In a class where minute thousandths of a second can mean all the difference in the world, K&N's Mike Edwards has been knocking at the door of his next number one Pro Stock qualifier for the last handful of races. He and his Penhall/K&N Pontiac GXP made it stick during the most recent event in Chandler, Arizona for the 27th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals.
Mike Edwards at the 27th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals
Mike Edwards and his Penhall/K&N Pontiac GXP
Edwards had been a provisional pole sitter during the last several races, only to be knocked back at the last moment by current 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge leader, Jason Line. His luck changed during the Arizona Nationals, but it wasn't from the first hit.
During Friday's first session, it was Warren, Ohio's Ron Krisher who stunned the field when his 6.658 in the nearly four thousand feet of air [adjusted altitude] put him at the top of the heap, but Edwards would have something to say about that later in the day for session number two.
While the air temperature rose slightly between session one and two, the track had been allowed to cool from nearly one-hundred thirty degrees to under one-twenty. NHRA Pro Stock teams not only tune their engines for the conditions at hand, but lots of attention is paid to the car's suspension components and setup, as well. With cars hanging on the edge of every ounce of power they can safely put to the ground, even slight changes in the conditions can make a world of difference.
During session number two, Edwards was able to fully take advantage of what he learned in his first pass and the lower track temps to bump the number one spot to a 6.642. Line tied the E.T. during the very next pair, but once again Edwards would grab the top spot with his faster 209.10 mile-per-hour.
"It was real toasty," said Edwards of the air temperature, shortly following Friday's second session. "I guess the one thing about it, is at least it's dry. Back at home [Oklahoma] when it is 100 degrees it is really humid. This was a good first day, a good start. The track came around pretty good there in the night run. Tomorrow will be a different day, but hey we made two good runs, so hat's off to my guys and we'll see what tomorrow holds. We like these conditions. It seems like we run better when it is hot and I do not know why, I can't explain that. For some reason it seems like we run a little bit better in the heat."
"We made a good run, but I think we can run better," Edwards continued following Friday's passes. "Conditions should be better tomorrow and I look for some times to improve definitely."
Teams did the best they could to fully capitalize on what they knew would be the best conditions they would have available during qualifying sessions. In the second to last pair, Jason Line, who also currently leads the NHRA Pro Stock Championship points, streaked down the quarter-mile passing Edwards when he posted a 6.620. But Edwards would save the best for the final pair and in the same lane Line just took away his number one, he snatched it back by being three thousandths of a second quicker to the stripe with a 6.617.
In the fourth and final Pro Stock qualifying session for the 27th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, Edwards was lucky to hold on to his number one spot, as teams were unable to surpass his number, most not able to even duplicate numbers from the previous session. During the final pair of Pro Stock to go down the track, Edwards knew his chances were good of going into Sunday on the pole and went for what seemed to be a little testing. Unfortunately, he experienced extremely violent tire shake at the hit and had to push in the clutch and abort the run.
"We ran good this morning but struggled getting off of the starting line," Edwards admitted after Saturday's passes. "We just haven't gotten it figured out and we are a little concerned about that. We didn't get down tonight, so we are definitely scratching our heads."
"We've run good at times," Edwards said. "When the temperature gets warmer, we just seem to run better. The engine runs better for whatever reason. We have been off, hit-or-miss on the West Coast. We have been trying stuff on the car and we feel it has been better at times and sometimes it bites us like tonight. We have got to get back to the drawing board for sure."
All-in-all, Mike Edwards' 6.617 held and for the effort he gained the highest amount of qualifying points for the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge along with the $3,000 Low Qualifier Bonus Check from K&N Engineering. The feat helped him maintain his third place spot, sixty-five points behind Greg Anderson at number two and one-hundred twenty-five back from current leader, Jason Line.
With just two remaining events on the 2011 schedule, the teams will enjoy one weekend off before heading to their next to the last event in Las Vegas and the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals.
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