Richie Stevens didn’t expect to get a call from Alan Prusiensky this week asking him to drive his Pro Stock car at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, but it didn’t take him long to say yes.
Prusiensky, who suffered a broken back in a high-speed crash last weekend during qualifying at the NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals in Charlotte, decided to turn over his second Dodge Dart, the Top Coat entry driven earlier this season by Jeremy Martorella, to Stevens for this race and possibly others.
“He called me Sunday night and told me that he couldn’t drive and asked me if I could,” Stevens said. “I had to check with my work to make sure I could take the end of the week off, but I couldn’t wait to get back.”
Stevens hadn’t driven a Pro Stocker since the Houston event in April 2017 when he wheeled Deric Kramer’s Dodge, and even though he competed in Pro Mod in six races last year, he’s happy to be back in the class where he has collected six wins, dating back to his breakthrough win at the 1998 World Finals.
“It’s been fun to see everyone again and get the rust off,” he said. “I’m really happy to be back in Pro Stock,” he said. “The Pro Mod is faster but it’s a totally different driving style – feel, sound, everything. The only thing that was the same was four wheels and a steering wheel. The Pro Mod car had an automatic shifter so there’s not much for the driver to do – no clutch pedal and no shifter. I didn’t know what to do with my left foot and my right hand.”
With Prusiensky on hand tuning, Stevens felt comfortable in a car that he believes he’d driven before when it was part of the Elite operation a few years ago and when Kramer owned it.
“The first run Friday I was a little antsy but once the car is started and you hear it and feel it, that goes away,” he said. “It was like I just did it yesterday.”
Stevens fought some car-control issues Friday and then they lost one of Prusiensky’s Hemis on their Q3 pass, but they stayed in the field and will face low qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. in round one.