Mike Edwards wrapped up the regular season by adding his third number one qualifier in a row during the 47th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona, California. With the accomplishment, he and his Penhall/K&N Pontiac tightened the points between the top three drivers to only ninety-five, in the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge.
Mike Edwards grabs his third number one qualifier in a row
Mike Edwards during the 47th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona
During the very first qualifying session and the only scheduled Pro Stock run on Thursday, Edwards, who had both qualified number one and won the previous event at Las Vegas, continued to show that he and his team were on to something when he thundered down the historic southern California track to the tune of a 6.520. The run also reset the track Pro Stock E.T. record and set the bar fairly high for the rest of the field. Greg Anderson landed in the provisional number two spot but with his very respectful 6.537, he would need to find a ton if he hoped to pass Edwards.
Edwards was quite pleased with his first hit at the track and even though he left the other teams well in his rearview mirror, he pointed out he thought he had more as track conditions were in his opinion the best he had seen in years. "I think I can go quicker," he said. "The whole class will go faster."
When Friday rolled along, weather conditions were similar to Thursday's session, although the adjusted altitude was over three-hundred feet to the worse and the numbers on the boards showed it. This time around it would be Greg Anderson who would post the quickest pass of the pack, [6.543] but still miles off from Edwards fifty-two. Edwards, now making a pass in the opposite lane from last session, fell off his pace a full four-hundredths of a second by only covering the quarter mile in 6.560.
Other than a few moves for several teams, the order of the field changed very little and Edwards noted that he wasn't surprised, because "conditions changed a lot. Conditions got considerably worse."
For Saturday's final two scheduled sessions, Mother Nature draped the facility with very cool and very moist air and while the first part of that equation is great for the naturally aspirated power plants that make up Pro Stock, the ladder is not so friendly and the teams did all they could to combat the much higher water grains.
Session number one of the day also had track temps nearly twenty degrees cooler than the day before. So teams weren't only making engine adjustments, they needed to be concerned with how they would get that power successfully, and safety, down to the track. Most teams did not improve and many were lucky to hang with anywhere near their numbers from previous sessions. Edwards slowed once more and this time it would be Rodger Brogdon with the quickest of the session with his 6.552.
After a rain delay or two, and yet another threatening to drop rain from the sky at any moment, the final Pro Stock qualifying session of the 2011 season was able to be completed in just the nick of time. With a track temp now below seventy degrees and even more water grains, due to the impending weather coming into the area, this session of Pro Stock was certainly not the prettiest of the weekend, as all the factors being thrown at the teams made it fairly tough.
Most teams were well off their pace from earlier in the event and nowhere near Edwards' opening session 6.520, which would remain the quickest of the weekend's qualifying and keep Edwards on the pole for Sunday. It would be his third number one in a row.
"We're hoping to finish up strong," Edwards said shortly following the final session. "We haven't run good at the last few races and we stumbled this weekend. We never really hit on anything today."
While Edwards may not have been able to win the event, his recent successes catapulted him to the number two spot in the 2011 NHRA Pro Stock Championship year-end standings, the second highest finish of his career. In regards to the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge, Edwards' great run of number ones as of late, has helped him shorten the distance between his number three spot and current leader, Jason Line down to ninety-five points.
The K&N Horsepower Challenge chase is well into the second half of the 2012 qualifying season with eleven events remaining for teams to grab one of the elite seven spots by earning as many qualifying points at each event as they can. Again for 2012, the eighth and final position will be awarded to the team who earns the highest amount of fan votes.
The eight teams will square off for the biggest single payday in all of NHRA Pro Stock and the $50,000 championship check from K&N Engineering during the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio in July 2012.
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.