World Champ, Rookie of the Year &
World Champ In That Order

By Bob Frey-As posted on Drag Race Central


Mike Edwards
There aren't a lot of racers who can say that they have won an NHRA World Championship. There aren't many racers who can say that they have been a Rookie of the Year. And there aren't many racers who can say that they have won another world championship. And there aren't many racers who can say that they did all of those things and did it in that order. Well, Mike Edwards can. Mike won the Modified World Championship in 1981, and then, fifteen years later, he was named the Rookie of the Year for his performance in Pro Stock. In 2009, thirteen years later, he won the Full Throttle World Championship in Pro Stock. Now that's a pretty good resume any way you look at it, isn't it?

Edwards celebrates
Modified win in 1981.
Since Pro Stock began as a class on the NHRA national event stage in 1970 there have only been fifteen series champions. That list includes some of the greats in the sport, like Ronnie Sox, Bill Jenkins, Bob Glidden, Lee Shepherd, Warren Johnson and ten more drivers who have all contributed to the great legacy of the class. The latest driver to add his name to that list is Mike Edwards, a man who has been at this a lot longer than most fans realize. Before we get to his Pro Stock career we should mention that Mike had a great career in the sportsman ranks, and that included two really good years in the Modified Eliminator class. Did you know that Mike won a total of nine divisional races in Modified Eliminator and that his first final round came in 1979? It took place at Thunder Valley Raceway in Marion, South Dakota, when he beat Sie Vandenberg's C/SM Camaro in the final round. He followed that up with four more wins in 1980 and then added four more in his championship year of 1981. Following a good year in 1980 the folks at National Dragster named Mike the "Up and Coming Sportsman Driver of the Year," and he rewarded them by going out and winning the first race of 1981, the Winternationals in Pomona. Mike accomplished those goals while driving a Ford Maverick that was powered by a small-block Ford engine, and he did it with the help of his partner, Bill Long, and all along, everyone who watched him knew that he was something special, because just like he did this year, he had a dominant car that beat some of the best in the class at that time. A win at the Mile-High Nationals later in the 1981 season helped Mike win that national championship and it also earned him the coveted Quaker State Sportsman Cup as the top sportsman racer in the country. "I have to admit that I thought I was pretty hot stuff after winning that," Mike said. "And it paid $10,000 and that was a lot of money back then. It still is!" Mike will also have the distinction of going down in history as the last NHRA Modified champion ever, since after his title the class was merged into a combination of Super Stock and Competition Eliminator. With no place to race, Mike returned to the Winternationals in 1982 where he qualified in the Pro Stock class, but after that he basically returned to Oklahoma to work on the family farm and to help

Edwards vs. Steve Schmidt
at Pomona in 1996
his father in his construction business. Later on, he went to work for David and Robert Nickens and he helped them both at the shop and at the track. But after that Pomona appearance we wouldn't hear from Mike again on the national scene until the 1995 season when he raced three times in the pro class before really getting serious in 1996. That year Mike competed at all nineteen races, made five final rounds, won three of them and finished third in the points behind only Jim Yates and Warren Johnson and he was named Co-Rookie of the Year along with Matt Hines. Did you know that his third place finish that year was Mike's best finish in the points until he won the championship this season? His three wins were also a season-best until he won five this year in ten final round appearances. He also won fifty-three rounds this year and that is a career high for Mike. Did you know that Mike's fifty-three round wins were more than double the amount of rounds he won in any previous year in his career? His final totals after this year show a record of 274-226, for an even five hundred rounds of Pro Stock racing for his career. Not bad for a man who once described himself as, "A farm boy who just got lucky."


Edwards recieves one of
his No. 1 qualifier award.

Mike's 2009 trip to the championship was highlighted by the fact that he had one of the best cars in the class, not only for this year but in any year. Did you know that for the entire year Mike never qualified lower than fifth, and that he was the top qualifier sixteen times? And, when it really counted, at the end of the season, he ran off nine consecutive top qualifying spots and that's one of the best streaks in the history of Pro Stock. But, as I always say, in the interest of fair reporting, it's a long way from the record. Did you know that Bob Glidden once qualified number one at twenty-three consecutive races? He did that between 1986 and 1988 and that followed up his performance in 1978 and 1979 when he was the top guy at fifteen consecutive races. More recently, Greg Anderson was number one at eleven straight races in 2004 so Mike has something to shoot for when he starts the new year. Mike's sixteen number one spots this year moved him past such greats as Bruce Allen and Lee Shepherd on the all-time list where he now resides in the number seven spot. He also had big power and that means a lot of top speeds for the year. Coming into 2009 Mike had only set top speed at four races, and this year he did it fourteen times for a total of eighteen which is sixth best in the Pro Stock ranks. Like I said, it was a very good year for Mike.

Edwards and team celebrate win.

Mike will be the first one to tell you that he and his team may have won even more races or put that championship away earlier if it weren't for one area, the driver. "I always said that I had the horse, now if I just have the rider I can win this thing," he said. "At times I was the weak link, but it all worked out well in the end. We had such a good car and I think I got a little defensive with my driving. I didn't want to give a race away and you just can't do that in this class. You have to be aggressive." And while he may not have always been first off the line, by the time the cars went by the sixty-foot clocks, more often than not Mike was out in front. "We had a very good car and we didn't make a lot of bad runs this year. I mean, this car was fast." That is something that caught the attention of the other races in the class. "Mike has a great car, he's making big power and the car just doesn't make many bad runs," Greg Anderson told me during the year. And then he added, "That's a tough combination to beat." That consistency showed in the fact that, for the entire year, Mike only lost in the opening round of eliminations twice, in St. Louis and Sonoma, and that's the way to put a lot of points on the board. After the St. Louis loss he got back on track, literally and figuratively, and went to the final round at the next five races. Along the way he was getting help from veteran crew man, Terry Adams along with Josh Robinson, Allen Lindsey and Jon Phillips at the track, while Nick Ferri and Paul Hoskins did most of the work back at the shop. It's that "at the shop" thing that may have

Mike and Lisa Edwards
played the biggest part in Mike's championship season. "Two years ago we were ready to quit," he said. "We hadn't been running well, at least not well enough to contend for the championship, and we didn't see any way to step things up without starting out own engine program." Enter longtime friend and supporter, Roger Stull, who stepped up and gave Mike the resources he needed to start his own engine program. Roger, who went to school with Joe Gibbs, is also involved in the Young Life program that Mike has supported for years. Along with his wife, Ann, Roger has been a great fan of Mike and Lisa Edwards for several years now. "With Roger's help we made a commitment to try it for two years, and I guess it's worked out pretty well." The engine program has paid big dividends for Mike, who went from merely competing at the races to dominating them. Speaking of which, his performance in Richmond this year was the stuff that legends are made of. He qualified number one, got all the bonus points in each round of qualifying, won the race and set the national record. That, by the way, means he took 150 points away with him and that's the first and only time, with the new qualifying format, that anyone has done that in any class. "That was really a big weekend for us," he said in a major understatement. From a mechanical standpoint, that race was huge, and from a psychological standpoint it may have been even bigger.

 


Mike Edwards
Winning a championship is nice, but to earn the respect and admiration of your peers is even better, and that's exactly what Mike did this year. All of the Pro Stock racers that I spoke with had nothing but nice things to say about him and they certainly admired what he did on the track this year. "Let's face it, he made us all look bad this year," Greg Anderson said. "It will make us all go back and work harder during the off-season." Of course, Mike will be working hard, too, and, despite what you may have heard, he will return as a driver in 2010. "A couple of times this year I thought that maybe we could do better with someone else behind the wheel, but I never really entertained the idea of having someone else drive," he said. "I like driving, but I also like making the car run fast. To me, that's what it's all about. Sometimes, when you're wearing two hats, tuning and driving, something has to suffer, and this year it was my driving." Mike added that he will begin testing after the first of the year and is prepared to open the season with the same Jerry Haas-built car that took him to the championship. "We also have another car, one out of V. Gaines' shop and we may test that one, too. We were going to use it in 2009 but we started the year so well that we just didn't want to change." Good call, Mike. He added that Ron Krisher drove one of the cars from V's shop this year and said that it looks like a very good chassis. "It's nice to have options, but we like what we had in 2009." I guess he did!



With a good car, a solid team, his own engine program and a wife that supports the entire operation, Mike said that 2009 was a dream come true. "You never really set out, at least I didn't, saying that you are going to win the championship. You like to improve, and that was our goal at the start of the year. Now we'll have to see what we can do to back it up." Based on what we saw in '09, the rest of the Pro Stock teams better get busy, because it appears they have a lot of work to do if they want to stop Mike from repeating as champ in 2010.


NHRA Awards Ceremony - Edwards Receives Championship Bounty And Much More

For the first time in his NHRA Pro Stock career, and the second time overall, Mike Edwards stood on the NHRA stage as a champion. Edwards received his bookend trophy to his 1982 Modified crown during the Monday evening festivities for Monday at the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Awards Ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in West Los Angeles.

Edwards was honored as the 15th different Pro Stock champion during the ceremony that included the crowning of the other three NHRA Full Throttle titlist and many other special awards. The moment highlighted Edwards run to the top which including a record-tying 16 top qualifying efforts, five victories, 10 final-round appearances, and only two losses in the opening round.

Along with his championship hardware, Edwards earned the Quest for the Full Throttle Moment in Pro Stock with his record 6.509 run during the Richmond event. The title, which was voted on by fans through nhra.com, is considered the biggest moment during the 2009 racing season and earned Edwards and additional $15,000.

Below is the link on nhra.com that recaps the entire festivities

http://www.nhra.com/story/2009/11/16/full-throttle-series-champions-crowned-massey-named-top-rookie/

Catch All The NHRA Awards Ceremony On Internet

The NHRA Full Throttle Awards Ceremony will be available to viewers worldwide on the Internet at NHRA.com and the NHRA channel on YouTube beginning Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT. It marks the first time the event will be available to NHRA fans via the Internet. 

The NHRA Full Throttle Awards Ceremony will be available via webcast nearly in its entirety. The webcast will feature five to six 30-minute segments, for a total running time of up to three hours. The NHRA Full Throttle Awards Ceremony, showcasing the world champions in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle, took place Monday, Nov. 16, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The webcast also will include the crowning of the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner, the winner of the Full Throttle Moment of the Year in each of the four Professional categories, and the acceptance speeches from the Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle world champions.

Here's the direct link to where the ceremony will be shown

http://www.nhra.com/ceremony.aspx

 

THIRD ANNUAL MIKE AIELLO AWARD PRESENTED TO MIKE EDWARDS

Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards was named the third recipient of CompetitionPlus.com's Mike Aiello Spirit of Drag Racing Award Saturday at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
 
The award honors Aiello, a longtime drag-racing fan and former Pro Stock crew member for Jerry Yeoman, who spent his final years confined to a wheelchair after a workplace injury. Despite physical hardship and severe mobility limitations, he not only attended drag races but made dozens of friends among racers, crew members, and media with his positive outlook and unselfish behavior.
 
Aiello passed away December 29, 2006, at age 39, in Santa Monica, California.
 
The recipient is someone who has persevered and remained positive in spite of hardship.
 
Edwards, 52, of Coweta, Oklahoma, has driven the Young Life/A.R.T. Pontiac GXP to five victories and 15 No. 1 qualifying positions this season. In his bid for a first Pro Stock Full Throttle championship in 16 years of competing, Edwards not only won the 2009 championship but also tied Greg Anderson's 2004 NHRA record for most top-qualifying awards in a single season.
 
CompetitionPlus.com owner Bobby Bennett made the presentation to Edwards Saturday morning at the Auto Club Raceway of Pomona, before the third session of qualifying for the National Hot Rod Association's Auto Club of Southern California Finals.
 
"This means a lot to me. It really does," Edwards, a longtime friend of Aiello, said. "I really adored Mike. He always had something good to say about everybody. I don't know what he went through, but I can imagine what he went through. I know he loved what he was doing. It's shame he couldn't be here today, because he meant a lot to me. He really did."
 
John Medlen, John Force Racing crew chief and director of the Eric Medlen Project devoted to race-car safety, was the inaugural Mike Aiello Award honoree. Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson was the 2009 recipient.

EDWARDS' DAY ARRIVES
Written by Bobby Bennett, Photos by Roger Richards    Sunday, 15 November 2009

Zak Elcock, NHRA Publicist, introduced Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards to the assembled media at the NHRA Auto Club Finals in Pomona, Ca. As he said, “The 2009 NHRA Pro Stock champion Mr. Mike Edwards”, the newly crown champion smiled.

“Doesn’t that sound good?” Edwards said.

Edwards didn’t just clinch a championship; he did it with an exclamation point.

He entered the event needing only to qualify to clinch, but at the end of the day on Saturday, he did so in the same fashion that he’s done for at least 16 times this season. Edwards qualified No. 1 in what could be his final event as a driver.

At least for two days, Edwards isn’t thinking about the future.

“I cannot begin to explain the incredible feeling that I am experiencing now,” Edwards said. “I can say words but they just don’t describe what I am feeling. You just sink it in because it is all real. It’s been worth the wait.”

For Edwards, the wait to be a champion again has been 28 years. He captured the 1981 crown in Modified eliminator and then the class was discontinued.

“I hope they don’t stop the class,” Edwards said. “That was a special time for me, I was 21 years old, and I thought I could get plenty of those [championships].”

Of all the years that passed since that monumental season, 2009 was different than any other. Edwards believed there was something special in the works for this team from the first final round of the season in Pomona.

“I believed we had picked up some over the winter but until you get out here and race against the best teams you really don’t know,” Edwards explained. “We knew we were going to be good, we just didn’t know how good.”

Edwards pointed out that confidence didn’t prevent his team from going that extra mile.

“There were times with our testing that we were doing burnouts in the morning before the sun had even come up,” he added. “We tested and tested and gave everything we had to try and achieve this. It’s a lot of hard work and it has paid off.”
 
Edwards leaned towards advice given to him in the early years of his Pro Stock driving career for inspiration. It was his late team owner,  John Kite, who suggested the way to become a champion was to surround himself with good people.

He believes that’s what the team did years ago and with the title, that objective paid off.

“We’re just a bunch of guys who got together a few years ago with a plan to give us the best opportunity, Roger and Ann Stull, and we decided to do it the right way,” Edwards said of his team owner and crew. “We started our shop there in Charlotte with Nick and Paul and Carl, and decided to do it the right way and this has been a long time coming. We all kept pulling at the right end of the rope and here we are two and a half years later living our dream. Then there’s been the support of my wife Lisa and my team.

“It’s all because of God and I give him the glory.”

It's Finally Over - Edwards Claims First
NHRA Pro Stock Championship

The run for the ultimate prize in the NHRA vault finally came to an end for Mike Edwards at the conclusion of qualifying for the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, when he was handed the Pro Stock championship hardware. What was a mere formality of Edwards securing his first championship had to wait until qualifying concluded before he could be crowned the 15th NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock champion.

"What an honor this is," Edwards said. "This team worked so hard to reach this goal and now I am proud to stand here with the championship trophy for them."

Edwards took away any doubt that the champion trophy would be going home with his Young Life/A.R.T. team in qualifying. In the first session he blasted to the pole. In the last qualifying round of 2009, Edwards put the exclamation point on his first career championship with the quickest pass of the weekend, a 6.562 at 210.64 mph. It was Edwards' 16th No. 1 this season, matching the all-time single-season high in NHRA history (Greg Anderson in 2004).

"It's an unbelievable feeling. I'm surrounded by a great bunch of guys. I feel like there's times I've let them down and they've never given up on me," said Edwards, who made his pro debut in 1982. "It's been a long time coming, we've all just been pulling from the same end of the rope . it's been worth the wait.

"We gave everything we had to make this happen this year and it's paid off, it really has," said Edwards, who was awarded the $250,000 Pro Stock champion's purse

EDWARDS ON THE CUSP OF TITLE
Written by CompetitionPlus    Thursday, 12 November 2009 11:29

How close is Mike Edwards to winning his first NHRA Pro Stock championship? Well, a measly 12 points is all that stands between him and the gold Wally.
 
The crown could be Edwards as early as Thursday during the first qualifying session at the season-finale Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona. With Edwards receiving 10 points for going through technical inspection, all he would need to do is qualify No. 1 or 2 in that first session, or for Greg Anderson not to qualify in the top three to clinch the championship.
 
"These have been a nerve-wracking couple weeks, just waiting to finish this off so we can maybe enjoy the rest of the race weekend," Edwards admitted. "This is high-level stress. The nice part is we only have just a bit more work to do to finish this off and go out and just race the rest of the event."
 
For Edwards, the championship run has been a special one because of what it means not only to him, but to the rest of the Young Life/A.R.T. team.
 
"The entire group has been so dedicated to reaching this goal and that is what makes it special," he said. "When you go into something with a group of individuals, who are willing to give everything they have and more to come out on top; that is something amazing to be part of."
 
Nearly everyone in drag racing, especially a few other Pro Stock drivers are comforted that Edwards, who clearly has been the dominant car in 2009 with 15 No. 1 qualifying efforts and the most final-round appearances, is going to take the champion gold trophy back to Oklahoma.
 
In a recent interview on competitionplus.com, current second place runner Anderson said, "I'm happier than hell that this year it looks like the strongest car is going to win the championship. That's what I like about it. It didn't really matter to me how the points system worked this year because the strongest car is going to win it."
 
To Edwards, that is the best compliment he can get from a fellow racer. "When a racer of Greg Anderson's level gives you that kind of complement, it means a lot," said Edwards. "He is a true champion and it's an honor to get to pull to the line against guys like him, Jeg Coughlin, Jason Line, Greg Stanfield, V. Gaines, and all the other Pro Stock drivers.
 
"If we do what we need to for this championship, I hope I can represent the Pro Stock class like the 14 other racers who have held that title. What an honor to be part of that incredible fraternity."

NHRA Pro Stock Championship Is Close To Reality For Edwards

How close is Mike Edwards to winning his first NHRA Pro Stock championship? Well, a measly 12 points is all that stands between him and the gold Wally.
 
The crown could be Edwards as early as Thursday during the first qualifying session at the season-finale Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona. With Edwards receiving 10 points for going through technical inspection, all he would need to do is qualify No. 1 or 2 in that first session, or for Greg Anderson not to qualify in the top three to clinch the championship.
 
"These have been a nerve-wracking couple weeks, just waiting to finish this off so we can maybe enjoy the rest of the race weekend," Edwards admitted. "This is high-level stress. The nice part is we only have just a bit more work to do to finish this off and go out and just race the rest of the event."
 
For Edwards, the championship run has been a special one because of what it means not only to him, but to the rest of the Young Life/A.R.T. team.
 
"The entire group has been so dedicated to reaching this goal and that is what makes it special," he said. "When you go into something with a group of individuals, who are willing to give everything they have and more to come out on top; that is something amazing to be part of."
 
Nearly everyone in drag racing, especially a few other Pro Stock drivers are comforted that Edwards, who clearly has been the dominant car in 2009 with 15 No. 1 qualifying efforts and the most final-round appearances, is going to take the champion gold trophy back to Oklahoma.
 
In a recent interview on competitionplus.com, current second place runner Anderson said, "I'm happier than hell that this year it looks like the strongest car is going to win the championship. That's what I like about it. It didn't really matter to me how the points system worked this year because the strongest car is going to win it."
 
To Edwards, that is the best compliment he can get from a fellow racer. "When a racer of Greg Anderson's level gives you that kind of complement, it means a lot," said Edwards. "He is a true champion and it's an honor to get to pull to the line against guys like him, Jeg Coughlin, Jason Line, Greg Stanfield, V. Gaines, and all the other Pro Stock drivers.
 
"If we do what we need to for this championship, I hope I can represent the Pro Stock class like the 14 other racers who have held that title. What an honor to be part of that incredible fraternity."

Team Hopes To Leave 2009 With Exclamation Point On Season

In the early years of NHRA, the champion was decided at the final race of the year, a winner-take-all format.

Mike Edwards and his Young Life/A.R.T. team hope to put a beautiful capper to what has been an incredible 2009 season with the team's sixth victory and enjoy the off-season as not only the Pro Stock champion, but bragging rights as the only driver heading into the winter months on a winning note, and have that feeling they closed the year like a champion should.

In 1996, Edwards did just that when he left California with the Worlds Final trophy. "That made for a real sweet winter, because that let you enjoy the victory for a couple months," he said. "We know we have the car and horsepower to win Pomona, now we just need to get the job done at the 24th stop on the tour and then go enjoy the off-season."

Edwards has built a solid record at the Auto Club Dragway at Pomona over his career. In the 27 visits to the famed facility, he has compiled 29 round wins, which include four trips to the final. His last venture to the money round came at the season-opener, when he dropped a close decision to Jason Line.

"It is funny how nine months ago, we reached the final and as a team we knew that day we had a car that might be competitive," Edwards reflected. "We could have never imagined how the next 22 races would pan out for us. It has been one awesome season."

Quick Notes

In Richmond, set the Pro Stock e.t. record in the first round with a 6.509.

Has advanced to the final at 10 events in 2009, the most in Pro Stock.

In 2009, has captured 15 No. 1 Qualifier awards, the most in Pro Stock. He is one short of equalling Greg Anderson for the most in one season.

Captured five wins thus far in 2009 in Atlanta, Bristol, Seattle, Charlotte and the latest in Richmond.

Has qualified in the top five positions in all 23 NHRA events in 2009, with four times earning the No. 2 spot, and three times in the No. 4 position to go with his 15 poles and a single No. 5 qualifying effort.

Recorded his 20th career victory in Richmond, and has reached 40 finals over his career.

Mike Edwards has grabbed either low e.t. or top speed at 20 of the 22 events in 2009. He scored both the low e.t. and top speed of the event at eight races (Gainesville, Bristol, Topeka, Chicago, Englishtown, Denver, Seattle, Brainerd, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Dallas, and Las Vegas 2), and has left with low e.t. three other events (Phoenix, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Richmond), while garnering top speed at four others (Houston, Atlanta, Norwalk, and Reading).


Get The Vote Out For Mike Edwards In The
NHRA Full Throttle Moment Of The Year
With today being election day, lets all join forces and get Mike Edwards voted as the NHRA Full Throttle Moment Of The Year in Pro Stock when he set the national e.t. record with a 6.509 at the Richmond event. That moment is one of four finalist for the year-end award that will be announced at the end of the season. So log on to http://www.nhra.com/features/quest.aspx, and start voting today. The contest ends sometime next week. Make sure to get everyone you know involved, get your club clicking, and come back to NHRA.com each day and add another vote to put Mike Edwards on top of the election pole at the end.

Las Vegas Could Bring Big Payday To Edwards Team
With NHRA Pro Stock championship within reach, team knows they still have a bit more work to do to close out first title

With two races remaining on the schedule and a 128-point lead, or just over six rounds, Mike Edwards knows the NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock championship is within his grasps, but understands the chase is not over until he finishes some business at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals.

"These last couple weeks since Richmond have seemed like forever," he admitted. "I wish we could have gone straight to Las Vegas and got this over with."

Coming out of Richmond, Edwards earned every single point possible, 150 to be exact, to help extend his lead in the championship race over multi-time champion Greg Anderson.

"The toughest part has been trying to not lose the focus we have had all year," Edwards said. "We have gone about it as business as usual, except for a few distractions from the media and the like. It has helped that I have a great group around me that just keep working hard to achieve this goal."

For Edwards to mathematically clinch his first Pro Stock championship, he needs to leave the Las Vegas event with a 151 point lead, but realistically, if the rig pulls out and Edwards is more than 100 points ahead, the championship is all but over.

"We just need to go into Las Vegas and take care of the task at hand and not leave anything to chance," Edwards said. "I remember a couple years ago when Doug Kalitta seemed to have the Top Fuel title all locked up, but in Pomona, the worst-case scenario happened when Tony Schumacher won the event and set the e.t. mark in the final to steal the championship. So until nobody has a chance to catch us we will not celebrate."

The part that does make Edwards a bit nervous is he has not had a great record at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In fact, it has been the worst track on the schedule for the Young Life/A.R.T. camp. Edwards has garnered only five round wins in 17 trips to the facility and has never advanced past the second round.

"We have never done real well at that track for some reason, but in 2009 we have exorcised a few demons at a couple other tracks, so maybe stopping by during Halloween weekend, we can correct those problems as well," he said. "I hope we can scare away our past experience and spook up an absolutely perfect scene here and help create a memory that we will always love coming back to Las Vegas."

Edwards' Career Has Sparkled Throughout At the Starting Line

For one of the few times in his career, in 2009, Mike Edwards has not had to rely so much on getting the jump on the starting line and a few media outlets have pointed to that as one of his struggles this year. But in Richmond, Edwards proved why he has always been considered one of the best leavers in the sport when he stole the victory from Greg Anderson on a holeshot.

Over the course of his career, Edwards has been one of the best at stealing round wins with his starting-line prowess. In 1996, he was named the Slick 50 Driver of the Year for winning the most rounds based on a slower e.t.

Research compiled by dragracecentral.com, backs up the notion that Edwards is one of the elite at the art of the holeshot. Edwards has won a total of 59 rounds on his reaction time for his career. To put these numbers into perspective, Jeg Coughlin Jr. has a total of 72 holeshot wins to his credit.

When you dig a little deeper, is when the true numbers come out. Coughlin has competed in 634 rounds of competition, while Edwards has pulled to the line 494 times. When you take the averages based on the number of rounds competed and the total number of holeshot wins, Edwards has an average of 11.9 percent to Coughlin's 11.4 percent.
Quick Notes
 
In Richmond, set the Pro Stock e.t. record in the first round with a 6.509.
 
Has advanced to the final at 11 events in 2009, the most in Pro Stock.
 
In 2009, has captured 14 No. 1 Qualifier awards, the most in Pro Stock.
 
Captured five wins thus far in 2009 in Atlanta, Bristol, Seattle, Charlotte and the latest in Richmond.
 
Has qualified in the top five positions in all 22 NHRA events in 2009, with four times earning the No. 2 spot, and three times in the No. 4 position to go with his 14 poles and a single No. 5 qualifying effort.
 
Recorded his 20th career victory in Richmond, and has reached 40 finals over his career.
Mike Edwards has grabbed either low e.t. or top speed at 19 of the 21 events in 2009. He scored both the low e.t. and top speed of the event at seven races (Gainesville, Bristol, Topeka, Chicago, Englishtown, Denver, Seattle, Brainerd, Indianapolis, Charlotte, and Dallas), and has left with low e.t. three other events (Phoenix, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Richmond), while garnering top speed at four others (Houston, Atlanta, Norwalk, and Reading).

Story on Edwards Championship Run Graces Pages and Website of USA Today

With his first NHRA Pro Stock championship within his grasp, the nationally-distributed USA Today newspaper has a feature on Mike Edwards and the uphill battle he has faced to reach this pinnacle point of his career.

Below is a link to the story on the USA Today website.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/motor/nhra/2009-10-27-edwards-title_N.htm

The Dream is Coming True

Break out the engraving tool and write the check, Mike Edwards has done everything a Pro Stock driver can do in what he rightly characterizes as close as he has ever been “to living our dream”. Waiting at the end of the rainbow is a mighty fine trophy and a check for $250,000.

Edwards looked straight ahead and said, “Can you believe it?

“It is a near perfect day. It's unbelievable what I did here today; what my team did here today.”

Forever humble, Edwards smiles when he hears the accomplishments read off, but when asked the questions his humble nature quickly takes over.

“I am the same old redneck I will always be. I am going to enjoy it while I can.”

Facing his toughest competition head on, Edwards grabbed every possible point available, 150, including 20 for setting a new national record, as he stormed to his fifth win of the season, this one the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.

Greg Anderson is 128 points behind Edwards. Edwards earned 42 of those points in qualifying, collecting all but six of the possible maximum of 48 over four events. Edwards could clinch the title in Las Vegas in three weeks.

“I'm thinking it,” said Edwards when asked about the title, “but I don't have it yet. It's close. You still have to stay focused. I know those two Summit cars will be burning the midnight oil. I am not going to count my chickens before they hatch.”

His competition is clearly resigned to the inevitable. Jason Line predicated Edwards could have run a .49 in the second round and he nearly did.

“I should have,” agreed Edwards. “I just went a little bit left and missed it. I thought I could. I thought I could.”

That is the story of the year for Edwards. Finding the goals, meeting them and then moving to even higher goals. It is the culmination of a year of really hard work by both the driver and the team.

“It's pretty phenomenal,” Edwards finally admitted. “It's hard to describe how it feels. It's just a bunch of good old drag racers working really hard and getting a big payday, no a pay year. We've run good all year. We should have won more races. It just feel's so good to do this at the end of the season and hopefully in two more races I can close the deal.”

Edwards On Top Again

With each passing run the pacing got quicker, the tension stronger and the times quicker and quicker and quicker. The final round of Pro Stock qualifying for the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park was turning into a real nail-biter and Mike Edwards had the last set of fingernails in the session.

“What a scary qualifying session for Pro Stock when you pull up there and guys are making their career runs,” said Edwards, after proving for the 14th time this season that he has the car to beat. “It's the last session and it gets nerve wracking. We were low going into the round with a 58 and I bet that's not even the top half now.”

In fact, Edwards was right. A 58 would not have gotten you into the top half of the 16-car field as driver after driver set a career best elapsed time. Edwards run, the last of the session with Jason Line in the opposite lane, was a mind numbing 6.531 seconds, 211.26 miles per hour, best of the weekend in both categories. Line ran a disappointing 6.556, 211.10 mph.

Come Sunday, Edwards will be looking to not only go rounds, but to also use the 6.531 as the back up to a national record. Edwards can claim the national record with a run of 6.527 or quicker. It could happen.

“Tomorrow the conditions could possibly be a little better,” explained Edwards. “If it dries up, these cars are aspirated and they really get spunky when the air gets good. They make a lot more power. Conditions tomorrow will be the key.”

Edwards collected all 12 bonus qualifying points, having led every session. Edwards now leads Greg Anderson by 86 points and Jason Line by 89, with the potential to gather a full 150 points for the entire weekend. 

Richmond Crucial Crossroads In Championship Run 
A victory at fourth race of the Countdown to One will go long way toward Pro Stock title

Over the course of the first three stops in the Countdown to One, Mike Edwards has carted off a victory and two semifinals finishes to build a 78-point lead in the championship race.
 

With the tour swinging to the East Coast and Virginia Motorsports Park, outside Richmond, Va., Edwards knows he needs to continue going late rounds, but feels that the only way to make sure the championship comes back to Oklahoma, is he needs to collect the victory Wally.

"We've had a great race car for the first three events, but only have one trophy to show for that," Edwards reflected. "We've had our problems in the semifinals the last two stops and we just need to get over that hump, because the only way to make sure nobody can chase you down is winning. We do not want to leave anything to chance and rest our hopes on other people."

The Richmond stop is an intriguing one on the tour for Edwards. In the past, it seemingly is one of the fastest Pro Stock tracks on the tour.

"If the conditions are right, Virginia Motorsports Park will let the Pro Stock field light up the scoreboard with some big numbers," Edwards said. "Going in we know the entire field will be able to make good runs at any moment, so we have to make every time we let out the clutch count and try to be near the top."

Edwards has a solid record at the facility over his career, advancing past the first round five of the six visits, and reaching the final in 1996 and the semis in 2007.

"If we make good runs and I do my job on the starting line, we have a good chance of collecting another Wally and helping our cause," he said. "We just have to stay focused on the task at hand and if the good Lord is willing, we will have a great weekend."

 

Edwards Knows A Memphis Repeat Would Help Championship Cause

Early in the season, Mike Edwards and the Young Life/A.R.T. team pulled into the Atlanta event as the defending champions and went out and picked up their first victory of the season. Now, Edwards and the gang hope the same holds true in Memphis for the O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals, where Edwards is the defending champion.

"That was just an awesome feeling in Atlanta, being able to come in as the defending champion and be able to walk away with the Wally," Edwards said. "That is our plan in Memphis, and the bonus is, if we leave again with the hardware, it will only strengthen our chance at the ultimate prize - the NHRA Pro Stock championship.

"In 2008, Edwards claimed the top prize by defeating Jason Line in the final and marked the second time he had earned the Wally in Memphis.

"Early in my career, I thought many times of why I even made the trip to Memphis, because we never had any luck, and then it just turned around and it has become one of my favorite facilities on the tour," said Edwards, who did not qualify at the first three events he attended in Memphis, but has two victories and three semifinal finishes in the eight trips since. "Now I can't wait to get there because it is one of those places I love to race at and just enjoy everything about it.

"Currently, Edwards leads the NHRA Countdown to 1 Pro Stock playoff by 65 points over Jeg Coughlin with four races remaining. That calculates to a little better than a three round lead with a total of 16 rounds of competition left, plus qualifying points.

"You can never be comfortable with the likes of Jeg Coughlin, Jason Line, and Greg Anderson chasing you," Edwards admitted. "They have all been champions and understand what it takes in preparation with the car and mentally as a driver to stand-up to the pressure. We are trying our best to keep the focus in the right direction and just make solid runs and let that carry us forward.

"Memphis is a big race in the Countdown because when we leave, it will mark the halfway point and will give us a good understanding of where we stand and what we need to do at the final three stops to maybe, if God is willing, win the championship."

For First Time In Pro Stock Career, Edwards Sits Atop The NHRA Points Standings

After his victory at the NHRA Carolinas Nationals, Mike Edwards claimed the top spot in the standings, a position he has never held in the 14 years he has been competing in Pro Stock. Then, by reaching the semifinals in Dallas, Edwards continued to hold the spot for a second event, something he is proud of.
 
"I have been doing this for so long, it is just rewarding to me to finally see my name at the top of the points," he said. "I know the season is not over and we have a long way to go for the championship, but I am enjoying these moments because it is what every single person out here competing from Top Fuel down through the sportsman catergories is racing to achieve. It feels good." 
 
In 1981, Edwards did find out what it felt like to be on top at the end of the season when he was crowned the NHRA Modified champion. "That was so long ago, you almost forget what it felt like, but I have always had those moments tucked away and they have kept me working harder and harder to try and get back to that same spot. We are close, but still have what seems like an eternity to go." 

EDWARDS GUNNING FOR TRIFECTA
Written by Stan Creekmore

If Mike Edwards were a horse, which some in the Pro Stock division would claim he is, then he would have returned the best possible payoff during two rounds of qualifying for the O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals.

If a driver makes a qualifying attempt, leads all four rounds of qualifying, and posts the quickest overall lap, a qualifying trifecta, the payout is a handsome 30 points. The best a fellow competitor could do would be 25 points. That would be the best mind you. Jason Line, second quickest after two days of qualifying scored 21 points. Jeg Coughlin, third quickest overall, also scored 21 points.

“A point is a point,” agreed Edwards. “If you gain a point, that’s one more in your total. It’s good right now because we are getting the points. But one round can change it all. It’s a battle and will be one until the end.  That’s what Pro Stock is all about.”

With just five races remaining in the Countdown to 1, Edwards is looking to leave even the smallest scrap on the table.

“I’m out here trying to win every round,” Edwards said. “Every point you get is important. You try to win all you can but if we could win this race, it would be huge. There’s 15 other guys trying to do the same thing, too. I think we are capable, so we’ll have to come out here in the morning and see what happens.”

As track temperatures soared more than 20 degrees over the course of the afternoon, and close to 30 more than the surface temps Friday night, Edwards displayed the strength of his crew.

“My guys really made some good judgments on this last run,” said Edwards. “We had a 122 (degree) track temp and made a phenomenal run. It moved around just a little. It was really nice and hopefully we can make good decisions tomorrow. I’m happy with my team, the car and our performance. But, tomorrow is a new day and we’ll see what happens.”  

Edwards Writes Perfect Charlotte Script With Victory To Grab Points LeadGrabs Pole, Sets Top Speed And E.T. In Dominanent Performance

If you would have told Mike Edwards that during the first race of the Countdown to One NHRA Playoff, he would earn 10 of the possible 12 bonus points in qualifying, grab the No. 1 qualifying spot, setting low e.t. and top speed, have the field covered by more than three-hundredths each round of elimination, score his fourth victory of the season, and to top it off leave with the points lead, he would have called you crazy.

That script is exactly what Edwards and the Young Life/A.R.T. Pontiac team wrote at the NHRA Carolinas Nationals in Charlotte, N.C., as they captured the first event of the six-race playoff.

Edwards's dominance of the Pro Stock contingent was most evident in the final against Indy runner-up Greg Stanfield. Edwards left first by .013-second and outran Stanfield by nearly four-hundredths. The end result was not only his fourth win this year and 19th of his career, but also the biggest points lead in any category.

"My car was flawless. It went up and down the track every time. It was a great weekend and a great start for this Countdown," said Edwards, who is the points leader for the first time in his career and is the 25th driver to lead in Pro Stock.

"You'll never know how hard I've worked and how much I've wanted this. I know it's a long way from being over, but it means a lot now. I've been the weak link; I've said that many times this year. When you qualify No. 1 11 times and only have four wins you know who to point the finger at. I'm 52 years old, and these guys are young and fast. Hopefully, we can keep this thing on a roll."

With his defeat of Stanfield in the final round, Edwards was able to make the most of the first round exit of Jeg Coughlin and a second frame defeat of Jason Line to jump to a 56-point lead over Coughlin and 62 ahead of Line and Stanfield who are tied for third.

"Jeg Coughlin has that No. 1 on the window for a reason," Edwards said. "That's a talented team and a talented driver. Jason is the same and has carried that No. 1 as well. We're battling every round and every run. The new points system, a few points here and there, might win this thing."

The second stop of the playoffs is the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, just outside of Dallas this weekend.

"After a win, you just want to keep going and hope that momentum stays with you for another couple races."

EDWARDS CATCHES HIM

He did it.

On one weekend in Concord, NC, Pro Stock racer Mike Edwards did what he couldn’t do in six months of the regular season. The veteran Pro Stock racer caught and passed Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the Full Throttle Championship Drag Racing Series point standings.

Save for one qualifying session, Edwards completely dominated the Pro Stock division from qualifying No. 1 to establishing low elapsed time and top speed on race day with a 6.594 at 209.52 mph.

He defeated an upset-minded Greg Stanfield in the final round and made the most of a first round exit by Jeg Coughlin Jr.

As excited as the cartoon character Wiley E. Coyote would be if he was able to catch the elusive Road Runner, Edwards isn’t about to celebrate his victory.

“Jeg Coughlin has that No. 1 on the window for a reason,” Edwards said. “That’s a talented team and a talented driver. We’re battling every round and every run. The new points system, a few points here and there, might win this thing.”

How dominant was Edwards? If he would have secured a new national record, his performance would have collected 128 of the maximum 130 points available at an event.

The dominant victory marked his second since winning the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle back in July. Concord marked his fourth 2009 victory in nine final rounds.

With the win, Edwards expanded to 25 an elusive club of drivers who have led the NHRA Pro Stock points since the inception of the class in 1971.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Edwards said of the win. “It’s hard to leave on Greg Stanfield. I told him at the finish line that I must had the caution lights come on my side before they did on his.

“This was a phenomenal weekend and the car was flawless.”

So flawless for Edwards that he left the post race press conference to supervise a tear down of his engine by the NHRA tech department.

Catching Up, Edwards Style

Throughout the regular season in the Full Throttle Pro Stock championship battle, Mike Edwards was faced with very few opportunities to make up ground on rival Jeg Coughlin Jr. Now that the NHRA offers bonus points in qualifying, Edwards’ strength, he’s making the most of the opportunity.

In addition to snagging six points over Coughlin in standard qualifying, he gained an additional ten points on the strength of being the quickest in three of the four qualifying sessions. The one session that he didn’t pace, he was third, for one additional point.

“It can actually determine the outcome of the championship,” said Edwards of the extra points he earned. “I’m a big fan of this new points system, I can tell you that from qualifying.”

The bonus points are added incentive for Edwards.

“Anytime you can pick up some points before race day it’s pivotal,” he added. “The points we picked up today were almost as big as a round win. This program is going to spice up this championship for sure.”

The combination of losing key races during the regular season and the ability to bridge the points gap between himself and Coughlin provides enough inspiration for him to turn up the tuning wick more often than not.

“I just think every qualifying session is so important now and now there are no more throw-a-way rounds,” Edwards said. “It’s just like the first round because you’re up there racing the track but you are also up there racing against the other teams trying to get the points. There are 18-20 cars trying to do the same thing you did.”

But, clearly not as quick as Edwards is.

NHRA Playoffs Begins With New Focus, Edwards Start Title Chase

For nearly eight months and 18 events, every NHRA Pro team has been working to be part of the Countdown to One NHRA playoff style event that kicks off with the NHRA Carolinas Nationals. For Mike Edwards, his spot in the playoffs was secured a few events back, giving the team a chance to make sure all focus is on the big prize, the NHRA Pro Stock championship.
 
"Things have not gone perfect for us as a team since we clinched our spot; meaning we haven't picked up any more Wallys," Edwards admitted. "Most of that has fallen to one area, and now that one area, me, has to pick up his game to make this happen."
 
The Young Life/A.R.T. Pontiac has been basically flawless on the quarter-mile, grapping the pole at the last three events, but come eliminations, the usually solid Edwards has not been himself on the starting line. "I've been up there thinking too much. I just need to drive the car and the rest will take care of itself."
 
With his focus corrected, Edwards believes the only thing standing in his way for the championship might be himself. "I know what I need to do and a few of my friends have helped clean up some of the areas I was struggling with. This minor correction will be a positive for us the next six races."
 
With the points adjusted for the Countdown to One, Edwards sits in the third spot, trailing points leader Jeg Coughlin by 30 points and Jason Line by a mere 10 points.
 
"If we can come out these next six races and just improve slightly on what we did the same six races in 2008, I know we can reach that ultimate goal," said Edwards, who last season, garnered the second most points during the stretch and captured the Memphis title. "The entire team is focused and ready to go out and do all we can to win the championship."

Contemporary Corvette Continues Partnership With Edwards

Contemporary Corvette will continue its relationship with Mike Edwards' Pontiac for this weekends event, the NHRA Carolina Nationals at ZMax Dragway in Concord, N.C. The partnership, which started in Reading, has been extended to the first race in the NHRA Countdown to 1 playoff, in an effort by owner Ron DeSmedt to help further the team's chance at a championship.

"What a group to be with," Edwards said. "They joined us in Reading and the relationship has really blossomed and has been beneficial to both sides. It just adds to everything we already have with this team."
The company's name and website will adorn the front hood of the red Pontiac GXP of Edwards, while the 1-800-FOR-VETTE-PARTS will be on the hood scoop this weekend.

Located in Bristol, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia, Contemporary Corvette opened its doors for business in 1990 with three Corvettes and a half-acre called "the Field of Broken Dreams." Now, after tremendous success, the company has expanded to four acres to house the nearly 450 Corvettes that occupy the grounds. The company features an all-inclusive website contemporarycorvette.com, where customers can find nearly any part for a Corvette, or 1-800-FOR-VETTE-PARTS to speak with them over the phone.
Edwards Help CompetitionPlus.com Celebrate
10th Anniversary Of Racing Coverage


For the NHRA Carolinas Nationals, Mike Edwards will carry the competitionplus.com decal on the front fender of his Pontiac to help the website celebrate its 10th year of covering the quarter-mile.

"Bobby Bennett and his entire group at Competitionplus.com have been a huge supporter of what we are trying to accomplish with this race team and we thought this would be a great way of showing that respect," Edwards said.
 
The website, which focuses on all angles of drag racing, has become one of the major online players in the quarter-mile arena with its hard-hitting reporting, event coverage, and a one stop source for everything drag racing.

Reaching Out To Young Life Kids, Not
Championship Chase, Edwards' Biggest Priority
As Posted on NHRA.com, September 12, 2009

On Thursday nights at many NHRA events, you will catch Professional teams out seeing the city, handling corporate commitments, relaxing before the stress of the race weekend, or traveling to the event. Those activities are the furthest things from the minds of Mike Edwards and his Young Life/ART crew. Before each event, Edwards and his team begin the weekend in a bit different manner.

For the last nine years, Edwards has hosted the Giving Kids Hope program at the track for urban Young Life kids. These kids come from socially and economically challenged backgrounds, and Edwards and his team try to give them hope for the future.

"This is what this team is all about, reaching out to these kids and hopefully making a difference," Edwards said. "To me, all the awards and accolades we receive on the racetrack the rest of the weekend pale in comparison to what we are trying to accomplish through this program. If we can turn the life of just one kid around who sees us on a given weekend, we have done what we set out to do nearly a decade ago."

The kids, who are from local Young Life groups, come to the track and Edwards' pit area, where they enjoy food, tours of the trailer and car, and several acitvities with a racing theme. Edwards closes the evening by telling the kids how God has changed his life and encourages them to consider making that same choice. He also shares the role that God has played in his racing career and lets each kid know that many people care about them and that God will always be there for them.

"It is a great feeling when you stand in front of these kids and see the future in their eyes," Edwards said. "You hope what you say to them will help them realize they can have a more fulfilling life if they only allow God to be a part of it."

Since the program's inception in 2000, Edwards has hosted thousands of kids, many of whom have returned to see Edwards and allowed him to see the fruits of his labor.

"The best part is when a kid comes out to the track, tells you that they came to one of your programs a few years ago, and lets you know that you were able to make them feel special that evening," Edwards reflected. "When Roger and Ann Stull created this race team, the goal was not to just win events on the track, but it was to capture the hearts of the kids and help them find God and to have a better future.

"To us, Thursday night means more than what happends on Sunday," he continued. "In the big picture, what happens on race day will come and go, but an impact you can make on the life of a kid will last forever. That is why we do it."

Armed and Ready

How ready does Mike Edwards want to be when Monday’s NHRA U.S. Nationals final eliminations roll around? The ten-time pole-earning driver in 2009 dispatched a crew from his Charlotte, N.C.-based shop to bring him the same engine he used to win the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle last July.

Edwards wounded an engine during Friday’s lone qualifying session en route to a 6.581 elapsed time at 209.01. The strength of the pass kept him atop the field long enough to procure his tenth pole position of the season and first-ever in Indianapolis.

The engine swap was the furthest thing on his mind Sunday afternoon.

“I think I might have to pinch myself in qualifying No. 1,” said Edwards. “This is real special and ranks high up there on the list of things I’ve done.”

Edwards has won Pro Stock once at the U.S. Nationals, securing the 1998 crown in honor of fallen team owner John Kite and was a runner-up for the 1981 Modified title.

Sunday marked his first No. 1 and on Monday he’d like to add his first clean sweep to the resume. That’s why he sent for the extra bullet. Because of the competitive nature of this class, Edwards knows he might not get a second chance at a clean sweep.

“We’ve got everything in place to give it all we’ve got,” Edwards explained. “I just really appreciate my guys for putting me in this position. I give God the glory for this opportunity.”

Edwards could have raced with the inventory he’s got in the hauler now, but with this much on the line, he’s not in a gambling mood.

“You never know what is going to happen,” Edwards cautioned. “We have several engines and we always like to keep one back at the shop for the dyno. We have to have a good one back home to run new parts and try and find a way to keep an edge on the competition.”

The engine demands go beyond Edwards’ own personal needs. He’s also the engine supplier for Ron Krisher, the seventh qualifier for Monday’s final eliminations. There’s a good chance the engine delivered last evening could end up in Krisher’s car.

“We sent for the new engine not because we were concerned about performance because all of our engines are good in the trailer, it’s just about ensuring that we are covered,” Edward said. “You have to make sure you have enough bullets to keep your guns-a-blazing.”

Everyone Always Remembers Who Wins U.S. Nationals

With Spot Secure In NHRA Playoff, Edwards Only Focus Is On Collecting Hardware

That the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is the center-piece of the NHRA schedule ramps up the excitement of the event that much more. It holds so much history, from its early days in the 1950s and 60s, to today's version, the 55th annual trek to the NHRA showcase event. With all the spotlights on the tour stop at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, Mike Edwards knows this is truly the event you want to shine.
 
"So much emphasis has always been put on this one race," he said. "When I was lucky enough to win the event in 1998 (see below for a flashback to that victory), it brought so much to my team that it is hard to describe. To the world of drag racing, the U.S. Nationals is like the Super Bowl, or in other forms of racing the Daytona 500 or Indy 500, it just has a little bit more meaning than the other 23 races."
 
To try and capitalize on the importance, Edwards and the Young Life/A.R.T. Pontiac team have been going non-stop since they lost early in Reading. "We came back to the shop, kind of took an inventory of where we were at and what we needed to accomplish and went to work, making sure everything was fresh and we had no issues," he added. "Then we have spent quite a few days at the local track in Tulsa making laps trying to find that extra little advantage that might get us into the winner's circle come Monday."
 
As much of the focus in on the biggest prize in drag racing, Edwards continues to look at the bigger picture, the NHRA championship. With a spot already secure in the NHRA playoff, Edwards can focus on one thing at the U.S. Nationals, and that is winning.
 
"That we are in the playoffs that start at the next race in Charlotte, we don't have that added pressure of trying to make that field. We can swing for the fences at Indy and go for broke, because we know come the next race, the field will be leveled and then the pressure will truly begin to mount as we try and win a championship.
 
"It would sure be nice heading into the playoffs with the Indy trophy sitting nicely on my mantel at home

Flashback: 1998 U.S. Nationals Pro Stock victory

Below is a flashback to the 1998 U.S. Nationals when Mike Edwards wheeled his way to his lone victory at the famed event.
 
Just more than eight months after the death of team owner John Kight, Mike Edwards fulfilled a goal of the pair when he drove the JK Racing Pontiac to the 1998 U.S. Nationals Pro Stock crown, ending a six-year reign of the Johnson family.
 
Edwards said about the victory at that time, "It's unfortunate that John, who meant the world to me, as much as my father, is not here to enjoy this feeling. This is the one race when we put this deal together, we wanted to win. I wouldn't have been surprised if a big rainbow broke out over the grandstands from him smiling over us reaching our goal. All I can say is this win is for my personal hero, John Kight."
 
When Kight died in January 1998, Edwards thought that the dream of standing in the winner's circle in front of Parks Tower would never come to fruition. But Kight's wife, Mary Lou, didn't allow that to end because she knew it was something here husband wanted desperately.
 
By keeping the team together, the pinnacle in drag racing was reached when he beat the likes of Jim Yates and Kurt Johnson before besting Warren Johnson in the final.
 
Now more than a decade past that emotional time, Edwards still calls the event the highlight of his career. "I don't believe there will ever be a time I'm happier and more grateful for anything. That truly was a crowning moment in not only my racing career, but in my growth as a human being."

Quick Notes

Has advanced to the final at nine events in 2009, the most in Pro Stock.
 
In 2009, has captured nine No. 1 Qualifier awards, the most in Pro Stock.
 
Captured three wins thus far in 2009 in Atlanta, Bristol and the latest in Seattle.
 
Has qualified in the top five positions in all 17 NHRA events in 2009, with four times earning the No. 2 spot, and three times in the No. 4 position to go with his nine poles and a single No. 5 qualifying effort.

Recorded his 18th career victory in Seattle.

Currently third in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock point standings, only trailing points  leader Jeg Coughlin and Jason Line, with Indianapolis the final event to earn points toward the NHRA playoffs.

Mike Edwards has grabbed either low e.t. or top speed at 14 of the 17 events in 2009. He scored both the low e.t. and top speed of the event at seven races (Gainesville, Bristol, Topeka, Chicago, Englishtown, Denver, Seattle, and Brainerd), and has left with low e.t. two other events (Phoenix and Las Vegas), while garnering top speed at four others (Houston, Atlanta, Norwalk, and Reading).


Edwards Inks Contemporary Corvette As Associate Sponsor For U.S. Nationals

Mike Edwards Racing has added Contemporary Corvette.com as an associate sponsor to the Young Life/A.R.T. Pontiac Pro Stock for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. The newest marketing partner with Edwards will actively support and help promote the race team as part of the strategic partnership in respect to particular goals during the events at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The company was also on the car for the NHRA stop in Reading.

"We are very fortunate to have a company like Contemporary Corvette come on board and help us at this most crucial stage of the season," Edwards said. "We will do everything we can to make this partnership stronger and more valuable for them as we do with all of our marketing partners. By adding support to our team, it only helps us elevate our entire business model at all levels in promoting Mike Edwards Motorsports' team message."

Located in Bristol, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia, owner Ron DeSmedt opened his doors for business in 1990 with three Corvettes and a half-acre of what he calls "the Field of Broken Dreams." Now, after tremendous success, he has expanded to four acres to house the nearly 450 Corvettes that occupy the grounds. The company features an all-inclusive website contemporarycorvette.com, where customers can find nearly any part for a Corvette, or 1-800-FOR-VETTE-PARTS to speak with the Contemporary Corvette directly.

In addition to the extensive yard of salvaged Corvettes, the company also has several warehouses full of engines, transmissions, suspension parts and electrical oddities. Most of the products Contemporary Corvette sells are previously owned, but also sells many new parts still in original wrappings, such as chrome trim, emblems and taillight lenses.

Some of the salvages items include instruments, glass, steering columns and wheels, seats, wiper motors, A-frames, speakers, door panels, gas tanks, bumpers, moldings, half-shafts, rims and tires, and just about anything else, including Dana rears and complete rolling frames. Whichever part you would find in a Corvette can be purchased at Contemporary Corvette.

The company's name and website will adorn the front hood of the red Pontiac GXP of Edwards, while the 1-800-FOR-VETTE-PARTS will be on the hood scoop this weekend at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

Edwards Close To Top With Two Stops Left
Reading pivotal in points chase hopes and stretch run

With just two events remaining in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series before the "Countdown to 1" playoffs begin for the final six races, Mike Edwards knows how important these stops are in his quest to steal his second place spot back and hopefully the Pro Stock points lead before the tour hits Charlotte.

Edwards is just 34 points behind leader Jeg Coughlin and a mere seven points back of Jason Line for second. An early exit by Coughlin and a victory at this weekend's 25th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway could place Edwards on top for the first time in his career, and put him in position to earn the 20 bonus points given to the points leader when the tour leaves Indianapolis Labor Day weekend.

For Edwards and his Young Life/A.R.T. Pontiac-backed team, they have reached the most finals in Pro Stock in 2009 with nine (Line has made eight finals, while Coughlin seven), and has had his share of good fortune in Reading, with a pair of runners-up in 1998 and 2002. But none of that has turned into a victory and a trip to the coveted winner's circle. This weekend all thoughts are set on changing that statistic.

"We're still fighting as hard as we ever in this class of reaching the top," Edwards said. "We have been trying to get our edge back and have been testing real hard in achieving that. We had a good showing in Brainerd, but not exactly what we were hoping for only reaching the semifinals. For the rest of the season, our goal is reaching the final at every event and hope that leads us to a championship.
 
Reading is such a pivotal race according to Edwards, being the last stop prior to the U.S. Nationals, which is everybody's last chance. "Maple Grove has created a lot of excitement over the years and we have come close a few times, but never able to grab the trophy there. I know every single member of this team is focused on performing at our best in Reading.

"In the past, you could always throw your best at the Maple Grove track and it usually would stick," he added, referring to the performance potential. "If God is willing, I hope this is the start of some great runs for this team that will include a victory and maybe start us down a path to the ultimate prize at the end of the season. All I know is I'm looking forward to it!"
Quick Notes
Has advanced to the final at nine events in 2009, the most in Pro Stock.
 
In 2009, has captured eight No. 1 Qualifier awards, the most in Pro Stock.
 
Captured three wins thus far in 2009 in Atlanta, Bristol and the latest in Seattle.
 
Has qualified in the top five positions in all 16 NHRA events in 2009, with four times earning the No. 2 spot, and three times in the No. 4 position to go with his eight poles and a single No. 5 qualifying effort.

Recorded his 18th career victory in Seattle.

Currently third in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock point standings, only 34 points behind leader Jeg Coughlin and seven points in rear of Jason Line.

Mike Edwards has grabbed either low e.t. or top speed at 13 of the first 16 events. He scored both the low e.t. and top speed of the event at seven races (Gainesville, Bristol, Topeka, Chicago, Englishtown, Denver, Seattle, and Brainerd), and has left with low e.t. two other events (Phoenix and Las Vegas), while garnering top speed at three others (Houston, Atlanta, and Norwalk).

 

EDWARDS MAINTAINS BRAINERD TOUGHNESS

Written by Stan Creekmore   
Sunday, 16 August 2009

 


If you're looking for tough, you don't have to look much further than to Mike Edwards.  After watching driver after driver click off lower and lower et's, Edwards turned up the wick on his ART/Young Life Pontiac GXP to keep his place on the top of the ladder in the Pro Stock division during final qualifying for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Int'l Raceway.

Greg Anderson, second quickest at 6.708, 204.91, predicted from the top end that Edwards was going to knock him from the top spot.

“I am scared to watch Mike Edwards come down the track,” said Anderson after making the fastest run of the weekend. Edwards quickly proved Anderson's fear was legitimate with a near perfect 6.694, 205.39 mph lap.

“We came out and made a nice run this morning,” said Edwards, adding, “We felt like we might have left a little bit out there on the starting line. It didn’t go nice and straight but other than that it was a nice. We were fortunate enough to hold off the rest of the pack because they were all getting real close. I don’t know if we could have held on if we had gotten the last session. But anyways it is us and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. The conditions will be a lot different, so we will just have to race the track and see what we can do.”

If Edwards left anything on the line it was in the thousandths of a second. But, was the run all that he wanted?

“For me I always feel like you should shoot for the most you can ever get. On that run we were just favored a little bit to the left side; we were kind of crooked, and anytime you’re crooked it’s going to be slower. Straight is the fastest way down this track and when you wiggle a little bit and move to the left it knocks a bit of time off. I think we could have run a 68 at the best, so we’re happy.”

On the pole, best et and speed of the weekend and Edwards, despite his humble manner was talking about leaving a hundredth of a second on the table. That is exactly how tough the Pro Stock division has become this year. So tough that being as close to perfect as possible is the only way to be the last man standing.

“You really do, this class is just so competitive,” said Edwards when asked if perfection was what it took to compete. “You have to be almost perfect in every aspect of the game; the car, the driver and the team. You have to be that good because there are that many good cars in this class. All 16 drivers are great and you have to be almost perfect to win.”

As for that hundredth of a second left on the table, can Edwards really feel the difference in a 69 and a 68?

“No, I can’t so much feel it as I just know when I’m just not going straight. You might have felt like you missed the shift a little bit and once it’s going left, it’s gone left. All of that adds up and you’re talking thousandth of a second and we feel like we left that out there today.”

With qualifying over, Edwards knows that anyone leaving anything on the table tomorrow in eliminations is packing up early, even if it is only a few thousandths of a second. 

ALL REFRESHED AND READY TO GO

Mike Edwards almost appeared to have a measure of guilt in admitting he took some time away from the daily grind known as Pro Stock on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. The veteran driver from Broken Arrow, Ok., has been racing at breakneck speed lately, and though he ranks second in the championship points, one would think he’s out front trying to fend off the competition.

“We took a day or two away … maybe a half-day,” said Edwards with a smile. “It’s 24/7 in this class … it’s a tough class. It’s competitive and there are a lot of good cars in this class. The top runners in this class aren’t letting up. You can’t open a door for them or they’ll slam it shut on you.”

Edwards drove his way to the top of Pro Stock during the first two qualifying sessions of the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., carding a 6.732 elapsed time at 204.60. Though his run wasn’t close to a record, it was just enough to pull .009 ahead of No. 2 runner Allen Johnson.

Those two weeks off from competition worked well as a physical recharge for Edwards, but did even more for what has proven to be a platoon of potent 500-inch powerplants.

“We needed those two weeks to get our engines back home,” Edwards said.

Those two weeks off enabled Edwards’ team to tear the engines down and restock with new parts. A little massaging hit the spot as well.

“We were gone three weeks plus we had a week in Denver testing,” Edwards said. “The time off was good to get things freshened back up. We still had time to get some testing time in.”

The odds may not favor Edwards catching current leader Jeg Coughlin Jr., for the point lead headed into the Countdown but that serves as motivation for the former NHRA sportsman world champion. He’s out to reach the finish line first every time he dumps the clutch.

“We are just trying to win every race we enter and take it round to round, it’s all bottled down after Indy,” Edwards said. “We’re just going to see what happens.”

Edwards didn’t pout because the first day of qualifying for the sixteenth of 24-scheduled national events didn’t go exactly as planned. Even on a bad day, his best is generally enough to lead the pack.

“We just missed it on both runs but I believe tomorrow is supposed to be a little cooler,” Edwards explained. “You can probably take today and throw it out the window. We made a better run in our first qualifying attempt than we did in the second because we made a few adjustments. I thought they would be a little better but they were just a bit worse.”

According to Weather.com, Saturday’s temperatures are forecast to be in the high 70-degree range with scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. Friday was in the low 90 degree range.

That kind of a substantial temperature drop, Edwards believes, will make a difference in Saturday’s final pair of sessions.

“Any time you can get cooler temperatures for these naturally aspirated engines, they like that,” Edwards said. “We’re just going to hope for the best.”

Brainerd Not The Kindest Of Stops On The NHRA Tour
Trip to Minnesota facility has not been kind to Edwards over his racing career

In the world of drag racing, one would think that it would not matter what track you are at competing because almost all facets are the same. All the races are started by a Tree, each course is exactly 1320 feet long, and have a left and right lane. All those are a constant, so one would assume that if a driver performs well at one track it should be obvious they will do just as well at another.

In the real world of drag racing, that assumption is the furthest thing from the truth. And that is the case for Mike Edwards and the annual journey to Brainerd Int'l Raceway. The Young Life/A.R.T.-backed driver has made the trip to the state of 10,000 lakes on 10 different occasions and has only enjoyed getting out of the first round on three of those trips, with the semifinal finish in 2001 his best outing.

"It is the oddest thing that I just haven't found that sweet spot with Brainerd and how we run our race car," Edwards admitted. "I love the area of upstate Minnesota, the fans are great, and we usually have recovered from the Western Swing grind, but something just doesn't click."

The odd twist, it must have to do with the Mississippi River. Of the 24 events and 22 racing facilities the NHRA tour visit, the three located along the Mississippi River have not always been kind. Though Edwards has won at St. Louis and does hold a career 14-6 winning mark at Memphis in year's past, when you combine those three tracks, they have been nine of Edwards' 45 DNQs.

"It is weird how where the Mississippi starts, it has not been pretty," he admitted. "Then it flows down to St. Louis and it has gotten better over the years, and then just a bit further, Memphis was dismal when I started my career and has turned around to be one of the events I enjoy attending. Maybe some of those good fortunes have flowed north this season."

But the 2009 has been a year of lifting some of the bad vibes at a few tracks. "Our plan is to make sure that part of the season continues of getting to finals and qualifying in the top group. I feel it will all start in Brainerd and carry over to Reading next weekend."

Two Weeks Off Gives Team Time To Recharge For Run

After the grueling Western Swing, that went from Denver to Seattle and down to Sonoma, Calif., Mike Edwards and the entire Young Life/A.R.T. squad took the two weeks between California and Brainerd to get their feet back under them and take some time away for the track.
 
"These two weeks have been a true blessing for us," Edwards admitted. "Losing in the first round in Sonoma kind of soured the Seattle victory, so it having that extra bit of time allowed us to get everything back in order, take a step away from stress at the track, and refocus for the stretch run. This little break came at a perfect time.
 
"It is not like the entire team went on a vacation to Hawaii or something. They were still in the shop every day working to find ways to improve our team. I am so blessed to have guys from the engine shop to everyone in Oklahoma, to Roger Stull, giving their blood and sweat to make us even that much better. I couldn't ask for a better crew than I have."
 
With only three races remaining in the Countdown to 1 championship battle that starts in Charlotte, Edwards and the team are looking at these events as ways to find tune the entire operation to make sure they will be in contention for the championship.
 
"We have earned the spot in the playoffs, and like any team, once you have secured that first step, you work on ways to make everything stronger because you do have that luxury of looking at the entire operation and making some adjustments, unlike when you are in the fight and are only focused on that first goal."

Quick Notes

Has advanced to the final at seven of the last 10 events.
 
In 2009, has captured seven No. 1 Qualifier awards, the most in Pro Stock.
 
Captured three wins thus far in 2009 in Atlanta, Bristol and the latest in Seattle.
 
Has qualified in the top five positions in all 15 NHRA events in 2009, with four times earning the No. 2 spot, and three times in the No. 4 position to go with his seven poles, and a single No. 5.
 
Recorded his 18th career victory in Seattle.
 
Currently second in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock point standings, only 60 points behind leader Jeg Coughlin.
 
Mike Edwards has grabbed either low e.t. or top speed at 12 of the first 15 events. He scored both the low e.t. and top speed of the event at seven races (Gainesville, Bristol, Topeka, Chicago, Englishtown, Denver, and Seattle), and has left with low e.t. two other events (Phoenix and Las Vegas), while garnering top speed at three others (Houston, Atlanta, and Norwalk).

Edwards Hopes Seattle Momentum Carries To Sonoma
Last stop on three-race Western Swing is pivotal in NHRA Pro Stock points battle

After being on the road for three weeks straight, many would look at the end of the trip as just an event to go through the motions and head home and get ready for the push toward the "Countdown to 1" championship playoff, but not for Mike Edwards and the Young Life/A.R.T.-backed team. The trip to Sonoma and the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway is a chance to grab a spot in Pro Stock the longtime campaigner has never held, the NHRA Pro Stock points lead.

"When you start the season, you just hope you come out and make a good showing for your fans and those who support you and only imagine having a chance to sit on top of the class," Edwards said. "That is something that is now within our reach. We are working flawless as a team and I feel real good after winning Seattle, so we are heading to the bay area with hopes of leaving with not only the NHRA Wally, but the points lead."

Edwards currently sits 20 points behind Jeg Coughlin for the lead, which translates into one round of competition. Thus, if Edwards qualifies better than Coughlin and goes a round further in competition, he will leave California with the lead.
 
Sonoma has been a solid stop for Edwards and the gang. They have reached the final in years past (2001), and great showing in qualifying runs including the No. 1 spot in 2008, so they know they can challenge for that goal.
 
"We are not going into Sonoma thinking, the we got one victory out west and that will be good enough to take back to Oklahoma, instead that has made us that much more hungry to get back in the winner's circle, and I cannot think of a better place than Sonoma."


Rewind: A Look Back To Edwards' Seattle Triumph

When Mike Edwards turned on the win light in the found round, downing Jason Line, who had got the best of the Young Life/Penhall team in the Pomona and Norwalk final, Mike knew he had another good day at the track.
 
"We've had three really good days all year," Edwards said of day which produced his eighth final round for 2009. "Anytime you win a race it's good. My guys have just prepared this car. Every time we came up to run the car was just flawless."
 
With the win, it was Edwards' 18th career NHRA Pro Stock national event title, and probably more importantly was done in a convincing fashion where he had the field cover by a couple hundredths each round, which in the world of Pro Stock is a mile
 
"This car is just a joy to drive and it does everything right," Edwards explained. "It's all because of those guys preparing it right. I feel like in the last four or five races I've let them down a bit."
 
Edwards is talking about not getting wins, but for the record, his term of not carrying the weight includes four final-round losses and a second round setback in Denver.
 
With the victory it moved Edwards to within 20 points of leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. for the Full Throttle Pro Stock points, which carries a bonus in the "Countdown to 1" that starts after the U.S. Nationals.


Quick Notes

Has advanced to the final at seven of the last nine events.

In 2009, has captured seven No. 1 Qualifier awards, the most in Pro Stock.

Captured three wins thus far in 2009 in Atlanta, Bristol and the latest in Seattle.

Has qualified in the top four positions in all 14 NHRA events in 2009, with four times earning the No. 2 spot, and three times in the No. 4 position to go with his seven poles.

Recorded his 18th career victory in Seattle.

Currently second in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock point standings, only 20 points behind leader Jeg Coughlin

Mike Edwards has grabbed either low e.t. or top speed at 12 of the first 14 events. He scored both the low e.t. and top speed of the event at seven races (Gainesville, Bristol, Topeka, Chicago, Englishtown, Denver, and Seattle), and has left with low e.t. two other events (Phoenix and Las Vegas), while garnering top speed at three others (Houston, Atlanta, and Norwalk).

The 4,600 miles the team will travel from the Coweta, Okla., shop and to NHRA stops in Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma, and returning home is basically the same distance as driving from Los Angeles to New York City and then back to Denver.

Edwards Scores Third Title Of Season

Runs string of 6.5s  to garner Seattle crown

For the third time this season, Mike Edwards has wheeled the Young Life/ART Pontiac GXP into an NHRA winner's circle. With a string of 6.5 elapsed times, Edwards earned the Seattle victory, which also marks the third win at the facility in his career.

"We knew this was coming, it was just we had to be patient and not let a few setbacks at the last couple events slow our progress," he said. "I can't speak enough at the job everyone on this team is doing. They have been flawless and I'm starting to come around on my end in the car."

Edwards started his run from the No. 2 spot and easily disposed of Ben Watson in the opening round 6.55. He followed that with a pair of 6.58s to down Greg Stanfield and engine customer Ron Krisher to reach his eighth final of the season. Waiting in the money round was Jason Line, who has defeated Edwards twice this year in the final. This time, Edwards didn't leave anything to chance as he left first and recorded a third straight 6.58 and a track record 211.03 blast to secure his third crown of the year.

With his victory, Edwards has moved to within 20 points of front runner Jeg Coughlin

EDWARDS SILENCES CRITICS AGAIN
Written by Bobby Bennett   
Monday, 20 July 2009

For at least one weekend, Mike Edwards won’t have to answer questions from the media about having the car to beat all weekend and losing in the final round, which suits the Oklahoma native just fine.

Edwards scored his eighteenth career NHRA Pro Stock national event title during the NHRA Northwest Nationals in convincing fashion by sweeping the event from qualifying to eliminations. His third win of the season came at the expense of Jason Line.

“We’ve had three really good days all year,” Edwards said of day which produced his eighth final round for 2009. “Anytime you win a race it’s good. My guys have just prepared this car. Every time we came up to run the car was just flawless.”

The victory moved Edwards to within 20 points of leader Jeg Coughlin Jr.

“This car is just a joy to drive and it does everything right,” Edwards explained. “It’s all because of those guys preparing it right. I feel like in the last four or five races I’ve let them down a bit.”

For the record, letting the crew down consists of four final round losses and a quarter-final finish. Those losses came against three different drivers, none of whom make the tuning decisions on their cars.

Not a bad record for a man who literally tunes and drives a Pro Stocker against a class of drivers who have more time to focus on driving the car only.

“Yeah, but I’ve done that throughout my career so I can’t really use that as an excuse,” Edwards contends. “I’ve run well this season and that’s a place I’m not used to being in throughout my career. I’ve never really been this fast and had that many No. 1 qualifiers.

“Greg Anderson told me it’s like having a big bullseye on your back and everyone’s shooting at you. It’s a mental game I am going through right now. I’m trying to work myself through it.”

Not having to answer those pesky media questions gives him a good start on working through it, too.  

EDWARDS TAKING THE HEAT ON AND OFF THE TRACK

Mike Edwards is taking the heat, literally.

Edwards, quickest after two rounds of Pro Stock qualifying at the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle says the only one who can turn the corner on wins is himself. He admits to not dealing as well as he could with the pressure of winning qualifying and then going still rounds. Still, he having the time of racing life.

"We're making awesome runs," Edwards said. "To open the race with a 6.60 on a track that was showing 130 degrees when we ran is something. Credit all the guys back in the pit because they're making it happen. It's a joy to run with them. When we started in Pro Stock back in '82 one or two people could put a car out there. Now it takes an army of guys and a big pile of money.

"This has been my best season ever. When we started in this new direction two years ago I thought we'd either sink or swim. Right now we're swimming. We're second overall and that's not bad. As soon as we get of the Western Swing we'll have a chance to try some things and try to get a little better before the Countdown starts."
So, despite his admission of being the weak link when it comes to winning, Edwards knows the most important time to win is not now, but when the countdown starts.

“Maybe, we'll start winning then,” said the Oklahoma native with a sly smile.

Team Begins Pivotal And Grueling Three Race Western Swing

Denver stop plays key role in push toward championship

For Mike Edwards and the rest of the team, the next three weekends could help them solidify their place atop the NHRA Pro Stock scene and build that much-needed momentum heading into the final six events before the playoff-style Countdown to One that closes out the year.
 
Though he has reached six consecutive finals, winning only one, Edwards knows the Western Swing through Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma, can be the difference in a championship run come September and October, or being just one of the other cars in the title hunt.
 
"Many years this grueling trek west has made or broke many championship runs," Edwards said. "It truly is the biggest test we have during the season because each of the three venues is so drastically different and the travel doesn't allow for any of us to return to our shops and prepare for the next event. Everything is just on the fly and you better be able to make the right calls and keep ahead of the curve or this trip will swallow you up."
 
The first stop on the 4,600-mile journey from the team's Oklahoma shop and back is Denver and Bandimere Speedway for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals. The biggest wrinkle with heading to the mountains, it will be the only time that Edwards will have to challenge the high-altitude, which equals less horsepower.
 
"Denver is such a unique race because it makes you change basically everything you do to attack the altitude and lack of air," he said. "These engines love oxygen, which you don't have very much of when you are on the mountain at Bandimere Speedway."
 
In the year's past, Edwards has had his share of luck on the mountain, including a victory in 2002. In 2008, all things seemed lined up for another title run. Edwards qualified in the No. 2 position, and the Pontiac GXP was working exactly as planned in qualifying, but a broken transmission dashed any hope in the first round.
 
"I have to say this is one of my favorite races on the tour though," Edwards admitted. "The setting of the facility is breathtaking and when it all comes down to it, the key is turning on the win light, so I accept the different parameters that are thrown at us and use them to strengthen the entire program. Trust me, we learn some things on the mountain that makes us even better at sea-level."
 
Heading into the event, Edwards sits second in the NHRA Pro Stock points, a mere 68 points behind leader Jeg Coughlin.
  

Quick Notes
During pre-event testing, Mike Edwards became the first Pro Stock driver to eclipse the six-second barrier at Bandimere Speedway with a 6.99 run.
 
With half of the 24-race season complete, Mike Edwards has compiled 28 round wins, which surpassed his prior career best of 26 wins in a season, which can in 2008.
 
The 4,600 miles the team will travel from the Coweta, Okla., shop and to NHRA stops in Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma, and returning home is basically the same distance as driving from Los Angeles to New York City and then back to Denver.

Edwards Takes Aim At Possible Double-up Norwalk Weekend

K&N Pro Stock Challenge - Saturday

With this weekend's stop at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, Mike Edwards has a chance to walk away with two titles when he competes in the K&N Pro Stock Challenge on Saturday and then follow with a run at the NHRA Wally on Sunday.

"This is a big weekend for everyone involved in Pro Stock," Edwards said. "With the Challenge, it puts the class on the front stage. It puts a bit more pressure on the event because you want to perform at your best in both arenas, without losing site on making good solid runs."

For the K&N Challenge, which pays $50,000 to the winner, Edwards qualified in the No. 2 position, which is based off qualifying positions since last year's event. "By earning the second slot, it is just a huge positive to what this entire team has accomplished," he added. "I can't be any more proud of the guys at the engine shop and the group on the road; it has truly been a team effort on all fronts, and you can't ask for much more than that."

Edwards will open against Warren Johnson, who will be making his 23rd start in the event which he won on three occasions, including 2002 when he defeated Edwards in the final. "I think I have some unfinished business with Warren in this event," Edwards said. "If you add what he has done with his son, Kurt, the tandem has made more starts in this event than the other six of us combined."

The Johnson family combined will be making their 39th start, while the other six drivers (Greg Anderson, Ron Krisher, Allen Johnson, Jeg Coughlin, Jason Line, and Edwards) collectively will be the 37th start.

If Edwards can pull off the victory on Saturday and follow it with the win on Sunday, he would receive a double-up bonus of $25,000 on top of his winnings.

Three Straight Runner-up Finishes Not Sitting Well

For most drivers, reaching the final at four straight events or five of the last six stops, which includes two victories, would be something they would hope for, Mike Edwards included. But now that he has lived through that and knows he should have collected a few more Wallys, Edwards wants to turn those three final-round letdowns into a summer run toward his first Pro Stock championship.
 
"This has been an incredible run we have been on as of late," he admitted. "I just wish it would have translated into a few more wins. We have had the car to beat at every race, so being in those shoes makes it tough when the trophy goes home with someone else."
 
To work on the problem, the team has tested and fills they are ready for the run toward the Chase for the Championship. "We are making sure we keep the momentum we have built over the next 6-7 races and set ourselves up to have a legitimate shot at the championship when the playoffs begin. That starts this weekend in Norwalk."
 
In the previous two trips to Summit Motorsports Park, Edwards did not qualify in 2007 and last year started from the No. 8 position, but lost in the opening frame.
 
"It is weird to say, that I just hope I win first round to say I have actually turned on the win light at the facility," Edwards joked. "The goal of everyone that shows up to compete in Pro Stock is to turn on that first round win light and go from there, so it will be a tough task just to reach that goal."
 
Currently, Edwards sits second place in points, his highest point at this point of his season of his career, trailing only Jeg Coughlin.

Quick Notes

Mike Edwards has qualified No. 1 at six of the first 11 events, with engine customer Ron Krisher grabbing the pole at the last stop, making it the tandem has secured the top spot at more than 63 percent of the events.
 
After only 11 events, Mike Edwards has compiled 25 round wins, which is only one short of his career best season of 26 that was last season.
 
Mike Edwards has appeared in six finals this season, surpassing his previous best of five his rookie year in 1996.
 
Mike Edwards has competed in 35 career final rounds, winning 17 of those finals.


Edwards Hopes Special Run Continues In Englishtown

For Mike Edwards, the last five events have been what he has hoped for since he started driving Pro Stock full-time in 1996.

In the stretch, he has reached the final four times, walking away with the NHRA Wally on two occasions, and at the same time grabbing the No. 1 qualifying spot three times, and the No. 2 spot at the other events as well.

During this run, the A.R.T./Young Life-backed Edwards has jumped to second in the points, his highest showing in his 13 years

"What can you say, it is like all of us on this team our living the fantasy of what we all hoped this would turn out like when we started down this path," he said. "It is just a special time right now and we are all enjoying it to the fullest. I just don't want it to end."

Edwards plans to continue the streak this weekend when the NHRA tour rolls into Englishtown, N.J., for the United Association NHRA SuperNationals.

The track has not been kind to Edwards and his Pontiac in the past, as he has only advanced past the first round only twice; the first in 1998 when he was runner-up and then last year by advancing to the semifinals.

"It is weird how some tracks just don't fit what you do," he said. "I love coming to this part of the country, but I just have never been able to turn that into round wins. This year I hope to be different."

EDWARDS: LIVING THE DREAM
Written by Stan Creekmore

By his own admission, Mike Edwards is “living the dream”. A dream that has led him to his sixth No.1 qualifying effort in the first ten races of season. And, as in the case of the previous five efforts, Edwards was humble in his accomplishment.

“It’s an honor to be in the position that we are in now,” Edwards said. “It’s so hard to do it [qualify No. 1] and to do it as many times as we have, I’m amazed myself.”

Recently, it appears all Edwards has to do is lay down a fast lap and then work on getting a setup for Sunday.

“We kept pecking away at the track and kept getting better and better,” Edwards said. “I feel comfortable right now and we made some adjustments to the car on that last run. We helped it and hopefully we can make a few more adjustments and be even better tomorrow.”

If there has been an Achilles heel in Edwards program it's been not being able to convert pole wins into race wins; consequently Edwards does not lead the point standings. Yet, like everything else, he accepts what fate has to offer and smiles.

“I feel like I have given some races away,” Edwards said. “Does it bother me to not lead the points? No. For me to be in the position I am in now, I’m overwhelmed and standing in company that I’ve never been with before with the Summit cars and the Jegs car … those people win championships. When I can be mentioned with those people …

“I feel like my team has overcome a lot. We’ve made a lot of good decisions over the winter and a lot of good progress. I feel very good about where we are at now and what we are doing. It’s all my guys … my guys at the shop … Paul and Nick … they’ve worked continuously and all of the guys here at the track … Josh, Terry, Al and John … all of my people. Sometimes you just get on a roll and things start clicking. You feel good about every time you come up to the line and what is going to happen. I think that’s because we are doing so well.” 

Edwards #1 Qualifier for Sixth Time This Season

Edwards continued to pace Pro Stock with his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season. He earned this one with a performance of 6.587 at 209.88 in his ART/Young Life Pontiac GXP. He was the only driver in his category to post runs of 6.5-seconds in three of the four qualifying sessions.  Edwards will try for his third win of the season by opening with No. 16 qualifier Ronnie Humphrey.

“It’s an honor to be able to do this and I’m overwhelmed with everything that we’ve accomplished this year,” Edwards said. “It’s just so hard to do that in this class, and for us to come out here and have that many No. 1s, I’m amazed myself. We keep pecking away at the track; we keep getting better and better. I feel comfortable right now. We made some adjustments before that run, and hopefully we can make some more adjustments and be better even for tomorrow.

“Where I’m at right now, I’m overwhelmed,” Edwards continued. “I’m in company where I’ve never been before: the Summit cars, the JEGS car, those kind of people, and those teams win championships. My team has overcome a lot. We made a lot of good decisions over the winter, and we made a lot of progress. A lot.”

Edwards Hopes For Repeat Of 2001 Chicago March

Turn the clocks back nearly a decade to 2001; Mike Edwards pulled into Route 66 Raceway and didn't know what to expect. He was teamed up with Ron Krisher, and the tandem was finding their stride.
 
Edwards was running real good, and knew they he and his team were on the cusp of something special. That weekend turned out to be owned by Edwards. In a performance that was considered "One of the Most Dominating Performances" of the 2000 season, Edwards did everything right.
 
"That was one of those events that everything came together perfectly," he said. "The car worked flawlessly and anything we did seem to turn to gold on the race track." It proved to be his best race until 2009. Edwards grabbed the pole, his third of his career, and was two-hundredths quicker in every round to capture the victory, defeating Jim Yates for his ninth NHRA victory.
 
Fast forward to 2009, Edwards has easily been the most dominant car for the season in qualifying, and the last four events in eliminations.
 
In Topeka, Edwards and his ART/Young Life Pontiac grabbed his fifth pole of the season, and reached his fourth final, falling to Allen Johnson.
 
"This last stretch has been nearly a dream," said Edwards, who the last four races, it would not be a surprise to anyone in attendance. In that span, Edwards has won two events and reached the final of a third, while qualifying No. 1 at three of those events.
 
"I have to take my hat off to all my guys; they just have done an awesome job and I can't express how good that feels. We're just having a great year. I've been doing this a long time, and I haven't had this much success. It's just fun to come out here and race."
 
Edwards currently sits in third place, 75 points behind leader Jeg Coughlin and a mere two points back of Jason Line.

Mike Edwards Quick Notes
  • has qualified No. 1 at five of the first 10 events. In total, he has 11 career pole efforts.
  • is the only driver in NHRA Pro Stock history to eclipse the 212-mph barrier, which he did in Houston, earlier in the season, with a record 212.03.
  • has been in 33 NHRA Pro Stock finals in his career; four of those trips in 2009. He has captured the title 17 times with two victories this season.
  • earned the 1982 NHRA Modified champion, the last year the class was contested by NHRA
  • named the 1996 NHRA co-Rookie of the Year with Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Hines

EDWARDS: TWO RUNS AND SUNSHINE, A GOOD THING

Written by Bobby Bennett Jr., Photo by Roger Richards   
Saturday, 30 May 2009

On a day typical of the deep Midwest, one of the region’s finest Pro Stock drivers turned in what has been a typical performance for him this season.

Mike Edwards ran a 6.674 elapsed time at 206.29 miles per hour. If his numbers hold, it will mark his fourth consecutive No. 1. Including eliminations, Edwards has been the quickest car in ten consecutive rounds of qualifying and eliminations.

“Any time we can come to the racetrack and have two runs with sunshine that’s a good thing,” Edwards said. “We made a really nice run tonight. We made a nice run the first pass too.”

That first run, a 6.692, 207.08, was made tricky by a starting line that he described as complex for the first car length.

“I think everybody has been trying to adapt to that and once they do, the runs are going to be even quicker,” Edwards admitted. “We made some adjustments and we feel like we got a little bit better. Hopefully we can build on that and run better on Saturday.”

If anyone can figure out the troublesome starting line, it’s Edwards who has qualified on the pole three times this season and considers Heartland Park Topeka to be his NHRA home track.

Edwards lives in Broken Arrow, Ok., a small town located 244 miles south of HPT near Tulsa.

“I have all my family here and I’ve never really done well with them here,” Edwards said. “It would be nice to win in front of my family.”

The last time Edwards won at HPT was in 1999.

But, then again, Edwards hasn’t had the kind of car he’s got now. Most importantly, it’s powered by an engine from his in-house engine program. Prior to last season, Edwards had bought or leased horsepower.

Now he makes his own.

“I’m really living a dream, once you and your team begin to gel you go up to the starting line with a lot of confidence,” Edwards explained. “I think you’re always going to have a little bit of doubt but if you can go up to the line with 75% confidence … it beats going up there with 25%.

“You have to keep the wheels on this thing because they can come off quickly. There are lots of good teams out there and we plan to race the track tomorrow and see what happens.”

Edwards has a monumental challenge ahead of him if he hopes to improve on Friday’s run with Saturday’s forecast showing equally warm temperatures. Those conditions are expected to challenge even the most seasoned tuners.

The silver lining in that dark cloud is that Pro Stock will run their third session overall and first on Saturday at 11:30 AM, CST.

“If someone is going to step up from today, it will come during that season,” Edwards proclaimed. “It all depends on the weather because we race naturally aspirated race cars. The car breathes what we breathe. If it’s nice and cool outside then … then they run really well. If it’s muggy and hot, it’s just like us … it doesn’t run so well.”

GIVING BACK – Edwards continues to devote time before each race to local Young Life programs and on the Thursday before the event, Edwards entertained 51 inner city children from Kansas City, Mo.

“My Young Life program is the first and foremost for me out here,” Edwards admitted. “We live and breathe those kids. It’s all about Christ and it’s all about those kids … the racing is just a plus. I give God all of the glory.”  

 

With Strong Start to '09 Season, Edwards Driving Car to Beat in Pro Stock


Mike Edwards
If the Pro Stock performance that was put on display by Mike Edwards and his workaholic ART/Young Life Pontiac GXP teammates at Bristol Dragway two weeks ago is a preview of what's to come for his fellow competitors in the 200 mph category, those respective teams better get to work.

And they better get to work fast.

At Bristol's Thunder Valley Nationals, Edwards' driving was near perfect. His GXP's setup was flawless. He left his competition in his dust all weekend. He was the No. 1 qualifier. He won the race. And just for good measure, he set the low elapsed time for the event in his final-round victory over three-time series champ Greg Anderson.

It was all in a day's work for this very humble and highly spiritual self-confessed total gear head from Oklahoma who now heads to Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas for the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals, May 29-31. He will try to keep the momentum going so he can improve on his third place position in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock points order. Hillary Will (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); and Ron Krisher (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the event, which will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD.

Edwards had been making waves and turning heads early in the season in spurts, taking three No. 1 qualifying positions, a runner-up finish at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif. and a victory in mid-April in Atlanta.

However, his flashes of brilliance before his exclamation point victory at Bristol were tempered with a few moments of futility. After being recognized by his peers as having the car to beat with No. 1 qualifying performances at Phoenix, Gainesville and Las Vegas, he lost all three races in the second round. At St. Louis he qualified second but lost in the first round to Justin Humphreys on a red-light start.

Heading into Bristol he decided to focus intensely on his driving and had his team work overtime to find more horsepower. The results were immediate.

"I had been struggling with my driving and I felt like I gave a couple of races away," Edwards said. "I have been qualifying No. 1 and felt like I let my team down a few times. We have just tested, tested and tested and worked countless hours at this. I have the best group of guys in the world. Finally all the hard work is paying off and the results are showing."


Edwards vs. Anderson
Edwards knows if he is to sustain his run for the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship that is the effort he's going to need during the stretch run of the regular season and for the six-race playoffs, the Countdown to 1. Series leader Jeg Coughlin has raced out to a good lead with three victories in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt, while Line has also been impressive in his Summit Racing GXP with two wins. Anderson is starting to get on the fast track in his Summit Pontiac as well.

"I don't know if people realize how hard it is to do well in this class," said Edwards, whose best series points finish in his 15-year career is third (1996). "I respect Greg (Anderson) and Jason (Line) and those are the guys you want to beat because they've been up there so long, just like Warren and Kurt (Johnson) too. To beat those guys ... I never dreamed I would be as competitive in this class and run like this. It's an awesome feeling."

Courtesy of Drag Race Central, posted 5/27/09

Who Are The Favorites? Did You Know?
by Bob Frey

Mike Edwards comes into the Topeka race fresh off one of the most dominating performances of his career. His win in Bristol was, as I mentioned last week, as close to total domination as you can get. But even though Mike has won in Topeka before it certainly isn't one of his better tracks, at least from a performance standpoint. Did you know that Mike has raced seventeen times at Heartland Park and has only qualified in the top half of the field five times? And of those seventeen trips to mid-America he has made it to the finals twice but he also has five round one losses. Of course he never came here with a car like he has this year. Did you know that when Mike won the Topeka race in 1999 he did it after qualifying sixteenth in the field? That puts him in a very select group of drivers, a group of three to be exact, who have won in Pro Stock after qualifying sixteenth and last in the field. As hard as it may be to believe, Mike was the first driver in the history of the class to win from the last spot when he did it in '99.

Helmet Auction

Professional Drag Racing drivers very seldom sell their helmets to the public. Most keep them as a
special memory from their racing history. But the Professional Racers Owners Organization (PRO)
has assembled 20 of the top drivers in the NHRA Drag Racing Series to donate one of their helmets
for the “Great Helmet Auction”. The 10-day auction will be hosted on eBay beginning June 6 and
ending on June 15. Direct links to eBay for each helmet can be found by the driver’s helmet & name.

Winning bids will benefit PRO, a trade organization providing services and other benefits to professional drag racing team owners and drivers; with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Racers for Christ (Team RFC), an organization which has been servicing NHRA for over 25 years.

This will be one of the few times in motorsport history where, you the fans; will get the opportunity to bid on a helmet worn by one of the top drivers in NHRA’s Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock classes.

Visit www.greathelmetauction.com for more information

EDWARDS: GRACIOUS DOMINATOR

Written by Bobby Bennett
Monday, 18 May 2009

A bull in a china shop would have been less conspicuous than the domination Mike Edwards displayed this past weekend.

Edwards left no doubt that he was the man to beat at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Pro Stock title from day one when he moved to the top of the qualifying order in the first session. He then solidified his hold on the top spot in the second qualifying session. On the final day of qualifying, when he couldn’t improve on his Friday effort, he was still the quickest each time down the track.

On Sunday he saved the best for last as he not only established low elapsed time for the event, set a new track ET record and scored his second NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock victory of the 2009 season.

Whatever has ailed the former sportsman world champion from Coweta, Ok., on race day in the past clearly appears to be gone. Edwards was flawless as he beat Greg Anderson in the final round of eliminations.

Edwards held a sign that read “I’m the man” as he conducted his post-run interview. The modest Edwards didn’t write the sign but he sure epitomized its words.

“I don’t know if I am … but we ran so good,” Edwards said. “Every run we got just a little bit better each time. I can’t believe we ran as well as we did.”

The victory moved Edwards into the top ten amongst the all-time Pro Stock winners.

Edwards has consistently credited his new in-house engine program for his recent success, outside of his Christian faith.

“Roger Stull, my long time friend and business partner, we made the decision that we were going to make one last attempt to do this the right way, or at least in the way we believed was right,” Edwards said. “We lowered the boom, stepped out into the water and the Lord met us halfway.”

Edward greatly resembled the legendary basketball star Michael Jordan with his latest victory. Against logic, Jordan would loft a ball and it would miraculously find the net. Then he would shrug his shoulders in disbelief.

Edwards exhibited the same facial mannerisms with each winning round.

He made it look effortless. It wasn't, a point Edwards is quick to make.

“I don’t think anyone outside of those who run in this class know just how hard it really is to win one of these races,” Edwards explained. “When you have the caliber of competition that we have in this class they inspire you to be the best. You want to beat them. When you can beat the legends in this class like we have been able to do, it’s as if you’re living a dream. This goes beyond an awesome feeling." 

Edwards Utterly Dominates Bristol In Victory
Sets low e.t. each round to score second of 2009

In quite honestly, the most dominating performance in his NHRA Pro Stock career, Mike Edwards from the first qualifying run on Friday of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, to the final round on Sunday, the A.R.T./Young Life Pontiac was the star of the class. On all eight runs, Edwards was the quickest each time, including earning his fourth top qualifier of the year. But, he saved his best for last as Edwards not only established a Bristol Dragway e.t. record, but captured his second title of the season.

Edwards has been the best car at nearly every event this year, but the NHRA Wallys were not rolling back with the team to Oklahoma, as little things upended the team on Sunday. It nearly happened in the first round again when Edwards was a bit off on the starting line, but the vaunted team horsepower prevailed over David Beakley. It was almost like Edwards got the wake-up call he needed and found his driving groove that he has been known for throughout his career.

In round two, Edwards was the picture of perfection with a .000 light and 6.639 that ended Kurt Johnson's day. He followed it up with a 6.643 to defeat a red-lighting Jason Line and earn a spot in his 32nd final against Greg Anderson, who held a 29-5 win mark against Edwards and was perfect 1-0 in previous final rounds.

Edwards had another near perfect light in the final and included that to a 6.633 that gave him the win over Greg Anderson's 6.658. Edwards, who also won in Atlanta, now has 17 Pro Stock wins to his credit.

"We just ran so good," said Edwards. "Every run it just seemed like we got a little bit better and I can't believe we ran this well every run. Eight runs, and we were the fastest car every run down the track. I don't know if people really know how hard it is in this class to win one of these races. I respect Greg Anderson and Jason Line, Warren and Kurt Johnson, and everybody. They're the guys you want to try to beat because they've been up there so long. To beat those guys, I just never dreamed I could be this competitive in this class, and to run like this is just an awesome feeling.

"I have a wonderful team. These guys, they work so hard. We have just tested and tested and tested, and it's paying off for us. My guys just work endless hours. Boy it feels good to do this. I've always wanted to win this race. There is a lot of tradition around here with that big old circle track. You get chills just being around here, so this feels good."

The victory moved Edwards that much closer to the top of the Pro Stock field, as he sits third, trailing Jeg Coughlin by less than 100 points and Line.

Edwards has consistently credited his new in-house engine program for his recent success.
"Roger Stull, my long time friend and business partner, we made the decision that we were going to make one last attempt to do this the right way, or at least in the way we believed was right," Edwards said. "We lowered the boom, stepped out into the water and the Lord met us halfway."

EDWARDS MORE IMPRESSED WITH
SATURDAY'S SLOWER RUNS IN BRISTOL

Written by Bobby Bennett Jr.
Saturday, 16 May 2009

Pro Stock No. 1 qualifier Mike Edwards confessed that he was more impressed with his pair of Saturday runs during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals than the one that put him atop the field for the fourth time in 2009.

Saturday he may not have been quicker but he didn’t leave anything on the table headed into Sunday’s final eliminations either. The second day was spent seeking that edge of the envelope for race day.

“We just tried to keep up with the track and make our adjustments,” Edwards said. “I was more impressed with our runs today than I was on Friday because we left some on the table then. We made some really good runs in the heat of the day.”

Edwards was nearly .05 slower on Saturday but that fall in performance was proportionate with the conditions he had to work with. He ran a 6.74 in the opening session and returned in the final with a 6.73, both runs representing the quickest of the day.

“I think they provide me with as good of a chance as anyone,” Edwards said of his Saturday runs. “You race the track when you are qualifying. You have to race the track every time on Sunday but you also have to run the guy in the other lane. I have struggled with my driving on Sunday but hopefully I can turn that around.”

Sunday may require the former NHRA sportsman world champion to call on his years of experience to battle a tricky racing surface that can often confuse even the most seasoned veterans.

“Pretty tricky track to get down … with the bumps, but my guys have done a great job with this car and we have made four incredible runs this weekend,” Edwards said. “I want to give God the glory because I am blessed to be out here.”

EDWARDS: THE IMPORTANT MESSAGE

Mike Edwards doesn’t want a valuable message lost in the midst of his recent success.

It’s a message that transcends any No. 1 qualifying effort or round win.

Through a relationship with Young Life, a Christian-based non-denominational youth organization, Edwards reaches out and provides encouragement to teens when others may turn their back on them. Mike Edwards Motorsports calls itself a “Team on a Mission,” and provides trips to camp for every round win. Several drivers, companies and individuals have stepped up the plate to make the program work. In 2008, the project was able to send 140 kids to Young Life camp for a week.

The Young Life logo can be seen plastered across the hood of his car, but Edwards and his team receives no financial support from Young Life.

“Young Life is on the car because of our love of kids and trying to lead them to Christ,” said Edwards. “We receive no financial support from Young Life; we do it because we want to. Applied Racing Technology, A.R.T., is a mail-order business in Florida. They have been with me for seven or eight years, and they’ve stepped up this year and really helped me a bunch. They’re great friends to us.”

“It is a great chance to bring the kids to the races, because most of them don’t get the opportunity to do that. It has been a great privilege and a blessing to be around those kids. It is a great program and I wish I could get more people involved with it. These kids are good kids; they just have had a bad start in life. They need a little help and encouragement. It is a great program and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

Not only does Edwards work to send kids to camp, he lets them meet on Thursdays in his pit area.  The opportunity to mentor the kids is not lost on Edwards.

“They have club once a week at schools or wherever they have it. Instead of having it there, they can come to the race track to my pit area and we have club there. We supply them with hot dogs and drinks. Some of them get to come back out on Saturday to watch the race, so it is a pretty exciting weekend for them.”

He hopes the kids will have a great time watching him win in Bristol.

“When we get there, it is usually packed out, so I like that,” he said of Thunder Valley. “It is just a laid-back atmosphere with good down-to-earth folks. I’ve been around those kind of people my whole life, so I enjoy coming there. The fans are all about racing, so I just enjoy going there and putting on a show for them. I’d like to win there one time. I’ve been close, but I’d like to win this year.”

Edwards is not the only one that would like to see himself win in Bristol … a few members of Young Life also would be pretty happy.

“The Young Life program is the most rewarding part of racing,” Edwards admitted. “I would love to win every race I go to; I know it isn’t possible, but we do our program on Thursday nights and if I can turn one of these kids’ lives around, that would be better than any trophy I could ever win. I promise you.”

Mission accomplished.

Edwards Shoots For Back-to-back Victories In St. Louis Stop

The saying is, "When momentum is on your side, good things usually happen," and that has been the case for Mike Edwards, not only in the first part of the 2009 season, but over the course of his career.
After four of his previous NHRA Pro Stock victories, Edwards has struck while the iron was hot, capturing back-to-back titles in 1999 in Topeka and Memphis, and backing up the victory with a runner-up showing at the next event. 
"Some times you just get on a role and everything just clicks," Edwards said. "It is not that you are doing anything different, but I feel the confidence is there and so you just know you can get the job done."

After capturing his second straight Atlanta title, Edwards hopes to add a second title from the St. Louis stop to go with his 2006 trophy. "This has been a major hit or miss stop for us," he admitted. "We have struggled at times at Gateway Int'l Raceway (four DNQs), and then tasted the pinnacle of each event by grabbing the Wally in 2006. So, I hope what happened in Atlanta carries over to this weekend and we can make another trip to the winner's circle."

Currently Edwards sits in third place in the NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock points, trailing points leader Jeg Coughlin by 63 points, and second place Jason Line by a mere 33. "We have had a great run the start of the season and have put ourselves in position to battle for the championship," he said. "We just need to keep that old friend momentum in our camp for 18 more races and see what happens at the end."

Fast Facts

With his victory in Atlanta, Mike Edwards has won an event in nine different seasons.

By beating Jeg Coughlin in the final, Mike Edwards has squared off and defeated 11 different drivers in the final since his first at 2006 Houston. Of the group, he has defeated Kurt Johnson and Jim Yates on three occasions and Jason Line at two different events. The other drivers are Ray Franks, Rickie Smith, Warren Johnson, Richie Stevents, Troy Coughlin, Allen Johnson, and Larry Morgan.

On the flip side, Mike Edwards other 15 trips to the final have him coming out on the losing end to eight different drivers, including Warren Johnson, Jim Yates, and Kurt Johnson each three times, and Jeg Coughlin twice. The other four are Tom Martino, Richie Stevens, Greg Anderson, and Jason Line.

A note from Bob Frey's column on www.dragracecentral.com, "Mike has recorded low elapsed time three times this year and top speed twice. Did you know that he has already set low e.t. more times this year, in just six races, than in any other year in his career." 

NHRA'S 2009 PLEASANT SURPRISES

Written by Bobby Bennett Jr
Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Mike Edwards has been a standout driver in the NHRA Pro Stock division through the first six races of the 2009 season. When asked if his results this year have been a pleasant surprise Edwards didn't hesitate with his answer.

“Pleasant surprise,” Edwards agreed immediately. “That describes it the best.”

Edwards, the former NHRA sportsman world champion Broken Arrow, OK., has driven his way to two final rounds, losing one and then winning in Atlanta and four No. 1 qualifying positions this year.

Despite his early season success, Edwards shies away from being labeled a front-runner, even though several media outlets proclaim him one without reservation.

“I don't know if I am a front-runner. I definitely am in the top four cars, that's for sure,” Edwards contended. “We're running good. We're as fast as anybody. Me and Greg (Anderson), over there at Atlanta, were a hundredth apart on every run. He was just a little ahead of me on every run. On race day I was just a tick ahead of him. We're definitely running at the front.”

Running consistently just doesn't happen. It takes hard work and acceptance that what you are doing is taking you in the right direction. 

“We're making good runs. I'm pretty comfortable with it,” Edwards said of the progress the team is making.  “There is always the unexpected out there. We're always working on it. I test all the time. I'm always changing things up trying to make it better.

“I'm comfortable with my car, I feel like we're making good adjustments. We're trying to race the track at the same time as we're racing the guy in the other lane on race day. In qualifying we're just trying to race the track and the conditions. We've been doing a good job.”

With improved performance comes a great pressure to succeed and if a driver isn't paying attention he can quickly succumb to the slings and arrows of the competition. Fortunately for Edwards, running better than expected has brought to him a feeling of comfort; comfort that has equaled even stronger performances.

“You seem to be a little more laid back if you’re qualified number one,” Edwards said. “If you are qualified number one it only means one thing – you have a fast car. You do your job and you've got a chance to win. That's the way I am going to have to start looking at. Maybe, if you start running fast enough you might get guys to start making mistakes against you.”

The right effort and the right planning has taken Edwards from the guy in danger of making mistakes to the guy taking advantage of the mistakes of others.

“Last year was totally different from this year from the way we're running and qualifying [this season],” Edwards said. “You try to keep the same mindset every time you pull up there. It's definitely different this year then it was last year. Last year we went to the races hoping to qualify decent and this year we're going to the race thinking we can possibly win the race.” 

That for Edwards comes as a pleasant surprise.

Edwards Gets Back To Atlanta's Winners Circle
Tops Reigning Champ Couglin in Rain-delayed Final

For the second straight time, Mike Edwards can say he is the champion at Atlanta Dragway. He scored his back-to-back title when he bested Jeg Coughlin in the final.

In a weekend that could be termed the battle of the mail order companies, as the semifinals were composed of Coughlin's Jeg Mail Order ride and the vaunted Summit team of Greg Anderson and Jason Line. At the end, it was Applied Racing Technology and Edwards who grabbed the bragging rights. 

Late Sunday evening, Edwards downed Line, who had got the best of him in the Pomona final, when he used a better light and 6.63 to down the two-time 2009 winner's 6.64. With Coughlin taking care of Anderson in the other semifinal, it setup the third time that the Edwards and Coughlin would meet for the Pro Stock crown.

NHRA elected to move the final to Monday morning for better conditions and to Edwards believed that could have helped his cause. "I didn't have any problem sleeping last night because I knew I was in the final and just had to relax and race," said Edwards, who earned rain-delay wins in Seattle in 1996 and Topeka in 1999. "We came out this morning and had the car set on kill, as it was last night, but realized the track might not be in the same shape, so we made some changes to the car, hoping it would help it get down the track. I knew I just needed to cut a light and we would have a chance."

The changes worked as Edwards finally stopped the reigning Pro Stock champion in the final, after dropping title bouts in 1998 and 2001, when he used the best reaction time of the weekend, a .019, and a somewhat conservative 6.64 to get to the strip first as Coughlin slowed to a 7.19.

"Jeg has been a thorn in my side for as long as he has been competing in Pro Stock," said Edwards, who improved his record to 7-18 against Coughlin. "I guess you can say he has done the same to the entire Pro Stock field. When you can come out on the winning end against a talent like Jeg, you have done your job and know the next time you line up against that yellow and black car it is going to be even tougher."

The twist in Edwards' 16th career victory, the trip to Atlanta has never been a pleasant stop on the NHRA Full Throttle tour. "Up until last year I always dreaded coming to this track," Edwards recalled. "We never did well here and early in my Pro Stock career and had a crash at the facility, so the memories of the place were always bleak. I'm just glad that our perseverance is finally paying off and now Atlanta might be one of my favorite tracks. I wish NHRA had a few more races here this season."

Edwards knows that he would not have been able to grab the Wally if it wasn't for the entire group and is glad he could lift up the trophy for them.

"We've had a car that should have a couple more race wins by this time, but some areas of the entire package were not clicking," Edwards admitted. "This weekend through the adverse conditions of dealing with a different track each time, we made the right decisions and put this team back in the winner's circle and got another Wally.

"I have to take my hat off to everyone involved with this team, from the crew at the track and in the shop, to Roger and Ann Stull, Derek and Cathy Steinbach at ART, Young Life, to all our other sponsors and friends, and everyone else involved with this operation. None of this would be possible without them."

EDWARDS: RELAXATION THE KEY
Written by: Competition Plus
April 20, 2009

Mike Edwards has learned that when it rains it pours. At least that’s how it works for his Pro Stock team.

Edwards drove to his first NHRA Full Throttle victory of the 2009 season in stopping Jeg Coughlin Jr. in a rain-delayed NHRA Southern Nationals final round.
 
The former sportsman world champion has earned four No. 1 qualifying positions in six races this season, yet hasn’t made his way past the second round in those events.

However, let it rain and Edwards has become a sure bet to reach the final round.

“It doesn’t matter if you win on Sunday or Monday … it’s an unbelievable challenge to win (a Pro Stock race). You can’t make a mistake and win in this class,” Edwards said.

Edwards will admit that he’s made more than his fair share of race day mistakes on the weekend’s he should have dominated. There have been times when Edwards has wondered if the qualifying dominance has thrown his program off-kilter at times.

Twice last season, when Edwards didn’t qualify as strong, he twice recorded .000 perfect starting line reaction times. He’s lost that many times in 2009 on a holeshot.

A man of strong faith, Edwards realized prior to the weekend that he needed to zero in on what was ailing the team on Sundays. He began his investigation with the driver.

“It's thrown something off I believe,” Edward joked. “But I don't know what it's thrown off. You just got to keep buckling up and go up there and try again. I'm not down on myself I'm just focused on what I need to be doing. I just have to get more comfortable and relax. You know when you have that many good qualifying sessions there's always a lot of pressure on you. I just think I need to stop thinking so much and go up there and react.”

Edwards had plenty of time to think and react, not to mention a good night’s sleep.

"I didn't have any problem sleeping last night because I knew I was in the final and just had to relax and race," said Edwards, who also earned rain-delay wins in Seattle in 1996 and Topeka in 1999. "We came out this morning and had the car set on kill, as it was last night, but realized the track might not be in the same shape, so we made some changes to the car, hoping it would help it get down the track. I knew I just needed to cut a light and we would have a chance."

The changes worked as Edwards finally stopped the reigning Pro Stock champion in the final, after dropping title bouts in 1998 and 2001, when he used the best reaction time of the weekend, a .019, and a somewhat conservative 6.64 to get to the stripe first as Coughlin slowed to a 7.19.

"Jeg has been a thorn in my side for as long as he has been competing in Pro Stock," said Edwards, who improved his record to 7-18 against Coughlin. "I guess you can say he has done the same to the entire Pro Stock field. When you can come out on the winning end against a talent like Jeg, you have done your job and know the next time you line up against that yellow and black car it is going to be even tougher."

Edwards can hold his own against the competition his worst start this season has been from the No. 4 position. This is a feat that Edwards credits to his in-house engine program in 2008 and this year he’s leasing engines to Pro Stock racer Ron Krisher. One might draw the conclusion the added duty has him spread thinner than usual in final eliminations, the one day where concentration is king.

“I think I am doing more than I ever have been but I've just been a kind of knucklehead on Sunday,” Edwards admitted.

If he gets his concentration dialed in, should the competition get worried?

“Well I really like my chances. I'll put it that way,” Edwards said, as he looked to the sky and smiled.

EDWARDS BECOMES FIRST PROSTOCKER TO CRACK 212 MPH
Thursday, 02 April 2009-Drag Race Central

LAS VEGAS -- In the semifinals in Houston, Mike Edwards recorded history in NHRA Pro Stock competition, when he became the first driver to eclipse the 212 mph barrier with a 212.03 shot. It marks the first time that Edwards has left an event holding either the national speed or e.t. record. "What an awesome feeling to have that honor in your camp. Speed doesn't win races for you, but it sure proves all the effort is paying off in big numbers," he said.

By grabbing the NHRA Pro Stock speed record, Edwards ended a streak by the Ken Black-owned Pro Stock stable of drivers Greg Anderson and Jason Line, who between the pair have held the mark for nearly six years.

At the 2003 Winternationals in Pomona, Warren Johnson grabbed the coveted record with a 204.91 mph shot, only to hand the title over to Anderson a few months later at the Englishtown stop with a 207.18 mph run. Since that time Anderson and Line have swapped the record a handful of times until Edwards blasted the sports first 212 mph run.

"What an honor to be in the company of such drivers as Greg and Jason, who have been the kingpins of the class for nearly the last decade," Edwards added. "This is one of those things I will always remember and everyone on this team is just as proud."

In competing in 11 of the possible 16 rounds of competition thus far, Mike Edwards has traveled a mere 2.75 miles enroute to seven rounds wins.

In setting the NHRA Pro Stock speed record at 212.03 mph, Mike was traveling at 311 feet per second at the finish line. A normal street car going 70 mph is approximately 102 feet per second. Edwards Starts 2009 Season On Hot Streak

The only thing missing from Mike Edwards 2009 resume to this point is an NHRA victory. Behind the wheel of his team's Pontiac GXP, he has started this year's campaign almost like a pre-season script every racer hopes for.

In the first four stops on the NHRA tour, Edwards has earned a runner-up finish, back-to-back No. 1 qualifiers, and in Houston reached the semifinals while recording the fastest speed in NHRA history and becoming the first driver to eclipse the 212 mph barrier.

"Everything that has happened to the Mike Edwards Motorsports team is all due to the hard work from every single person that is part of this program," Edwards said. "The guys at the engine shop have worked their tails off to get us some of the best power in the class. The guys at the race shop who travel to the events have done a flawless job on their end as well; all that has made my job behind the wheel that much easier."

With the start, Edwards sits third in the NHRA standings, his best after the first four events at any part during his career. "We have put in the hours and everything to make this team a success on and off the track. It is nice to see all that come together at this point in my career. I know that none of this would be possible if it wasn't for the support from everyone on the team, the sponsors, and Roger and Ann Stull. It is truly an honor to represent so many fine individuals."

At the beginning of the 2009 season, Mike Edwards expanded his racing operation and to include leasing engines to longtime Pro Stock campaigner Ron Krisher. After only four races into the partnership, it has paid huge dividends for both teams, as Krisher drove his Valvoline Cobalt to the winner's circle in Houston.

"By adding Ron to the engine program helps both of us in so many areas," Edwards added. "It gives both of us that much more information to work with and to move the entire operation forward in a bit quicker manner. Ron and I have worked together in the past, and by getting back together again at the back-end of our driving careers, it gives us both that shot of reaching the top of the NHRA Pro Stock world. Everything has come together even quicker than we thought, which we hope leads to a real strong close to the year."

En route to his victory, Krisher did sideline Edwards in the semifinals before taking care of reigning Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin in the final. "I think between Mike and me, we are as powerful as anyone in this class right now," Krisher added. "As a tandem we have been capable of running with anyone anywhere."

The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has not been the nicest facility on the NHRA tour for Mike Edwards when it comes to victories, much less round wins. But, after the pre-season testing and how the year has started, Edwards believes the 2009 spring stop is when the luck changes.

"For some reason, we have never done as well as we hoped at this track," he said. "This year though, in testing we had the quickest time and we hope that translates into a better weekend."

In the previous 18 visits to Las Vegas, Edwards has only carded five round wins, never getting past the second round. "That kind of streak needs to end this weekend," he said. "It is weird that some tracks you can't do anything wrong and others, you could be nearly perfect and still lose. That is how I feel about Las Vegas." Las Vegas Television Coverage

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR EDWARDS
Written by Bobby Bennett
Sunday, 29 March 2009

212.03 – Then Gets Beat By His Own Horsepower …

It was all good news and bad news for Mike Edwards during the semi-finals of the NHRA O’Reilly
Springnationals in Houston, Tx.

Edwards, long considered to be one of the best drivers in NHRA Pro Stock competition, drove his way to the fastest speed in drag racing history, 212.03 mph, against Ron Krisher.

That was the good news.

However, Krisher took the win-light by a scant two inches.

That was the bad news.

Even in losing, Edwards was a winner. Krisher leases race engines from Edwards and the power plant between the fenders for that match was the same one Edward used to qualify No. 1 with in Gainesville.

Why would he give up such a stout performing engine?

“I don’t know, that’s a good question,” Edwards said. “I don’t know. I think I have created a
monster in this guy. He is just doing awesome.”

Krisher has nothing but praise for Edwards.

“He’s been giving me all I need to do this,” Krisher admitted. “I can’t say enough about Mike.”

Yeah, but will Edwards take the engine for himself next weekend?

“I might not see this one again,” Krisher said with a laugh. 

Of special interest, Krisher is running a Roger Holmgren-built Lazarus chassis, identical to the one
V. Gaines is running. Mike Edwards has also taken delivery of a Lazarus entry as well.

EDWARDS ADJUSTING TO SUCCESS
Written by Bobby Bennett Jr.; Photo by Roger Richards


Mike Edwards still finds success a foreign experience.

For the second event in a row, the ART-sponsored driver heads into the final day of qualifying at the NHRA Gatornationals as the Pro Stock provisional low qualifier.

Edwards turned in a 6.582 elapsed time at 209.10 miles per hour to lead Greg Anderson by over .01 of a second. It's a feat he would have dismissed a year ago as fantasy talk.

He’s learning that 2009 is quickly becoming the season where fantasy crosses paths with reality.

“I’m not real used to this to be honest,” Edwards admitted. “This is very nice and rewarding at the same time when you put this much effort in and get these kinds of results. This is rewarding. I am appreciative of everything and want to give God the glory for our accomplishment 
 

Edwards Grabs Second Straight Pro Stock Pole
To Lead Gainesville Field Into Sunday Action

Backing up his performance three weeks prior in Phoenix, Mike Edwards has wheeled his special-design A.R.T./Young Life Pontiac GXP to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position of the season and eighth of his career, with a 6.582 at 209.95.

Edwards feels it comes down to the little things that have put him out front for two consecutive events. "We've just been trying to race the track," Edwards said. "We're not making any changes that we didn't know anything about. We're just adjusting the car to the track and the tune-up to the air that we have." "The car is just making phenomenal runs; it's just so smooth out there. If we can keep doing that tomorrow, hopefully we can have a good day. It's a long season, but we're sure excited about how we've started it. We've just got to keep the wheels on the car and keep being consistent at every racetrack."

THE EDWARDS NICHE MARKET
(courtesy of Competitionplus.com)

Mike Edwards has come to realize that every Pro Stock driver has to have a niche if they hope to have a fighting chance of competing.

For the former sportsman world champion from Broken Arrow, Okla., his role is to be the driver who is able to make the most with the least, while simultaneously fighting to keep his place in the game, against many of the higher financed operations. To that end, Edwards and partner Roger Stull, a successful businessman, have invested their money wisely creating a team that can run with the best the class has to offer.

Edwards drove his way to his second consecutive pole position in 2009, improving on a Friday run at the NHRA ACDelco Gatornationals that he deemed beatable by everyone but himself.

After two more rounds of qualifying, Edwards prediction came true with a single exception. His competitors beat his time, but no by nearly enough, as he drove his Pontiac to a 6.582, a ful hundredth of a second faster than Greg Anderson, in a division measured in thousandths of a second.

He used the third stop on the NHRA Full Throttle tour to provide yet another platform to showcase how he is making more with less, slaying the division giants in the process. 
"I think that is an overstatement. We just try," Edwards said humbly. "That's all we can do it try. You just do the best with what you've got. Right now, I'm probably in the best shape I have ever been since I've been racing as far as my engine program and the people I have in place. It's kinda on my shoulders."

Those who have supported Edwards over the years in his quest to make his place in Pro Stock know how deep is his desire to succeed. They know what drives this soft-spoken man who takes being humble to a new level.

He's never carried the large corporate backing with unlimited budgets. Edwards has carried enough backing over the years with large corporations such as Penhall, to get the job done. He's even found a way to provide the necessary goodwill and humanitarian support to Young Life, an organization that works with inner city kids, in an attempt to give back to society what he has been blessed to have.

Gainesville became an opportunity for Edwards to give back to a sponsor who has supported him faithfully over the seasons.

Edwards made his 2009 debut with Derek and Cathy Steinbach's Applied Racing Technology [ART] in the primary sponsor role. He believed the southern Florida-based company could benefit most from the exposure.

"They are kinda the last man standing for us this year," Edwards said. "We've lost all of our sponsors. They've [ART] hung in there with us. We wanted to represent them the best way we could and give them recognition and hopefully we can do a good job his weekend and have a good race for them.

Nothing says recognition like a No. 1 qualifying position in arguably the most competitive class in professional drag racing.

Nothing describes this kind of success for Edwards that being strongest at his monetary weakest.

"You dream of having enough stuff to run really, really good and having a chance to come to a race," Edwards admitted. "We used to come to the races hoping we could just qualify and now we come thinking you can win. That's the mindset you have to have going in when you're in a position like we are now. It because of hard work, a lot of dedication and all the guys, Roger, the funding and all of our help."

Edwards has clearly proven to be one of the more mild-mannered racers, choosing to let his actions serve as his Christian testimony. There are times, in the heated nature of a competitive class such as Pro Stock, that he can't help but feel like a wounded animal pushed in a corner.

Consider his back-to-back No. 1's as his way of fighting back. Frugally and mentally, Edwards is on his game.

Edwards To Debut A.R.T. Look At Gators
Written by: John Miller

 
Pro Stock racer Mike Edwards will showcase a special design scheme of one of the leading chassis component mail-order suppliers when he unveils the Applied Racing Technology (A.R.T.) special-edition Pontiac GXP beginning at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals this weekend.
 
Since 2001, A.R.T., and the company's distinctive red and black logo, has been a featured partner with Edwards' Pro Stock operation and will continue to do so in a larger role.
 
"This is a great plus for our team," Edwards said. "We have worked with A.R.T. over the years to formulate ways to market its brand in the drag-racing arena.  This has helped us build a strong relationship with such individuals as A.R.T.'s owner Derek Steinbach over the last eight years and as a team we are fortunate to have their great company continuing to support us."
 
"We hope that everything we have in place will only strengthen their business strategies for not only the 2009 season but well beyond."
 
Steinbach added, "Our company is proud to be a sponsor of the Mike Edwards Motorsports team. Their success and excellence on the race track is a very positive reflection for anyone associated with their organization."
 
A.R.T. manufactures its own line of private label chassis and suspension components, and is also a warehouse distributor for over 70 other manufacturers' lines, allowing the company to offer its customers a wide range of products. The company is committed to personalized service and has become known for its sales advisors' knowledge and experience.  Racing is a way of life for A.R.T. and their enthusiasm for the sport is reflected in their personal involvement and participation.  For information on A.R.T., go to the company website at www.appliedracing.com.

Building His Own Engine Pays Dividends For Edwards
Written by: Craig Wack as posted on SpeedTV

When Mike Edwards decided to improve his Pro Stock program he knew right where to start -- with his engines. Build 'em, test 'em, race 'em -- it was the best way to make the leap from qualifier to contender.

"Everybody who's been successful in this class has had their own engine program," said Edwards, who owns and drives his rcecar. "We decided to make the commitment and start our own program."

Shortly before the 2008 season, Edwards hired a staff, including Nick Ferri from Jeg Coughlin's team at Cagnazzi Racing, and began the process of constructing engines for this Young Life/Penhall Pontiac GXP. The going was rocky at times, but it was enough to catapult the 51-year-old Oklahoma native to a pair of wins (Atlanta, Memphis) and a fourth-place finish in the Full Throttle championship points.

After a little more than one year since the start of his in-house engine program, Edwards has now established himself as a solid early contender this year. He was runner-up to Jason Line in the series opener in Pomona and was No. 1 qualifier at Phoenix before bowing out in the second round.

"It's paying off for us already," he said. "We've come a long way in a short amount of time but we've still got a big mountain to climb. There are some good teams out there ahead of us.

"I'm definitely pleased with the way it's turned out and the direction it's going. At this point we've run good, just not raced real good on Sundays. The performance of the car has gone real well, we just need to get it all together and win a couple of these races."

The change in status--from mid-packfodder to bonafide title contender -- has given his team a big morale boost.

"Now when we go to races we know we have enough power to qualify," Edwards said. "It's just a matter of executing. Before this year we had to make an awesome run on the best session, weather-wise, just to make the show. Now with the program we feel like we can be one of the top two or three cars each session. When you do that you feel pretty confident about racing on Sunday."

He added that having his own program gives him a certain degree of flexibility he didn't have before.

"We've got some more stuff we're working pretty hard on," Edwards said. "It looks good, so we'll maybe bring that out in the middle of the season and see how that runs, too."

With the horsepower Edwards' car is producing, he's become at regular name the top of the qualifying ladder, which over the long haul will mean more points and better opportunities to go rounds and collect wins.

"It all adds up that's for sure. Anytime you can qualify up front, you've increased your odds," Edwards said. "That was one of the things we kept looking at (before starting the engine program). We'd go to these races trying to qualify, maybe go a round or two. Now you go to the race looking to qualify 1, 2, or 3 and maybe win the race. It's still a major task to win one of these races, but we're getting a better handle on it now."

EDWARDS PACES PRO STOCK

Written by Bobby Bennett, Jr; Photo by Marty Reger
Saturday, February 21, 2009

IIn the desert, one can easily confuse reality with a mirage.

That’s the excuse Mike Edwards could give for not making his way to the media center for his post-qualifying press conference following the first day of qualifying at the NHRA Lucas Slick Mist Nationals in Phoenix, Az.

The Coweta, Kan., driver of the Penhall/Young Life Pontiac drove his way to the quickest run in each of the two sessions on Friday, finishing the day with a track record 6.605-second run.

Heading into the race Edwards described Firebird International Raceway as one of the venues on the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle tour as “one that has stumped me over the years and I have never really got a solid handle on.”

Friday night he gripped that handle tightly and didn’t let go.

“Qualifying isn’t over yet, but at least we’re leading today and that means a lot. We really needed a run like we got on the first day.

“The first run I made didn’t feel like a No. 1 run but the second did. There are a lot of good teams out here that are capable of stepping up tomorrow with a good number.”

This season has begun with a blast for Edwards. Not only did he start off the season with a final round appearance in Pomona, but now he had the provisional No.1 qualifying effort to use as a pillow Friday night.

Not bad for a man, who could easily be construed as spread thin between maintaining his new in-house engine program and tending to newly signed engine lease customer Ron Krisher, who was seventh after two sessions.

“I am a little spread thin, but more importantly I am just trying to do the best that I can for both teams,” Edwards said. “We made a lot of headway on Friday and both of these cars have more left in them, especially Ron’s.

“For now, I am just going to celebrate our small victory today and be ready to battle it out tomorrow. You know how this Pro Stock class is. You’re on top one day and someone else can be there tomorrow.”

Mike Edwards
Firebird Int'l Raceway Facts and Figures

Best Qualifying Position: No. 1 (2001)
Best Finish: semifinals (2002, 2008)
Round record: 8-8
First year to compete: 1996 (first round)

Mike Edwards-Career Driver Breakdown
Quick facts on Mike against Pro Stock drivers

Mike Edwards has lined up against 61 different drivers.

Mike Edwards has competed in a total of 432 Pro Stock rounds

Mike Edwards has won a total of 224 rounds, marking if he wins the first round in Phoenix, he will reach 225 for his Pro Stock career

Mike Edwards has raced Jim Yates the most - a total of 40 times, including the second round at the Winternationals. He holds a 22-18 mark against the former NHRA champion.

In Phoenix, Mike Edwards has raced 13 different drivers, of which only three more than one time. He has beat Ron Krisher in the pairs two encounters, split with Jim Yates, and lost both battles with Bruce Allen. 

Firebird Int'l Raceway

Mike Edwards on the track: "It has been one that has stumped me over the years and I have never really got a solid handle on what needs to be done ot get our car down the track. It is a great setting, usually beautiful Arizona weather, and a track that produces near record numbers year-in and year-out, so I know it can be achieved."

2009 prognosis: "We are coming in this year with a head of steam after reaching the final in Pomona. The team - engine shop and the guys on the road - are working well together and when everything is clicking, the performance shows on the track. We are real high about our chances this year, the gang is making sure to get the car down the track, and when you do that fast, wins start rolling in."

Edwards Scores Runner-up Finish

Uses semifinal holeshot to oust one Summit car, but can't topple Line in money round

For the second time in his Pro Stock career, Mike Edwards picked up a season-opening runner-up finish when he came up just short against Jason Line in the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.

With rain washing out all but one qualifying session, Edwards powered his Young Life/ART Pontiac to the No. 4 spot with a respectable 6.62 during the lone shot Saturday morning. That is when the waiting game began as the Southern California area was hit with five days of rain that washed out all of qualifying prior on Thursday and Friday, eliminations on Sunday and the rescheduled finish on Monday.

With clear skies welcoming the racing on Tuesday, Edwards turned those perfect conditions into a great start to a 2009 campaign. He opened by squeaking by Greg Stanfield, and followed that by ousting former world champion Jim Yates. By moving into the final four, Edwards drew the one driver he has not had the best of success over the last few years, that being Greg Anderson. In the last six years, Edwards had beaten the multi-time champion only once, while falling to him more than a dozen time.

But Edwards pulled out his trusty starting-line talents and used a .008 light and 6.57 to stop Anderson, who the previous round recorded the quickest run in Pro Stock history, and make it two triumphs in the last three tries against Anderson.

In the final, Edwards couldn't stop both parts of the Summit camp as Line got the best of him, 6.56 to 6.57.

"If you would have told me that I would have opened the year with a runner-up finish, I would take that any time," Edwards said. "My whole team, from the guys at the engine shop to those at the track, did a phenomenal job in getting us ready for the season. We didn't get to test as much as we would have liked, but knew when we left Pomona in November we had team an engine program real close. Now, this time pulling out of California, as a group we feel confident that we have the whole package to be competitive all season and that gives us that extra little step to try even harder."

MEM