Oklahoma based NHRA Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards, had set the bar quite high for the entire field of competitors over the last season by obtaining numerous poles and event championships.
NHRA Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards
Mike Edwards and his Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac GXP
After quite a streak of number one qualifiers, Edwards and his Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac GXP had a little snag in their program at the NHRA event in Norwalk, Ohio when he and his team could only muster a number twelve spot.
With a week off for the first time in over a month, Edwards prepared for the beginning of the "Western Swing" and to get his team back to their familiar territory of qualifying number one.
The first event of the "Swing" would find Edwards making a 2,100 mile trip from his home in Coweta to Seattle for the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceway, in which unlike many other professional drivers, one may note that he drives the rig himself.
When the teams first took to the track for the Friday sessions, Edwards seemed to be finding his footing once again. As the Friday sessions wrapped up, he was just lagging the number one qualifier by less than two-hundredths of a second, holding down the number three spot with two more sessions on the horizon.
It was during Saturday's fist session that Edwards emerged as the pole sitter and it just took the team going back to their data of last season's Seattle event.
"Yesterday we were trying a lot of things. We stepped out of the box a little bit and tried a few things and didn't really like what we saw. So we basically went back this morning to kind of how we ran the thing here last year," he explained.
Barely edging out Johnny Gray, the only other team to make a pass into the 6.5-second range, Edwards' 6.598 effort catapulted him to number one, which earned his team the maximum number of points available during each event for the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge and the $3,000 K&N qualifying bonus money.
"We made a nice run. We barely inched out Johnny Gray. He made an awesome run, too," Edwards added.
With Edwards' current stronghold on the NHRA Championship points, he had made reference in weeks prior that when the opportunity presented itself, his team would do some testing during qualifying at events.
"The conditions were favorable to what we were wanting to do for awhile. We thought the weather was going to be better this morning, so we thought yesterday's qualifying wouldn't hold up, which it didn't. Most everybody ran a little bit quicker today. But we thought it was a good time to do it. I'm not much on doing that, but it was just the right opportunity, and I really thought it was going to work out," Edwards said following Saturday's sessions.
The Seattle event is only the second of a long list ahead for drivers pursuing one of eight available spots in the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge. The number one success for Edwards at Seattle moved him up to the number five spot and only forty points behind Allen Johnson, who currently sits at number one.
There could be lots of place swapping in the Challenge before the dust settles from the "Western Swing" with back-to-back NHRA National Event stops at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California and Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado.
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