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В Josh Stevenson is racing for a championship for the first time in his four-year dirt track career.

So far the 23-year-old Emporia driver is bearing up well, leading the Factory Stock standings in the Super Showdown Stock Car Series.

"This is the first year I've actually ran for points,'' said Stevenson, who was second in Saturday's Factory Stock feature. "In past years I've not made it every week.''

While Stevenson currently has the upper hand in what has been a fierce season-long points battle, there are still a handful of drivers who have a chance to win the championship.

""To tell you the truth it's pretty nerve-wracking,'' Stevenson said. "It will eat you up all week."

'"The first night out we were leading the race by quite a little bit and blew a tire out. It started out frustrating, but it's been all right.''

Two weeks ago Stevenson's car was damaged during qualifying but he bounced back to salvage a fourth-place finish after starting 16th.

"It just shows you that your car's that fast,'' he said.

With the season getting down to crunch time, Stevenson is taking every precaution he can to help him protect his position in the points race.

"It makes you check the car over twice at home during the week,'' he said.

Unlike many of his competitors, Stevenson got a late start on his racing career, but is quickly making up for lost tiume.

"I didn't grow up racing. I got into helping a guy with his car when I was about 16,'' he said. "I love it. It's a lot of work at home, but when you get to the track you forget about all the work.''