With just two races in the books for the young 2012 NHRA season, K&N's Mike Edwards came back from a near-miss at the number one Pro Stock qualifying spot in Pomona to sit on top of the pack at the latest race at Firebird International Raceway, just outside Phoenix, Arizona. Edwards was able to turn the tables on current K&N Horsepower Challenge leader, Jason Line, after giving the pole up to him during the first event of the season, this time bumping Line from the top by just three thousandths of a second to take the top spot, the $3,000 K&N Low Qualifier bonus check and helping himself gain a little ground by receiving the maximum points awarded during each event for the most prestigious event in all of Pro Stock, the K&N Horsepower Challenge.
Edwards was able to turn the tables on current K&N Horsepower Challenge leader, Jason Line, after giving the pole up to him during the first event of the season.
Jason Line came out swinging during the first qualifying session when he posted a track E.T. record of 6.556 at 211.00 MPH. Right on his heels was K&N's Mike Edwards, just a thousandth of a second behind and with a little track record setting of his own when he blazed through the traps at 211.13 MPH. Before the dust settled for the day, both drivers would reset their previous lap track records, Line improving another three thousandths to a 6.553 and Edwards bumping his MPH up to 211.53 during session number two.
"It's good, but it will not stand," Line said of his 6.553 E.T. after Friday's sessions came to a close. "Somebody is going to go faster. I think there are several cars that haven't made the type of runs they are capable of making, including ours. [Saturday] is definitely going to be a little faster."
Line was right. The teams and the track seemed to gel even more right out of the gate on Saturday as they made their way through the third qualifying session of the event. With air conditions very similar to the previous session on Friday, teams were able to really start dialing in their tune-ups and making better use of all available horsepower in the low humidity.
My guys did an exceptional job this week and we really made four nice runs.
There was a lot of position juggling during this session as quite a few teams stepped up their game including Vincent Nobile, Ronnie Humphrey and Allen Johnson. While Line came up short and couldn't come near his previous efforts, Mike Edwards shot around Line to take over the number one spot when he picked up over two hundredths with his 6.536, once again resetting the Firebird International Raceway Pro Stock track E.T. record.
After the fourth and final session, other teams could only manage to jockey for position for Sunday's eliminations. Line was able to make his own 6.53 run in an attempt to snag back the number one spot from Edwards, but came up just a few thousandths short for his effort and would have to settle for number two.
When the qualifying rounds came to a close for the NHRA Arizona Nationals, it would be secured K&N's Mike Edwards securing his 40th career number one qualifier, fifth overall at the track and fourth consecutive at Firebird International Raceway.
"There's something about the desert," said Edwards after qualifying concluded. "Our car seems to run really good here. I can't put my finger on why this happens, but we even ran good in the heat here last year. Anytime that you can qualify number one, it's really good for us. My guys did an exceptional job this week and we really made four nice runs. We hung on. Jason [Line] and Greg [Anderson] really came on strong in the final qualifying session. It [qualifying numbers] is all packed in together and it is just fun to go up there and compete against those kind of guys. But, tomorrow is another day and we will see how that goes."
While the 2012 NHRA season may still be fresh, the hunt for the top qualifying positions in the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge is deep into action. With just nine events left to acquire points before the big shootout in Norwalk, Ohio slated for early July, Edwards recent accomplishment at Phoenix begins to give him a little more breathing room in the number two spot, now forty points in front of Greg Anderson at number three and helping him to zone in on current leader Jason Line, still ninety-five points ahead.
Teams get a short break after back-to-back events before firing up again at one of the more historic venues on the NHRA tour and the 43rd running of the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida March 8-11.
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