Reigning NHRA Pro Stock Champion, Mike Edwards, continued his phenomenal season by making it four wins in a row, when he put his Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac GXP in the winner's circle during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at historic Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tennessee.
Pro Stock Champion Mike Edwards wins NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol
Mike Edwards' Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac GXP
At the end of qualifying on Friday, Edwards and his team were in their familiar number one spot, but that changed come Saturday.
"We ran OK Friday night and when we came back on Saturday, we had changed a few things up and it didn't really do what we thought it would," Edwards explained. "Allen (Johnson) slipped around us."
"I know it didn't pay off for us on Saturday, when it came to qualifying but I feel that down the road what we learned that day will pay off for us down the road," he continued.
The track temperatures were soaring during the Bristol event, even reaching into the 140 degree range.
"The track was probably the hottest we have seen in the last three or four races, so we had to make some serious adjustments for it on Sunday" he added.
Having been the first driver to sew up a spot in the NHRA Pro Stock 2010 Countdown to One, even Edwards knows that some races, where the odds seem stacked against you, you are able to pull off the win because you have a championship caliber team.
Edwards and his Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac GXP were not exactly at the top of their game during eliminations on Sunday as the car seemed to not want to stay perfectly planted, moving around on him and making several of his earlier rounds squeakers at the stripe.
After he made his way through the field, he found himself matched up against Rickie Jones who went for a light in the final and gave the instant win to Edwards when he turned the red-light on.
Now that Edwards has made it into the Countdown, it will allow his team to go into test mode a little more often during qualifying, when they know the time is right.
"When we can do well during qualifying on Friday and we fell like we are in a good spot, as far as bring in the top three or four, we'll look at doing a little something during those last two sessions," he said. "It just really depends on the conditions, if they are going to get better or worse. That would allow us to do something a little different."
What Edwards truly looks forward to being different is the outcome of the upcoming 2010 K&N Horsepower Challenge, where he has been runner-up twice but never champion.
Already Edwards is going into the event this weekend as the number one seed, a spot he has never held in all his years of making the prestigious race.
"I don't think it matters a whole lot of where you start in a shootout like this," explained Edwards. "All these cars and teams are very-very good. There are no weak links at all in the eight cars running. If a team got in this thing, they are more than capable of winning it."
The K&N Horsepower Challenge will take place during the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio and Edwards will face off in round one against number eight and the fan selected for the shootout, "The Professor" Warren Johnson and his K&N Pontiac GXP.
"I was really happy to hear who was selected and that the fans voted Warren in and rightfully so," Edwards said. "I mean he's Mr. Pro Stock."
The K&N Horsepower Challenge being conducted at the same time as the National event in Norwalk, a race-within-a-race weekend, would seem to put added pressure on all teams and drivers involved.
"It does add a little more pressure. Normally you try to race the track on Friday and get qualified good then Saturday you try to improve on what you need to do to get ready for Sunday," said Edwards of the big weekend. "Now it kind of changes what you do and how you go about it, because you're not even thinking about Sunday yet when you are just trying to think about who you are going to race on Saturday morning. It certainly changes things up for how we go into the weekend."
"We want to come out and run really-really good right off the bat and get qualified on Friday for the National on Sunday," he continued. "And Saturday is race day for the K&N Challenge, even though a couple of those first rounds count as qualifying, too."
All the NHRA professional teams have been on the road for quite a few back-to-back weekends, possibly making teams a little weary and maybe even a little light on extra parts.
"We pretty much carry everything with us from race to race but the only thing bad about this weekend is our stuff," he paused. "You know we've been on the road and this will be our fourth race in a row. These things, you know we run them right on the edge and you hope your stuff is still in good shape."
The K&N Horsepower Challenge offers the largest single race day payout in all of NHRA Pro Stock, awarding a cool $50,000 to the overall winner and then, of course, there is also the chance of doubling up on Sunday.
When asked how big that would be for Edwards and his team, the analogy of "feathers in your cap" came up.
"It would be a bunch of feathers," he chuckled. "It would be like, I don't know, how many are in one of those chief's feather hats, but it would be all of those that's for sure."
"I've never won the K&N shootout," Edwards said a little more seriously. "I've been runner-up in the Pro Stock shootouts a couple of times, but it would be pretty special just to win it with it being a K&N deal and all the support that K&N gives me."
"I just really hope the fans come out and support our program because we are going to have some fantastic racing on Saturday during the K&N Challenge, with some great race cars and some of the greatest drivers out there."
First round of the 2010 K&N Horsepower Challenge it slated to begin driver interdictions at 11:30a and action takes to the track at noon this Saturday, June 26 at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.