While the 2013 season may still be young, it has been quite good one already for K&N’s Mike Edwards and his all-new 2013 Chevy Pro Stock Camaro. After taking the NHRA Pro Stock pole at the first five events of the season, including the most recent NHRA event and the 4th annual Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Edwards finally was able to put the first check in the win column for season at the race just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.
NHRA racer Mike Edwards and his all-new 2013 Chevy Pro Stock Camaro
K&N’s Mike Edwards (2nd from top) at 4th annual Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
Starting with the first event out of the gate for Edwards and his Interstate Batteries/K&N/I Am Second Camaro at Pomona, he has been laying down some fierce numbers in qualifying. He made his fist final round appearance of the season during the second event on the schedule at Phoenix, where he took runner-up honors and from there, headed across the country to reset the NHRA Pro Stock E.T. record during the GatorNationals in Gainesville, Florida with his 6.473.
Edwards left Florida with a semi-final finish and crossed back to the west coast where he again took the top qualifying honors during the 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas and added more points to his growing total with another semi-final showing.
Those were all just stepping stones to the weekend he would have in Concord, North Carolina.
Rain during the first day of qualifying on Friday washed out the majority of the professional sessions, with only a good handful of Pro Stock drivers getting a look at the track, and Edwards was not one of them. The following day, Edwards came right out of the gate to blaze down the zMax Dragway quarter-mile to a 6.471 showing he was well prepared for the event, even with the shortened amount of runs.
In the final session, he would follow that up with a 6.490, the quickest of the session and all he needed to back up the 6.471 from earlier to make it the new NHRA National Pro Stock E.T. record and grab his 46th career number one qualifier.
Mike Edwards wins NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Pro Stock class
“Today was an awesome day,” Edwards said after qualifying commenced. “I never would have believed that we could be number one at the first five races. That’s so hard to do. So far, qualifying has been great, but I need to work on race day. Hopefully we can run good tomorrow.”
Now with five consecutive number one qualifiers, setting and re-setting the Pro Stock E.T. record already this season, Edwards was just lacking the icing on the cake and that was to go on to win on Sunday.
The former 2009 Pro Stock champ from Coweta, Oklahoma first faced, Frank Gugliotta, Vincent Nobile and V. Gaines in round one of the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. It was Nobile out of the gate first, but by the 330 foot mark, Edwards had made his way past and went on to share the round win with V. Gaines.
Edwards would again face V. Gaines in the round two quad matchup along with Greg Anderson and 2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge champ, Allen Johnson. Both Gaines and Johnson turned it red, giving the instant win to Anderson and Edwards. Edwards still had plenty for the group and laid down a nice 6.482 on his way to the final round.
In an all-Camaro-final, Edwards faced Shane Gray, Erica Enders-Stevens and Greg Anderson. Edwards would use a .009 reaction time paired with 6.495 to edge out Enders-Stevens for his first win of 2013 and the 35th NHRA Pro Stock Wally of his career. In doing so, Edwards was also the first Pro Stock driver to win the Dollar General Four-Wide Nationals from the pole position and ended a dry spell that stretched back to Bristol in June of last year.
"It does feel satisfying to actually close the deal," Edwards said winning. "We've had numerous opportunities, I guess five of 'em. It does feel good to win. Anytime you can run real good and win, it feels good.”
"It was just a phenomenal day -- phenomenal weekend, really. After all the rain, we got some great weather and some great racing. It just feels good to win. It really does," said the Interstate Batteries/K&N Camaro pilot.
"We ran good, but we just were really, really conservative. I keep shooting myself in the foot on Sunday. We made a commitment that if we run really good, if we get beat it's not going to be because we squared the tires or shook the tires. We were going to get beat because something else happened, probably because of that lame-brained driver we've got," Edwards continued.
"It just feels good to go down the track every run," he said. "If you give yourself an opportunity to go to the finish line, you've got a chance to win, especially in our car."
"Just hat's off to Paul Hoskins and Dan [Cordier] and Allan [Lindsey] and all those guys. They do a tremendous job. They worked hard over the winter," he said. "Phenomenal. I don't know -- it seems like we keep getting faster and faster.”
When asked to compare this season to his 2009 title season, Edwards noted, he has gotten off to a much better start. He won five events that year, so he admitted, "wins aren't there yet. But anytime you can run good and have a chance, that's all you can ask for. Right now we're doing that. It's a long season. [We] feel good about our program, feel good about our car, and my team's coming together. One championship is awesome. Another would be great. That's a bird in the bush right now. We're just going to try to keep consistent now and try to keep the wheels on this thing."
When it comes to adding up the points, the K&N racer is quick to point out that he's "absolutely not" looking at the points at this early stage of the season.
"The first thing we do when we set out is to make the Countdown. We haven't done that yet, so we've got to keep going," Edwards explained. "It's two seasons in one. Once you get in, anything can happen in those last six [races]. It's a long season, but I like our start. I like the way our team's going. I like everything about what's happening. We've got some races to go. I hope we can get stronger."
Edwards and his team do an extensive amount of testing between events and he points out that he won’t be letting up any time in the near future.
"We test all the time. We tested Monday and Tuesday before we came here, at home in Tulsa. This class, these guys, they're blood-hungry. They don't stop for nothin'. You'd better not look back -- they'll run smooth over you. We've got to keep our heads to the grindstone, keep working away."
While Edwards may not be counting the points, he and his Interstate Battery/K&N Filters Chevy Camaro have earned their way to the top of the NHRA Pro Stock standings with their current eight-four point lead over defending Pro Stock champion, Allen Johnson. The teams will do battle again back to the dual lane tracks, starting with the O'Reilly Springnationals at Royal Purple Raceway at Baytown, Texas, just outside of Houston.
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