The Pro Stock drivers in the NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series are jockeying for position in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. The NHRA season opener at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona gave the seven drivers in the K&N Horsepower Challenge a chance to show what their teams have in store for the races in Las Vegas in April. The drivers have three races to gain qualifying points for the K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas.
K&N Horsepower Challenge
"It's awesome to have a series that has a special race," said Mike Edwards, one of the seven drivers in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. "Pro stock is the only category now that has a special race. It's so good to be involved with K&N and all those fine folks over there. They've been a tremendous help to us and the whole Pro Stock class."
Allen Johnson, Jason Line, Erica Enders-Stevens, Greg Anderson, Vincent Nobile and V. Gaines are also competing in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. An eighth driver will be selected by the fans to compete in Las Vegas. Fans can vote for the final driver at KNFilters.com. Ron Krisher, Jeg Coughlin, Warren Johnson, Larry Morgan, Shane Gray, Kurt Johnson, Dave Connolly, Greg Stanfield, Steve Kent, Chris McGaha, Mark Martino, JR Carr, Ronnie Humphrey and Rickie Jones are among the drivers fans can vote on.
"It's a privilege. It's an honor. It's something every year we try to do," Edwards said. "We try to get in the K&N. It's kind of like our Super Bowl of Pro Stock racing. We get to race for the big money for one day. It's an honor and a privilege. Our two goals are to win the K&N Horsepower Challenge and to win the championship."
Pro Stock's Mike Edwards awarded K&N Horsepower Challenge # 1 Qualifier
The eight drivers will compete for a $50,000 prize at the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on April 6.
"First things first, we have the Challenge coming up in Vegas," Edwards said. "I'm looking forward to having it in Vegas. We never run good at Norwalk. It's going to be better. I think it'll be a better show. I know it's going to be good. We're really excited about it."
In the first three NHRA Pro Stock events of the years, drivers earn points in qualifying. The driver started earning points in the season opener at Pomona. They will continue to earn points at Phoenix and Gainesville, Fla.
"We all have to work very hard to gain those qualifying points, to be a part of the challenge at all each year," said Allen Johnson. "Every team out here is really focused before qualifying on qualifying good just for those points and the chance to show off at the K&N Challenge. K&N does a great job with it all the way around."
Edwards said he doesn't change his approach to qualifying because of the K&N Horsepower Challenge, but it does create an incentive to perform well in qualifying.
"It's just like racing on Sunday," Edwards said. "You're just racing for a bigger prize. Fifty grand, that's a lot of money for us. You have to get motivated and you have to do your job. There's a little added pressure for me because I get some support from K&N. I want to do good for them and they've been so good to me. I've never won the thing. I've been runner-up a couple times. I'd like to win the thing this year."
Line said he wants to be in position to win the prize money.
"Every week I like to get that No. 1 qualifying money," Line said. "That's a big deal. I've never won the Horsepower Challenge. It's always eluded me. I want that trophy and I want that ring. One of these years I'm going to get it. It's a tough race. It's one of those deals where you just sort of go for it. It's a cool thing to be a part of."
Line added that his team puts a little more emphasis on qualifying, especially during the K&N Horsepower Challenge.
"We've been the No. 1 qualifier for the last two years in a row," Line said. "We're creeping back up toward the top. It's a big deal. It's always good to be No. 1. We put a lot of emphasis on it. It's important to us."
Allen Johnson said the K&N Horsepower Challenge brings out the best in his team and his competitors.
"During the Challenge, you got the best of the best there," Allen Johnson said. "We have to be very aggressive and on our game. We probably make sure we have our best stuff and we're very aggressive. It makes me try to make sure my shift points are exactly right and stage exactly right. It takes every ingredient this team, car, driver and engine to gain those valuable K&N points."
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