Edwards Hopes To Close 2011 On
Two-race Win Streak With Season-ending Pomona Title

After 10 months of racing, the NHRA Full Throttle season holds its final act this weekend at the Auto Club Finals in Pomona, and for Mike Edwards it will close a book on a season that to many in the sport would love to have, but for Edwards and his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries team it still has a few holes and some missed opportunities. With the last stop though, ending the season on a victory note, and an eight round winning streak helps make the winter months a bit easier to swallow.  

In 2011, Edwards has carded four victories, while being the No. 1 qualifier at a handful of the stops, but falling short in the championship race and a few events that they knew they should have grabbed the trophy, leaves that unfilled taste.  

"When you look at the season in the terms of what we have done, it has been a pretty spectacular year," Edwards admits. "We know we could have been better at certain points, but taken in the whole season four wins and being the first to run a sub 6.5 run help make it a season to remember." 

Edwards, who scored the title at the last stop in Las Vegas, wants to add one more trophy to the collection, not for himself, but for the entire team. "It has been a challenge to close out the year, and we finally saw some glimmer in Las Vegas of what we can do. Everyone around me has stayed strong and worked harder than ever, so the one way I know how to pay them back is to leave Pomona with the Wally and allow them to enjoy that hardware over the winter months." 

Edwards has performed well at fabled Pomona facility over his career, with a couple victories, a few other final-round finishes, and a stretch of runs late into eliminations, but none compares to the first time he competed at the track at the season-finale in 1996. 

It was his rookie year, and wanted to go out with a bang after scoring one of the best freshman campaigns in the sport. He did exactly that, scoring his third win of the season, becoming a member of the exclusive Pro Stock Six-Second Club, and in the process locked down the Rookie of the Year honor. 

"On our drive out here this weekend, we talked about that weekend in Pomona and how it seems like yesterday we were lining up for the final. It is one of those events I look back and to help me move forward today because the emotions stay with you and helps drive you even 15 years later," he said. "I would love to have that kind of finish again and be able to stand on the podium one last time in 2011."

EDWARDS WINS THE BATTLE IN VEGAS
Written by Bobby Bennett; Photos by Roger Richards   

Mike Edwards might have officially lost the war on Sunday in Vegas, but it didn’t keep him from taking home the trophy for winning the battle.

In a battle of pre-season series championship hopefuls, Edwards topped Allen Johnson in the Pro Stock final at the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals hosted by The Strip at Las Vegas. The victory marked the third win in Edwards' last four Vegas races and a sweep of NHRA events in the 2011 season at the facility.

Edwards admits even though his 2011 car is just as good as the 2009 championship winning ride, this season's biggest enemy was consistency.

“It just seems like the little things,” Edwards said. “We just couldn't get consistent. Couldn't make the car just go up and down the track like we did in 2009. We fought it. A lot of small things just went wrong – anywhere from a clutch grinder to a tire gauge. Every little bitty thing was just biting us a little bit. Then we ran really, really well in Phoenix and just missed it in the second round. Then we came here and tried to learn from our mistakes and we came through today.”

Edwards swept the field by qualifying No. 1 and running a 6.641-second pass at 208.20 mph to eclipse the 6.668, 208.01 effort turned in by Johnson.

“To win the race … to come out here an run really well, and qualify one … and then today to put four rounds together; we've been struggling to do that for the last six or seven races,” said Edwards. “It feels good to come out and finally win a race and hats off to all my guys who did a tremendous job.

“I want to say congratulations to Jason Line who did a fantastic job, so congratulations to him.”

Edwards has four victories in 2011.

Sunday in Vegas, a battle victory suited him just fine.

“Any time you can win one of these races it's a great feeling,” said Edwards. “Yeah, Jason won the championship but any time you have a chance to win a race in this class, it's so competitive, it feels good to win, to get back into the winner's circle. It's been awhile.”

Edwards Looks To Make Clean Sweep Of Las Vegas Stops

With a shot at second place in the NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock chase still on the line, Mike Edwards and the Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries team is looking to sweep the two races in Las Vegas in 2011.  

If Edwards can pull himself into the second spot when the season comes to a close, it will mark the second highest finish in Edwards' Pro Stock career. It would only trail his 2009 NHRA Pro Stock championship, and better his third-place finish in 1996. 

Edwards looks to the April stop in Las Vegas as the turning point in the year. After a slow start to the season, Edwards found his winning ways in the high desert of Las Vegas, capturing the crown, his first of the 2011 season, and second in three tries at the facility. That Wally, carried Edwards into a solid summer, which included two more wins, and pulled him into the NHRA Countdown To A Championship playoff. 

This trip, Edwards has resigned to the fact that Jason Line will collect his second NHRA Pro Stock championship, but with that one goal off the table, Edwards and his crew want to finish strong to claim second place, a position Edwards has never finished. 

"After how this season started and some of the struggles we've encountered, finishing second in the points would be a huge accomplishment," said Edwards, who has been forced to abort nine runs in eliminations this season, winning only one of those rounds. "Sitting only 20 points behind with two races to go, and coming to a track that has been good to us the last few trips, gives us that confidence.  

"We know we have to work on making four solid runs in eliminations to grab the fourth Wally of the year. We are going to focus into the areas that have troubled us and work on taking that negative and make it on of our strengths for the last two stops and into 2012." 

THE HOTTER THE BETTER FOR EDWARDS
Written by Tracy Renck; Photo by Roger Richards    Saturday, 15 October 2011 10:00   

When weather temperatures rise above 90 degrees, some NHRA pro drivers cringe.

Not Mike Edwards. Edwards, the 2009 Pro Stock world champ, felt right at home in the hot conditions at Firebird International Raceway Friday evening at the Arizona Nationals in Phoenix.

Edwards clocked a 6.642-second time at 209.10 mph to capture the provisional pole.

Edwards actually tied Jason Line for the top elapsed time, but took the No. 1 spot based on his mph compared to Line’s slower 207.21 mph.

“It was real toasty,” said Edwards about the temperature which was 92 degrees during the second round of qualifying when he recorded his top time. “I guess the one thing about is at least it is dry. Back at home (in Oklahoma) when it is 100 degrees it is really humid. This was a good first day, a good start. The track came around pretty good there in the night run. (Saturday) will be a different day, but hey we made two good runs, so hat’s off to my guys and will see what (Saturday) holds. We like these conditions. It seems like we run better when it is hot and I do not know why, I can’t explain that. For some reason it seems like we run a little bit better in the heat.”

 

Edwards Looks To Arizona Heat For Countdown Turnaround 

Looking back over the course of the last two seasons, Mike Edwards and his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries Pontiac has been a dominate force on the NHRA Pro Stock scene with the thermometer was hovering around the century mark. That trek record should bode well for the 2009 NHRA Pro Stock champion when the NHRA tour makes its fall stop in the desert outside Phoenix. 

"We have a real strong program in place when it gets hot and slick on the quarter-mile, and for us, this should help turned to our winning ways during the Countdown," said Edwards, who sits third in the NHRA Pro Stock countdown with only three races remaining. 

"It is going to be tough to chase down Jason Line for the championship, but we are not going to give up trying until the very end. If we can have a strong showing this weekend and Jason stumble, it will open the door slightly and give us that energy needed to make the final push." 

Edwards is entering the NHRA Arizona Fall Nationals as the pseudo reigning event champion. He won the spring race last season, which for 2011 has been moved to the fall, but will return to the spring in 2012.  

The irony of the victory was it happened nearly 3,000 miles east of Firebird Int'l Raceway. The 2010 version of the event was postponed, and the Pro Stock eliminations were moved to be run in conjunction with the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., and Edwards picked up the crown, downing Bob Yonke. 

"It is kind of weird being called the defending champ, when you did not win the race at the same track," Edwards admitted. "We want to come out this weekend and correct that little hiccup and actually win the Arizona Nationals in Arizona, so when we come back in five months, we can honestly feel like we are defending our title."

Edwards Hopes Reading Stop To Be Turning
Point In NHRA Pro Stock Championship Run
 

A victory at third race of the Countdown could help
get team back in hunt for second crown
 

With just four events remaining in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, Mike Edwards knows how important the third stop in the Countdown to a Champion playoff stops is in his quest to secure his second championship before the tour hits the finish line in Pomona.

Edwards is just 144 points behind leader Jason Line, and knows he must make final-round appearances the remaining events to have a chance. An early exit by Line and a victory at this weekend's 27th annual Auto Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway could place Edwards back into contention heading back west to close out the year in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Pomona.

"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 strong car in Dallas, but not exactly what we were hoping for coming up short in eliminations. 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 swing event in the chase. "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 - a second championship. All I know is I'm looking forward to it!"

Dallas Crucial Crossroads In NHRA Pro Stock Championship Run

A victory at second race of the Countdownwill go
long way toward possible second Pro Stock title
 

With the tour swinging to the Lone Star State and Texas Motorplex, outside Dallas, Edwards knows he needs to continue going late rounds, but feels that the only way to make sure the championship comes back to Oklahoma for a second time in his career, is he needs to collect the victory Wally.

 "We've had a solid race car all season, and know the only way to take advantage of the next five races in the Countdown is to win Wallys," Edwards reflected. "The first race in Charlotte, we had our problems in a few areas and we just need to get over that hump, because the only way to make sure the you win the championship and nobody can chase you down is winning. We do not want to leave anything to chance and rest our hopes on other people."

 The Dallas stop is an intriguing one on the tour for Edwards. It is known as the home of fast times and Edwards hopes to continue that trend.

 "If the conditions are right, Texas Motorplex has all the pieces in place that 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 nine of the 14 events he qualified, capturing the 1998 spring event title, and reaching the final in 1999, and 2006, and most recently, last season reaching the money round only to fall to eventual Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson.

 "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."

Start of NHRA Playoffs; Edwards Hope First Event Will Be Like 2009

For nearly eight months and 16 events, every NHRA Pro team has been working to be part of the Countdown to One NHRA playoff event that will determine the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock champion. Only 10 drivers made the field and all have their sites on kicking off the six-race playoff with a victory at the NHRA O'Reilly Auto PartsNationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte.

 For Mike Edwards and his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries team, his spot in the playoffs was secured for four races, allowing him and his team a chance to fine tune a few areas of the operation, which he hopes gives them an advantage in the chase for a second NHRA Pro Stock title.

 "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. "We have been running consistent and running near the front each qualifying session or elimination round, but we know to win the title you have to be the best each time down the track. We have used this time, especially since the U.S. Nationals, and burned the midnight oil working on the car, engines, and every aspect of the team, and as a group, we feel confident we have everything in place to make a run again this season." Team testing photo

To Edwards, this trip to Charlotte feels similar to the 2009 journey. It was also the start of the Countdown and Edwards sat No. 3 in points. "As a team, we have discussed that everything is in place just like 2009, and we need to capitalize on this opportunity to come out in Charlotte and be the best car and grab the early momentum and use that to our advantage the next couple weeks at races in Texas and Pennsylvania."

 With the points adjusted for the Countdown to One, Edwards sits in the third spot, trailing points leader Greg Anderson by 30 points and Jason Line by a mere 10 points.

 "If we can come out these next six races and do what we did in 2009 during the course of the Countdown when we won the Pro Stock championship, I know we can reach that ultimate goal we sat at the beginning of the year," said Edwards. "The entire team is focused and ready to go out and do all we can to win the championship."

Edwards Plan Is To Leave Indy As A Two-time U.S. Nats Winner

Since its inception, the Mac Tools NHRA U.S. Nationals has been the center-piece of NHRA and holds a special place in the sports lore. The one single event holds so much drag racing history - from its early days in the 1950s and 60s, to creating some of the biggest names in the 1970s and 80s, to the last two decades rich caveat of stories, the 57th annual trek to the NHRA showcase event, that every single competitor knows that it is the one stop that can make you a true drag racing legend. With all the spotlights on the tour stop at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Mike Edwards knows this is truly the event you want to put your best performance at the forefront.

 "So much emphasis has always been put on this one race," he said. "When I was lucky enough to win the event in 1998, 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 stops on the NHRA tour."

 To try and capitalize on the importance, Edwards and his Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac have been going non-stop since they lost early in Brainerd.

 "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 already have our place 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 second championship.

 "It would sure be nice heading into the playoffs with a second Indy trophy sitting nicely on my mantel at home."

 In recent trips, Edwards has come close. In 2008 he reached the semifinals, and backed that up in 2009 with the same performance. Last season, he took it a step further by reaching the final before falling to Greg Stanfield. During that run, Edwards has held the No. 1 qualifying position the last two seasons.

"We know we can run fast at Indy, and have always performed well throughout my career," he said. "We came close last year, and just missed getting that second trophy. I know I have the best team in Pro Stock and with all them focused on this one goal this weekend; I know we are more than ready to work our tails off to leave with the Wally."

Edwards To Carry Special A.R.T. Promotion At Indy

Mike Edwards Motorsports and Applied Racing Technology (A.R.T.) will celebrate the pair's long-standing relationship with a special promotion during the Mac Tools NHRA U.S. Nationals. The 2009 NHRA Pro Stock champion will carry a special offer on the back window of this Pontiac during the event for any fan that goes to www.appliedracing.com.  

ART - Indy designStarting on August 31, and running through Sept. 12, any person that goes to the company website and clicks on the special icon commemorating Edwards' 15th start as a Pro Stock driver at NHRA's biggest event will receive 10 percent off any purchase of in-stock items. 

"A.R.T. has stood by me through many years of the up and down roller coaster of my Pro Stock career and were a major part of us winning the championship in 2009," Edwards said. "This is a way for both of us to celebrate our marketing relationship that has strengthened over the years and be a way to get more fans of drag racing to the appliedracing.com website and help them grow the company even more." 

For Derek Steinbach, owner of A.R.T., the promotion has two purposes. "We look at this promotion as a way to bring Mike and his entire crew more recognition for the kind of people they are, and second, to invite new visitors to our website to see what ART offers to the racing public." 

Make sure to go to www.appliedracing.com during the U.S. Nationals and click on the special Mike Edwards icon.

Seattle Always A Fond Stop On Tour

The trip to Seattle has always been one of Mike Edwards favorite trips on the tour. It might have to do that it is one of the tracks that he's had the most success over his career. Edwards holds a .750 winning percentage at the track and a three victories in 1996, 1997, and 2009. 

"I don't know if it is the cooler temperatures, the great scenery, or just my comfort with the northwest, but I always feel relaxed at the Seattle race," Edwards admitted. "I think that goes a long ways in producing good results." 

The trip to the northwest also brings on end to the NHRA Western Swing, where Edwards has picked up a victory in Denver and followed it with a runner-up finish in Sonoma. The Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries team wants to wrap up the grueling three week run with a fourth title in Seattle, and strengthen their lead. K&N car  

"We came into these three races with a plan to work on being more consistent each run down the track and that philosophy has paid off big for us," Edwards said. "Now we need to continue that approach in Seattle and hopefully grab our fourth trophy of the season."

 With that steady pace, Edwards has climbed back atop the NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock standings for the first time in 2011. He leads Jason Line by 15 points and Greg Anderson by 21 points with three races left prior to the NHRA Countdown to One Playoff. 

"We achieved one of the goals of making the playoffs in Sonoma, now we are focused on getting the best race car we can have and go into the six-race dash with as much momentum as possible," he said. "That all starts this weekend in Seattle, where we can continue on the streak we are on and hopefully carry it to the end of the season and a second NHRA Pro Stock championship."

  Edwards Hopes To Back-up Denver Win With First Sonoma Trophy

The saying is, "When momentum is on your side, good things usually happen," and Mike Edwards and his team hope that holds true when the tour moves to Sonoma. After using a streak of consistent runs to walk away with the Wally at the first stop on the grueling three-race Western Swing, Edwards, with his new-look K&N/Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac, hopes history repeats itself.
 
Over his career, Edwards has gotten momentum behind him and rode that to numerous back-to-back victories, and at minimum late round runs. "Some times you just get on a role and everything just clicks," Edwards said. "It is not that you are doing anything different, but as a driver I feel the confidence is there and the crew has that taste still, and so you just know you can get the job done." 

After capturing the Denver title, Edwards hopes to add a first Sonoma trophy to his collection, and keep the chance of a Western Swing sweep alive. "This has been a major hit or miss stop for us," he admitted. 

The twist, on the Western Swing, the Sonoma stop has been the one race where Edwards has never really shined. He has won titles in Seattle and Denver, but when it comes to the California stop, nothing has worked the same. 

"We have made a couple finals, and should have been in a couple others, and maybe even won the event, but we have never had that comfort with this track like we do at the other two on the Western Swing," Edwards admitted. "We are taking a little different approach this time and we hope at the end, the results will be in our favor and I can add a Sonoma trophy to the mantle.  

"So, I hope what started in Denver carries over to this weekend and we can make another trip to the winner's circle." If Edwards does walk away with the Wally, it will mark the 15th different track on the NHRA tour he was done so. 

Currently Edwards sits in second place in the NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock points, trailing points leader Jason Line by a mere six points. 

"It is amazing we are sitting this close to the points lead and that is a testament to the hard work my guys have put in," said Edwards, who will clinch a spot in the NHRA playoffs by qualifying in Sonoma. "We got out the gates slow to start the season, and have worked our tails off to put ourselves in position to battle for the championship. We just need to keep that old friend momentum in our camp for a few more races and see what happens at the end."

Edwards Teams With K&N For Sonoma & Seattle

For the last two legs of the Western Swing in Sonoma and Seattle, former Pro Stock champ Mike Edwards will pull to the line with a break from his well-known red and gray design to fly a new graphic design to recognize his partnership with K&N Filters.

K&N wrap"It's been great to represent K&N for the past two seasons as a partner with our race team," Edwards said. "Our marketing partnership has grown during that time, and we have put together a program for the Sonoma and Seattle stops to allow K&N to have a major representation on our Pontiac. As a team, we are proud to be associated with such a reputable company and be a major component in K&N's strategic plan of marketing its products in the drag racing arena."

The Pontiac GXP will be decked out with the K&N logo prominent on the door, with the company's distinct color stripes running the length of the car, all on a black canvas provided by 1320 Wraps by Fineline.

"We work closely with the entire Pro Stock field through many of our programs, including the K&N Horsepower Challenge," said Steve Williams, vice president of K&N Filters. "A few of the teams we have an even deeper relationship with through our engineering branch. Working with Mike and his entire crew has helped us in many areas, and he is one of the true professionals in the sport.

"We all know how good of a driver and tuner Mike is based on his record, but he is truly one of the best ambassadors for Pro Stock and drag racing for his work ethic and wanting to help move the sport forward and makes it a pleasure to be associated with.

"Through this relationship, we worked on doing a specialized design for select events to help our marketing campaign and to help further Mike and his team's shot at another championship," Williams continued. "We are excited with the look he will roll out and fits what our company is trying to promote. Nothing would be better than for Mike to roll it into the winner's circle in Sonoma and Seattle."

Edwards has the same hopes for the new look. "We will hit Sonoma and Seattle with the new design and plan to carry K&N to a couple of winner's circles," he said. "As a team, we are excited to do this for K&N and want to do them proud on the West Coast."

Edwards Is The King Of Mopar Mountain For 365 Days

High upon Mount Olympus, there was a throwdown.

By his own admission, Pro Stock racer Mike Edwards said the starting line staging duel between himself and Allen Johnson at the Mopar NHRA Mile-High Nationals wasn't a battle of Pro Stock God's. His assessment was that it was nothing more than “an old redneck” and “a hillbilly” having fun.

Regardless of how Edwards categorizes the final round combatants, those who know Pro Stock considered the match to be a battle of the titans. In the final round, Johnson flinched, and fouled, handing the Edwards his second Pro Stock victory at Bandimere Speedway.

“We might walk away with the Wally but Allen Johnson is still the king of this mountain,” Edwards said. “It’s so sweet to race up here. The Bandimere Family does such a great job with this track and the Mopar people do just a great job with this race.”

Edwards seemed unbeatable on Friday, storming to the top of the provisional qualifying list.

Then Johnson, in what could be considered an incredible display of Mopar horsepower, flexed his muscles en route to a No. 1 qualifying position in the midst of unenviable atmospheric conditions.

Race day opened and Johnson stormed to the low elapsed time of the first round [6.962] and a round later established a track elapsed time record [6.955].

At this point, it looked like the rest of the field was jockeying for second place.

Not Edwards. He toiled away with a consistent run to the final round, posting consistent runs of 6.966, 6.974 and another 6.974. The 6.974 might as well have been the stone the biblical figure David selected to slay the giant Goliath.

“I was really shocked,” Edwards said of earning lane choice.

Biblical stories aside, Edwards, just like his sponsor Penhall Construction knows how to take the seemingly insurmountable odds and make stuff happen. On Friday, Penhall led a team that dismantled a bridge on the 405 Freeway outside of Los Angeles and replaced it with a new one by Sunday morning. The project ended 12 hours ahead of schedule.

“I’m so proud of them,” Edwards said. “I’m so proud to be associated with such a great company. All the employees, everybody … I am so proud to be associated with them.”

But in the end, Edwards heaped praise on his driving force.

“I give the praise and glory to my God, because it’s all about him,” Edwards said.

Team Begins Pivotal Three-race Western Swing;
Denver
Plays Key Role In Push To Countdown

For Mike Edwards and the rest of the team, the next three weekends could help them solidify their place in Pro Stock 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 captured two wins thus far in 2011, Edwards knows the Western Swing through Denver, Sonoma, and Seattle, can be the difference in a championship run when the calendar changes to September and October. 

"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 are 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 o 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 Parts Mile-High 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 and its 5,800-foot above sea level facility."

 In the year's past, Edwards has had his share of lock on the mountain, including a victory in 2002. In 2010, all things seemed lined up for another title run. Edwards qualified in the No. 4 position, and the Pontiac GXP was working exactly as planned in qualifying, but in the second round, an uncharacteristic red-light stopped the run.

 "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."

Chicago Post-Race

Qualifying Notes

Mike Edwards wheeled his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batterties Pontiac to the No. 6 spot. His 6.614 from the Friday night sessionwas his best hit, but nearly equalled that on the last qualifying attempt.

Elimination Notes

From the No.6 position, Mike Edwards opened competition against Kurt Johnson. With lane choice, Edwards had the better light and with his better light and his 6.66 to dispose of Kurt Johnson's 6.68. For the sixth time in his pro stock career, Edwards carded a perfect light in the second round against Erica Enders, but as quickly as he gained a four-hundreths lead, it evaporated when the transmission deadheaded, and forced Edwards to abandon the run. "We were in a position to win the race," Edwards said. "But something let go in the transmission and that was the end of the story. That is a tough way to lose when a part breaks and leaves you helpless. It will just put a little more fight in us heading into the Western Swing."

Edwards Looking For Repeat At Route 66 And Points Boost 

Mike Edwards returns to Route 66 Raceway, outside of Chicago, one of the eight events he scored a victory at in 2010, to defend his title.

"It is always fun to come back to a track and try to defend that title," he said. "Last year I was lucky enough to score a win at Route 66 Raceway, making it the second time I left with that cherished Wally from the track," Edwards said. "It never hurts in the confidence level when you come back to a track you tasted victory at last time you were there." 

Edwards has two wins, Las Vegas and Bristol, thus far in 2011, and each have come at tracks he was defending the titles he won in 2010. Edwards hopes Route 66 can get him on a roll for like it did during the 2010 season. It was part of his run of winning six races in seven events he captured the title, and part of his 12 events that he earned the No. 1 qualifying position, and basically helped him lock up the regular season Pro Stock title going into the playoffs. 
  
  Edwards is also trying to pull back into the points lead for the first time this season. He trails Jason Line by 49 points, or just over two rounds of racing. 

"We have been working so hard to get back to the top," Edwards said. "After how the season started with the major bumps at the first couple races, I never thought we would be in position to even challenge until the NHRA playoffs. But my guys have dug deep and we are making strides to reach one of the goals prior to the season, be the top seed again come the playoffs. 

"I hope Route 66 can help us move down that course again with a second straight victory," he added. "I want to be able to look back on this weekend and realize it is where we started our march to the 2011 NHRA Pro Stock championship."

After Bristol Victory, Edwards Hopes To Continue
Roll With A Couple Of Titles In Norwalk

With his recent triumph in Bristol - his third straight victory in a row at the facility, second of the season, and 30th of his Pro Stock career - Edwards is hoping that the team has found its stride and will try to do the rare double in Norwalk.  

Now with the tour stop at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, Edwards has a chance to add a third victory of the season and continue his move toward the points lead, which he trails Jason Line by a mere 24 points. At the same time, Edwards hopes to collect an extra bonus with the race-within-a-race K&N Horsepower Challenge. 

"Norwalk is a big event for our team," Edwards said. "Now that we are back in the win column, we do not want it to stop, so we are focused on getting another Wally and on Saturday grabbing our first K&N Horsepower Challenge. It is a special day for Pro Stock as we get to showcase this class on a different stage and with K&N on board, it makes it an even bigger deal for us." 

To qualify for the K&N Horsepower Challenge it is based on qualifying at the events between the 2010 Norwalk stop and ended with Bristol qualifying last week. Edwards, based on his steady qualifying effort during the stretch will start from the No. 3 spot and face Rodger Brogdon in the opening frame. 

"It is such a huge honor to be part of this race," he said. "It is solely based on how you qualify over the course of an entire season and it is an added benefit to the season for the seven teams who have been consistent throughout, and for one who gets the special nod from the fans. The weird twist, the event is an odd situation knowing who we will be racing, but at a point, that does not matter as we need to go out and do our job and things will fall into place." 

If Edwards scores his first K&N Horsepower Challenge and its $50,000 pay day, he will be shooting for an even bigger prize on Sunday. NHRA offers a double-up bonus to any racer that can win both the Challenge on the Norwalk Pro Stock title. 

"It is easy to see why my guys will be working their tails off all weekend," Edwards admitted. "We have these huge carrots dangling out in front of us and we want to make sure we are the one that leaves with the fancy checks and that Wally.  

"The thing is, there are seven other racers trying to achieve the same goal with the bonuses, and a whole slew of other racers trying to stop our run come Sunday. We look forward to the challenge."

EDWARDS GRATEFUL FOR THIRD STRAIGHT BRISTOL VICTORY

The Pro Stock final ensured that the fans who sat in the rain-rinsed bleachers Sunday for the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at historic Bristol Dragway would see some more drag-racing lore unfold.

Erica Enders was on the verge of becoming the first female Pro Stock driver to win, and Mike Edwards was shooting for a more personal feat of winning for the third straight time at the same venue.

Edwards denied Enders her first victory and NHRA fans the chance to see the class gender barrier broken. He won with a 6.685-second elapsed time on the quarter-mile at 205.79 mph in his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries Pontiac, as her ZaZa Energy Cobalt lost traction just after she got the jump on him at the Christmas Tree. She cut a .040 light, while he had what he called a "comatose, dead-late" .093.

"Erica, she's going to win soon," Edwards said. "She had me whupped. She had me beat there, for sure. I don't know what happened to her."


Enders took the disappointment in stride.

Elimination Notes:

For the 30th time in his professional career, third consecutive time at Bristol Dragway, and second of the 2011 season, Mike Edwards has walked away with the NHRA Pro Stock Wally.
  
"This is just an awesome feeling to say I am undefeated at this awesome Bristol facility for three straight years or 12 rounds of competition; it is hard to put into words."
  
Edwards started his run from the No. 2 position against Richard Freeman, who upset him at the Topeka stop. No early exit was in the cards this time, as Edwards powered to an easy 6.70 to 6.73 win.
  
Waiting was Rookie of the Year candidate Vincent Nobile, who Edwards raced in the Las Vegas final. As was the case in the desert, Edwards pulled of the second round win, with a stellar .010-second reaction that was coupled to a 6.69.
  
The road did not get any easier in the semifinals, as Edwards drew defending NHRA champion Greg Anderson. Edwards scored a spot in the title bout with a 14-thousandths victory.
  
The final matched Edwards against Erica Enders, the only female competiting in NHRA Pro Stock, who was looking for her first national-event win. The race was over early as Enders had trouble and opened the door for Edwards to secure his third straight in Bristol.
  
"I cannot say enough of how hard my team has worked the last few weeks trying to get us back in a position to get back to victory lane," Edwards said. "I feel for Erica, she was running great and deserves to win one of these events. Her time will come and when it does, we all need to watch out.
  
"To think I have 30 of these NHRA Wallys in Pro Stock is just a huge accomplsihment," he added. "It seems like yesterday when we got the first, and it was in 1996. You never get used to holding one of these trophies, because you never know which one will be your last. I just hope I have a few more that are planning to go home with us this year."

Edwards Plans To Continue Recent Fortunes At Fabled Englishtown

During the first 11 trips to Englishtown and Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Mike Edwards did not have any good fortunes on his side, scoring only three round wins, and those all coming in 1998 when he was runner-up.

But those misfortunes have swung the opposite direction the last three trips to New Jersey as the Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries-backed squad has compiled nine round wins. In 2008, Edwards reached the semifinals, to do it one better in 2009, and then topped that in 2010 with his first victory at the fabled facility.

"When you lay it out like that, this place did not like me for a long time, and then all of sudden it changed and I have been on its good side," Edwards said. "That the track has been around for nearly as long as drag racing, maybe it forces all of us to pay our dues before it begins rewarding us with trophies. I just hope that since we opened that portion last year, the hardware keeps flowing our direction."

Edwards and his Pontiac have started to build the momentum they have been hoping for heading into the summer months of the NHRA Full Throttle season. In the recent events, he has qualified No. 1 at a couple stops and reached the semifinals at a couple others. He knows now is the time to turn that consistency into something more - victories.

"It is all well and good to be fast in qualifying and then come Sunday be consistent, but not strong enough to get over the hump into the final and have a shot at the Wally," Edwards said. "Since Topeka, that is what we have focused on, being faster when it comes to eliminations. We think we have fixed a few things and straightened out a couple other things that will allow us to reach that goal. Now we just need it to translate into a summer run."

Edwards comes into the event in fourth place in the Pro Stock standing, trailing leader Jason Line by 105 points with nine races remaining in the regular season points battle.

EDWARDS CLOSE TO PRO STOCK MOMENTUM
Written by Bobby Bennett; Photo by Roger Richards    Saturday, 21 May 2011

NHRA Pro Stock racer Mike Edwards has learned about the intricacies of momentum.

Have it, Edwards will attest, and you can win eight races in a regular season. Lose it, and you’ll just lose, as Edwards did race after race in 2010’s six-race playoff season.

Edwards has been careful about proclaiming the “m” word but after a provisional No. 1 qualifying effort at the NHRA Summer Nationals following a top effort last weekend in Commerce, he’s starting to hint a little.

“We’re building momentum, we really are,” Edwards said.
“We’ve been running a lot – testing. We feel like we are getting better. We still need to work some more on certain areas. We’re definitely making gains.”

Edwards ran a 6.640, 207.05 to drive around Allen Johnson’s 6.651, 206.67 to climb atop the field with two sessions remaining on Saturday at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas.

While the losses were ugly in the latter part of 2010, Edwards admitted the shortcomings only inspired his crew for 2011.

“I think it just goes to show how good of a team we have,” Edwards said. “We had a good season but stomped our toe when it came time for the Countdown. We rebounded after Pomona and that is a sign of a good team. I think we have to stay buckled down and keep working hard. The season is young and if I learned anything last year, it’s not how you start but how you finished that counts.”

Heartland Park Topeka has been especially kind to Edwards with back-to-back No. 1 qualifiers and final round appearances.

“I guess the key is that we’re close to Oklahoma,” Edwards said. “There are some tracks you go to where you just feel comfortable. This is one of those strips where we feel like we have a pretty good handle.”

Just to think, he had some performance in reserve on a run which could be categorized as impressive.

“I feel like we left a little out there,” Edwards admitted. “But it was still good enough to run No. 1. I’m proud of my guys.”

Edwards Hopes So-called Home Event In
Topeka Will Have Repeat Result of 2010

When Mike Edwards and his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries team left Heartland Park of Topeka facility in 2010, they were in the midst of one of the best runs in Pro Stock's recent history, as it was one of the markers in the summer victory march.
 
This time around, the only thing the team is looking for is to secure that milestone 30th NHRA Wally at what all of them call the team's home national-event facility.

"It is the closest track to the Tulsa area where all our family and friends live, so they make the couple hour drive north every year to be able to see us race in person," Edwards said. "That makes the Topeka stop a special place for all of us because it allows us to be surrounded by those who love and support us, which I think takes some of the pressure away in some regard because of the comfort you have. It also adds a bit of pressure because you do not want to dissapoint everyone that took time away from their lives to watch you race."

Whatever the formula is, it must work for Edwards and the team because they always seem to shine in the Kansas sun. Edwards has been part of a handful of finals at the track, capturing the title in 1999, from the No. 16 spot, and then last year from the pole.

"I can say I have won this race from both ends of the spectrum," he said. "In 1999, that was one of those race days you could do no wrong from the starting line to making the right calls on the track. It meant a lot because I did something nobody before did, and that was win from the No. 16 posiition." He defeated Troy Coughlin in the final on a holeshot.
 
Then in 2010, Edwards qualified on the pole and marched to the final, only to use another starting-line holeshot to capture the victory over Allen Johnson, who upset Edwards the previous year in the money round.
"Topeka usually comes down to who does better at the start, because the track is very consistent throughout the weekend," Edwards said. "I just need to do my job like I did in the couple years I've won, and I can even out my Pro Stock trophy collection at No. 30."

Edwards Hopes Atlanta Returns His Winning Ways 

After missing the final at the last two stops on the Full Throttle NHRA tour, Mike Edwards and his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries team want to get back to winning events. 

"The last two races have not unfolded as we had hoped coming off the win in Las Vegas," Edwards said. "We were fast during the four-wide racing in Charlotte, but it did not translate into a win. Then in Houston, we were close to where we needed to be, but came up short in the semifinals." 

In Atlanta, Edwards' strategy is to find the form that carried him to back-to-back victories in 2008 and 2009 at Atlanta Dragway, and start building momentum as they head into the heated part of the NHRA schedule. Edwards knows this is the time of the year that you better be on the top of your game because there is very little time to test and fix issues, with three races in four weeks. 

The twist, on the next few events, they are all stops that Edwards has done well in recent history. 

"We are hoping that Atlanta kicks off the run for us to get back in the points chase and possibly a run at the top spot come time for the NHRA playoffs," Edwards said. "With Topeka and Englishtown waiting in the wings, it is tracks that we have had success in the past and only helps us know we can build some momentum heading into the summer events." 

Las Vegas

Edwards Returns To Winner's Circle

For Mike Edwards the trip to Las Vegas achieved exactly what he set out to do on Friday, get his team back on-track and leave with the NHRA Wally. Edwards behind the wheel of his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries Pontiac claimed his first Pro Stock win of the season and second straight at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway spring event by defeating rookie and first time finalist Vincent Nobile, 6.695, 205.98 to 6.713, 205.69.  

The victory, which is the 29th in NHRA Pro Stock and 31st overall, moves Edwards to fourth place in the point standings and helps erase a slow start to the season, which included a DNQ at Pomona.

  "We started off pretty slow and pretty bad for us really," the 2009 world champ said. "We regrouped and came in here with a new car and made some tremendous runs all weekend. It's a total team effort. My guys did an awesome job all weekend. They gave me 110 percent and they never quit. I am so proud of them. It's a great win and we want to try to build on this and try to improve as much as we can and keep trying to run good and make good decisions."

 Edwards, made a clean sweep of the event by qualifying No. 1, running low e.t. of each of the qualifying and elimination rounds, that was reminscent of his last win at Bristol nearly 10 months earlier.

 "It has been a long dryspell, but how we performed this weekend gives us all the confidence in the world heading to North Carolina in a couple weeks," he said. "It has been a test of our patience and strength as a team to get this ship righted.

 Edwards defeated Richard Freeman, Erica Enders and V. Gaines in the first three rounds.  He said his car slowed a bit in the final and he was lucky to take the win over Nobile.

 "We were fortunate in the final because we made our worst run of the day," Edwards said. "That Vincent Nobile is going to be quite a Pro Stock driver and he's a super talent. He's going to win some races and give us old guys a run for the money, I can tell you that."

PRO STOCK LEADER EDWARDS EAGER TO 'START SEASON'
Written by Susan Wade    Sunday, 03 April 2011 09:00   

On the playground, children have do-overs. On the golf course, duffers have mulligans.
 
Mike Edwards, No. 1 Pro Stock qualifier for the SummitRacing.com Nationals, joked Saturday that he wishes the NHRA had something like that, at least at the start of this season.
 
Some set-up problems of his own, coupled with a weather-related cancellation of his final chance to make the Winternationals field, ruined the beginning of the 2009 champion's  season. A snafu with the Christmas tree at the Gatornationals in the second round slapped him with some more disappointing results.
 
So it's no wonder Edwards said at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway he'll just behave as though he'll "get the year started in the third race of the season instead of the first race of the season."
 
His 6.695-second pass at 206.51 mph ensured he would hold onto this first top-qualifying performance of 2011, the 35th of his career, and his third at this race and fourth overall at Las Vegas.
 
It also left Edwards the only driver in the class to record a sub-6.7-second run. Driving the Penhall-K&N-Interstate Pontiac GXP, he held off two-time winner Jason Line, who registered a 6.707 and Allen Johnson, who shared a 6.711 E.T. with Ron Krisher but had the only other speed in the 206-mph range.
 
"We had four solid runs down the track," Edwards said. "It's something to build on. It was really important to come in here and run good. We've run good here in the past. Hat's off to all my guys and all the people who support us -- the Penhall Company, the Interstate people, K&N, and all the great folks who stood behind me so much for the last four or five years."
 
Edwards closed Friday's qualifying with a 6.709-second E.T. and a top speed of 206.26 mph that observers called "vintage Mike Edwards." Although he went out Saturday morning and improved both time and speed, he said he wasn't all that thrilled with his performances in the final two sessions.
 
"I thought we ran better the first day than we actually did today," he said. "We ran good today, but not quite as well. I thought the track might be a little bit better than it was this morning, and we kind of missed it. All in all, we're really pleased."
 
Particularly typical of the Vegas vibe, eliminations will be a crapshoot, he indicated. That's thanks to a forecast of considerably cooler temperatures.
 
"Everybody's going to run better. As the track temperatures go down, our 60-foots go up. Everybody's going to run better, that's for sure."
 
The trick for him, he said, is he has "just got to make lot bigger adjustments than we made today, for sure, because the track's going to get a lot cooler. Hopefully we can adjust and make the right decisions."
 
That change in temperature will help with both traction and horsepower, Edwards said. The unhappy news is that it will do so for all of his rivals, too.
 
"These things are aspirated. They breathe what we breathe," he said. "If the air's cooler, they run better. The track is better. That's good for everybody."
 
That includes the Top Fuel and Funny car classes, too, he said -- and the fans in the stands who will have braved uncommon heat, high winds, and now a cold snap this weekend.
 
"The track conditions are huge for all of us -- even the fuel cars," Edwards said. "They'll be outstanding tomorrow. So it’s going to be a great show for the fans, that's for sure."
 
And maybe it'll be the unofficial start to an outstanding season for Edwards.

 

NHRA: KRISHER/EDWARDS WAS APPARENT HUMAN ERROR
Written by Tracy Renck    Saturday, 02 April 2011 11:00

For the first time since the Ron Krisher – Mike Edwards delayed tree snafu at the NHRA Gatornationals, the NHRA’s Graham Light commented on what could have happened in the controversial incident.

The tree finally activated more than two seconds after all four stage bulbs were lit. In a typical race, once both racers light all four stage lights, the starter's job, in this case Rick Stewart’s job, is to flip the switch and activate the tree.

Both drivers said at the time they believed they were victims of human error.
Graham Light, the NHRA’s senior vice president-racing operations, confirmed to CompetitionPlus.com presented by Attitude Apparel Friday the NHRA has looked into the March 13 incident.

“The best we can tell it was a long light, longer than normal,” Light said. “It looks like there was a human error on our side. We (also) got the timing manufacturer involved and got his opinion.”

Although the error occurred, Light said re-doing the race between Krisher and Edwards would have been challenge.

“You have some real challenges with re-running because it takes an hour for them to turn the car around, 45 minutes at the absolute quickest,” Light said. “That effects TV schedules, the on-site presentation to the spectators and is it fair to the other competitors? It’s a real challenge to do that. There is no set time for the tree to fire. Obviously that one was much later than normal, but the fact is that the tree fired and turned amber and green and one car left. It’s unfortunate, but you just really can’t go and undo it.”

Krisher knows now there’s nothing he can do about the mistake that was made.

“What are you going to do?” Krisher said Friday. “You can’t go back and change it. You can’t get mad about it. Initially your mad; the way I see it I had a chance at lane choice (in the next round), and I had no data from that run because we left it at half throttle. It hurt us, but how do you fix it? If you look on the ticket, you can tell what happened. He (Rick Stewart) didn’t have it on auto start and he let us stage and he forgot to flip the button for awhile, an hour or so, before the auto start came on.

“Mike (Edwards) shut his (car) off and I was backing down and the light came on and I went. We had the same thing happen in Topeka (Kan.) last year between Mike and I. I had a redlight against him because we sat there through one of those, whatever it was. I’ve not only had this happen twice in less than a year, but twice against Mike.”
At Topeka last year, Krisher lost to Edwards in the semifinals at the NHRA Summer Nationals. Edwards clocked a 6.725-second time with a .012 reaction time. Krisher came in at 6.735 seconds, but had a -.309 reaction time.

“I do not know why it isn’t on auto start all the time up there (at the starting line),” Krisher said. “I do not know why they would be screwing with a manual thing. They have a button they can manually stage you, and then flip to autostart.”

Edwards has come to the conclusion he has to just live with his bad luck at Gainesville.

“Unfortunately for me, there is no way for me that I can correct it,” Edwards said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. The tree just wasn’t turned out. There are a lot of ways to lose out there, but it is unfortunate you have to lose like that. I never got an opportunity to make a run. I shutoff and I actually broke a retainer. It cost me financially to fix my motor, plus I lost the round. I do not know if I could have beat Ron, but I would have liked to have a shot at it.

“It really cost Ron lane choice for the next round because he made such a terrible run. It was pretty much a bad situation and I just hope it doesn’t happen to me again. You have to ask them (NHRA) how to correct it. I say turn the switch on.”

 

Edwards Comes To Vegas As Defending
Pro Stock Champ And Looking For More

One of the luxuries of NHRA is that when you score a victory at an event and leave with the Wally, you have an entire year to savor that win before you return to the site of the crime. Mike Edwards returns to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, one of the eight events he scored a victory at in 2010, to defend his title.

"It is always fun to come back to a track and try to defend that title," he said. "When you pull back into the facility, it floods you with all those fond memories of victory and it rekindles your drive because you want that feeling again."

Edwards hopes Las Vegas can get him on a roll for like it did during the 2010 season. It was part of his run of winning six races in seven events he captured the title, and part of his 12 events that he earned the No. 1 qualifying position, and basically helped him lock up the regular season Pro Stock title going into the playoffs. 

Gainesville, we were doing almost everything right, but it just hasn't turned into a win," Edwards commented. "Maybe all it is going to take is return to Las Vegas, where last year I ended some of my worst luck at the track when I left with the Wally."

Edwards does have some history on his side of being repeat champion. He pulled off the feat early in his career when he won the Seattle stop both in 1996 and 1997, and did it again in 2008 and 2009 in Atlanta, and last was in Bristol in 2009 and 2010. 

 "I remember the Seattle events that like they were yesterday," he recalled. "That was an awesome feeling and made us feel like we belong in Pro Stock. The Atlanta double was what helped kick start our in-house engine program and helped lead us to our first NHRA championship. And the Bristol double came last year as part of what is easily the best seven race run I could ever imagine having in Pro Stock.

"When we came back the second year I didn't feel like anybody could beat us and that is how I approached the race and it turned out to be great weekend. I'm taking the same approach this weekend and hope to have the same outcome."

"I hope Las Vegas can have memories like those," he said. "I want to be able to look back on this weekend and realize it is where we started our march to the 2011 NHRA Pro Stock championship."

 

DRIVERS BELIEVE HUMAN ERROR IN RD. 2 PS INCIDENT
by Bobby Bennett

During the second round of Pro Stock eliminations at the NHRA Gatornationals, Mike Edwards and Ron Krisher pre-staged and staged as they brought up the rpms on their cars.

And then they waited.

And they waited some more.

More than two seconds later, they were still waiting for the tree to activate.

Finally a weary Krisher left, after nearly rolling the beams, while Edwards just lifted off the throttle fearing every rod and piston in his engine was about to vacate the block.

According to Edwards, and his computer graph, he was on the “chip” for 2.8 seconds, well over the 1.10 seconds deemed to be the Pro Stock maximum on the NHRA’s random tree system aimed at preventing drivers from “guessing” the timing or developing a routine for better reaction times.

In a typical race, once both racers light all four stage lights, the starter's job, in this case Rick Stewart’s job, is to flip the switch and activate the tree.

Both drivers said they believe they were victims of human error. The NHRA informed CompetitionPlus.com they are looking into a possible equipment malfunction.

“We were told nonchalantly that we should have left on the amber,” said Edwards’ crew chief Terry Adams. “It’s a wonder we had any rods and valves left in the engine.”

Edwards studied his computer graph and with each glance, shook his head.

“We were fortunate we didn’t lose an engine because someone didn’t turn the tree on or it malfunctioned or whatever,” Edwards said. “I just know you can’t sit there for that long with these motors wide open. Or at least, I’m not going to. Some of these other guys might. I’m not going to abuse my engine like that.”

Edwards wouldn’t outright say he felt cheated but confirmed something was definitely different in the routine. He confirmed he was on wide open throttle in his first round matchup for eight tenths of a second.

Krisher, deemed the winner in his most difficult race of the day, backed up Edwards evaluation of the situation.

“I was on it for about two-and-a-half seconds,” confirmed Krisher. “The average time is about three-quarters of a second. I have no idea how it got to where it got to. None.”

Krisher said the NHRA offered no explanation nor did he ask for one.

“I was one hundred percent all for a re-run,” said Krisher. “I didn’t feel right about it. I was off the gas and started to roll the lights. I rolled as far as I could without red-lighting. It was .07 after I left that the pedal was back on the floor. I was just flabbergasted.”

Crewmembers asked starting line officials for an explanation at the time of the incident.

“They told us it was a delay in the start of the tree,” Krisher said. “There ain’t that long of a delay. I’ll tell you what I think happened. I saw the bulb blink and the tree came on. I think he [starter Rick Stewart] didn’t have it in auto-start. When he realized what had happened, he flipped the switch and the lights came on. I’ll bet you all the tea in China, that’s what happened. I feel like crap that this happened.”

Gainesville Day 1 Qualifying Notes

Mike Edwards and his Penhall/Interstate Batteries/K&N Pontiac made history in the first qualifying session at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. As the third pair out in the qualifying session, Edwards blasted to a 6.496, 213.47, becoming the first driver in NHRA Pro Stock history to eclipse both the 6.4 and the 213 mph barrier.
 
"All I can say is that was an incredible run," Edwards added. "To run a 6.49 and at over 213 mph in a Pro Stock car is quite a rush and is hard to explain. This is the best medicine any of us could ask for.
  
"In my first few years in Pro Stock, we were shooting to break the six-second barrier and the 200-mph mark, and we thought that was the plateau. Now we are running these types of numbers, it goes to show how much we knew back then."
  
Prior to the run, Edwards held the NHRA national e.t. record at 6.509, which he set nearly 18 months earlier. After the session, in all five drivers had posted runs quicker than the previous record.
  
"All I can say, it was near perfect conditions and we made a near perfect run. Now we just need to keep it going for seven more runs."

Edwards Looks For Rebound In Florida

Since the cancellation of the last qualifying session at the NHRA Winternationals that left Mike Edwards and his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries team on the outside of the 16-car field for the first time in more than 70 races, Edwards and his crew have been working non-stop to have a better outcome at the NHRA Gatornationals this weekend in Gainesville, Fla.Edwards 2011 haas

"Well I can honestly say that it has been some of the toughest weeks since I moved into Pro Stock full-time in 1996," Edwards admitted. "That DNQ in Pomona was so unexpected. We prepared all off-season for that event, and things just didn't work as we hoped. The weather gave us only two shots and we missed the setup both times and the only thing we could do is load up head home and start a new.

Part of that, is breaking out a new Jerry Haas-built Pontiac. The team picked up the new car on Friday, and worked feverishly throughout the weekend getting the car ready to bring to Florida.

 

"The guys in the shop are just amazing," Edwards said. "They went way above anything anybody should do to make sure this car would be ready to bring out this weekend."Edwards 2011 Haas 2

The team was able to make some test runs before heading to Gainesville and feel good about the future. "We know we have a long way to go to be as comfortable with this car as we were with our old car that brought us so many good times at the quarter-mile, but we can see its promise and can only move forward."

Edwards will debut the new car when Pro Stock hits the quarter-mile for two qualifying sessions on Friday and again on Saturday, looking to start a new streak of competing on Sunday.

"That is our goal, to get back in the show and start moving in that direction and building momentum back that was sucked out of us in Pomona."

Edwards Ready For A New Year With High Hopes

In what has been a quiet off-season for Mike Edwards and his Penhall/K&N/Interstate team, the 2009 Pro Stock Champion can only say one thing when asked about the 2011 campaign, "We're ready!"

For Edwards, who had the most wins in 2010 with eight and the most final-round appearances with 12, he looks at the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season as a chance to do something special. As the defending Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals Pro Stock champ, he is looking for the same start this campaign based on all the off-season work.

"This has been a real busy winter for us," Edwards explained. "The dyno has been running non-stop at the shop in North Carolina trying to find that exstra power we need. In Oklahoma, that side of the team has worked countless hours getting everything else ready for a run at the championship. I am so proud ofhow hard all the guys have been working to get this team back on top. That has been the focus of the off-season and we are ready to see it pay off."

Edward and the team have not been out pounding the pavement in testing like many of their couterparts. That is one side of the equation that Edwards hopes does not slow them out of the gate in Pomona.

"With a new Pontiac we wanted to make a few more hits, but that wasn't in the cards," Edwards said. "We didn't get to test as much as we would have liked to do, but the weather did not cooperate. It seemed like every week Oklahoma was getting blasted with snow or where we wanted to go test was having a freaky winter as well. We were snowed in for over a week, so that in itself made testing not an option. But, I'm excited to let the clutch out on our GXP and see where we stack up," he added. "It is a long season and I know we have a group of guys at the track and at the engine shop that are dedicated to winning. It is going to be a fun season!"


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