Reigning NHRA Pro Stock Champion Mike Edwards is all too aware of the added pressure when competing at the most prestigious event in all of drag racing, The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, but he and his team didn't let any of that get in the way of their qualifying goals.
NHRA Pro Stock Champion Mike Edwards
Mike Edwards' Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac
After a short break in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle schedule, Edwards and his Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac were well prepared and ready to take on one of the largest fields of Pro Stock entries you will find throughout the season, thirty-one in all.
With an extended schedule and for the most part, fantastic weather during qualifying, teams were afforded five shots at the historic O'Reilly Raceway Park, just outside of Indianapolis. Edwards shot right out of the gate during session number one on Friday to sit on the top spot when he posted a 6.596.
During session number two on Saturday, he didn't fair quite as well and wasn't able to repeat or even better his earlier efforts when they missed the set up causing the car to spin hard in the first fifty feet and make a fairly quick move to the right.
By the third session Saturday evening, Edwards began to work his way back up, bettering his Friday numbers and just slipping into the number two position just behind Jeg Coughlin's time by .005, making his 6.585 pass in some fantastic air with the combined low humidity and comfortable temperatures.
Edwards and his team are not only aiming to hold on to their number one position in the NHRA Pro Stock Countdown, but are feverishly working to gain lost ground in the K&N Horsepower Challenge and get back to the number one spot and they way to do that, is to continue to out qualify the rest of the pack.
"The K&N Horsepower Challenge is just an awesome opportunity for NHRA Pro Stock," Edwards noted. "K&N has given us the platform to race and be seen. Steve Williams and all the employees at K&N have been a tremendous help to our class and every team works extra hard to make the top eight so we can run for the substantial amount of bonus money that K&N has put up for us to shoot for at Norwalk every year."
Usually by Sunday, the fields are set and teams are going into race mode, but during the U.S. Nationals teams are provided with additional qualifying passes with sights set on Monday's eliminations.
Sunday, Edwards came out with his Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac with the confidence he needed to lay down a track record setting 6.579 at 209.14 miles per hour speed shooting him back to the top.
The final Pro Stock session would find most teams working on their race day set up, as weather conditions were ever changing and more heat coming into the game after several cooler days. Edwards was only able to muster a 6.623, the fifth quickest of the session but with a little luck on his side was able to hang on to the pole with his previous effort, earning an impressive twelfth number one qualifying position of the season and the thirty-fourth of his career.
The presence of dominating horsepower continued to follow Edwards during eliminations on Monday where he easily outran first round opponent, Justin Humphries. But it was in the later rounds where Edwards began to call on his luck to pull out the round wins.
After almost duplicating both ends of his first round time slip, Edwards streaked by Greg Anderson in round two when Anderson's car had major problems just past the sixty foot cone.
That would set him up for a semi-final match with V. Gaines and with luck on his side, Edwards got the win when Gaines went red by a bunch and threw away a quicker much quicker E.T.
Edwards was able to find his missing RT numbers for the final against Greg Stanfield, but it was his reaction time that let him down, posting a .084 to Stanfield's .020 and allowing Stanfield to take the holeshot victory (6.665 to 6.627).
Edwards and the rest of the Pro Stock drivers had a short week off to decompress from all that is "Indy" and the first event in the Countdown to One. This weekend they head to zMax Dragway, just outside Charlotte, North Carolina, where Edwards looks to improve on his fifty-two point lead over Allen Johnson in the Countdown and make more gains in the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge during the 3rd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.
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