New Orleans native has been close: He made it to the final round in Bristol, Tenn., with lane choice the whole way, but fouled out to Warren Johnson. He's qualified for every race and claimed the pole at the Phoenix race and now stands eighth in Pro Stock points.

This weekend's CARQUEST NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, team owner Don Schumacher's home track (whose Schumacher Electric is located in Mt. Prospect, Ill.), would be the ideal venue for Stevens' first win of the year.

He and tuner Bob Glidden, the 10-time Pro Stock champion, continue to work hard towards achieving their goals with ongoing development and testing at every opportunity, including a Memorial Day test following the last event at Heartland Park Topeka.

"We tested some tires for Goodyear in Topeka after the race," said the 26-year-old Stevens. "It seemed to go pretty well. We made some good runs. We went 6.73 (-second elapsed time) three times, which was a hundredth and a half (of a second) off of what Greg (Anderson, Topeka winner) had run over the weekend. That made it a real positive test.

"We should do pretty well over the weekend at Don Schumacher's home race. Everybody wants to make a good showing here. We'll try our best and hopefully come out on top.

"Route 66 is definitely a great facility. The track surface is really smooth, and it's always a track that everybody looks forward to and it's one that I definitely look forward to racing at. Under the right conditions, it's also a track where Pro Stock records can be broken, as they have been in the Fuel classes."

On Friday, June 10 professional qualifying sessions are at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. On Saturday, June 11 Pro qualifying sessions continue at 11:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. KING DEMON CROWN ELIMINATION ROUNDS are at 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. On Sunday, June 12, Pre-race ceremonies are at 10 a.m., final eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

On Saturday, June 11, ESPN2 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 6 p.m. (ET). On Sunday, June 12, ESPN2 will televise three hours of eliminations at 3 p.m. (ET). Also on Sunday June 12, ESPN2 will telecast NHRA 2Day, a 30-minute weekly news magazine show, at 11:30 a.m. (ET).

* Eighth in 2005 Pro Stock points after nine races, reached final round once, was No. 1 qualifier once
* Joined Don Schumacher Racing after sending in an application for 2005 season
* Cut short driving career in 2002 to run family business while dad Richie Sr. underwent open-heart surgery
* With dad Richie Stevens Sr. owns Stevens Collision Center in New Orleans
* Born and raised in New Orleans, is 26 years old
* His career-best ET and speed so far: 6.696 ET at 207.08 mph in Gainesville, Fla., 2005
* Has longtime relationship with associate sponsor Valspar
* Capped off rookie season in 1998 with a victory in his first final-round appearance (Pomona 2)
* Is youngest Pro Stock driver to win a national event, at 20-one month, in 1998
* Has four career wins in eight final rounds, two No. 1 qualifiers to his credit
* In 1999 he became the eighth member of the Speed Pro 200-mph Pro Stock Club with a 200.08 mph run in Richmond, Va.
* Competed in Roy Hill's Pro Mod car in 2004, with a semifinal finish at the U.S. Nationals his best result

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