HOUSTON, April 14, 2002 - The NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals were completed today at Houston Raceway Park. In Pro Stock, Mike Edwards picked up his first win of the season defeating Kurt Johnson in a final-round battle between Chevy Cavaliers.
HOUSTON, April 14, 2002 - The NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals were completed today at Houston Raceway Park. In Pro Stock, Mike Edwards picked up his first win of the season defeating Kurt Johnson in a final-round battle between Chevy Cavaliers. Edwards' Chevrolet crossed the finish line in 6.892 seconds at 199.70 mph. Johnson's Cavalier followed in 6.910 seconds at 200.77 mph. It is the 10th career victory for the 44 year-old Oklahoman in 20 final rounds, and the second time he's won this event. He picked up his first career Pro Stock victory here in 1996. Edwards effort this weekend moves him into fifth place in the NHRA Pro Stock standings.
There have now been five different winners and nine different finalists in the Pro Stock category this year.
Mike Edwards (Young Life Chevy Cavalier) - "It's been a great day for everyone on this Young Life Chevy Cavalier team and I have to thank Roger and Ann Stull for putting this program together for us. Along with Mac Tools and Reher Morrison racing engines, I'm so blessed to be a part of this team, and this is a great win, not only for the Young Life team, but also for all of these great kids who get to come out here and see this car go down the track. It's just been an awesome day."
How did things fall in place for you today? "I didn't like our chances coming in here this morning - I shouldn't ever say that, but it didn't seem like we could do anything right yesterday. We made one good run in qualifying on Friday night and that put us in a good position coming in here today, but yesterday we didn't do anything right - we went down hill on both runs. We came out this morning and got a huge break in the first round against Steve Schmidt. We took advantage of that break, kept adjusting this Chevy Cavalier to the changing conditions and got it pretty fast there towards the end. We were pretty happy with the whole day. Mike Elliott my crew chief, Don Winget, Josh Robinson and my wife Lisa, I can't do anything without her. Reher-Morrison and Bruce Allen, I can't say enough about those guys. It's just a great day. When I first started in this class I got my first win here in '96 and now I've won my 10th race here - it's pretty special."
Five races, five different winners. How tough is it? "It's going to continue on guys, you'd better believe it! It's probably going to be like this at every race. I don't think there's going to be anybody who will step up and dominate this class. There are too many good race teams. You have 25 excellent teams at every race trying to make one of the 16 spots and it's going to be tough all year long."
Will there ever be what would be considered an upset in this class? "I don't think so. Not this year. Anybody who pulls up there can win. The attitude of anybody in this category should be, if you can qualify you can win. The motto out here now is, 'You gotta be in to win.' We've already seen a No. 16 qualifier win. I didn't think my chances today were that good, but I guess I proved myself wrong. You get a break, you take advantage of that break and you can be in the winner's circle. We proved that today. We didn't have the fastest car by any means, but it was consistent and it paid off."
Kurt Johnson (ACDelco Chevy Cavalier) - "It's disappointing when you let an opportunity like that slip away. It's one of those things - a new car and we're working to get it dialed in. We were nitpicking it today. It ran real consistent, 6.89, 6.90, 6.91, but it really needs to be running 6.86 and 6.87 in these conditions, so we still have a couple of hundredths to get out of this thing."
"We'll probably do a Tuesday, Wednesday test in Atlanta before Bristol. Now that we know which car we're going to run we can work on it pretty hard."
What were some of the factors that put you in the final round? "We had a few breaks. Tom Hammonds had a line-lock problem with his red light, Greg (Anderson) was late so I don't know what happened there. We were just consistent and you might say that we were able to make our own breaks today. With five different winners now, that shows just how crazy this class is. There are no guarantees in this sport - none at all."
Jim Yates (Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am) - "I don't think there's any real bad news out of this weekend. This Splitfire Pontiac Grand Am is a really fast car, and over the course of the season that's what will win us the championship. The team's making great decisions, the car's running fast, I drove good a couple of rounds and got beat. Mike Edwards did a good job and beat us, but we did our job. I think this team is a force to b e reckoned with this year. If you can get to the semifinal at every race, you're going to win yourself a championship - period! Being first in the points standings right now gives us momentum."
"We'll stay here tomorrow, break in some tires and maybe do a day's worth or two of testing. Then we'll head home and regroup. Bob (Ingles) will have our motors for a week. He's got some things working on the dyno and we saw a little bit of it this weekend with the way the car ran. The engine was working really well and I think we had a little extra horsepower for this race. Hopefully when we get to Bristol we'll have two or three more horsepower."
Warren Johnson (GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am) - "I shouldn't have had a .520 light, but I did and that's the way it is. We're pleased with the way the car is starting to run. If you look at where we were at the beginning of the season, there was a significant discrepancy between us and the leaders as far as performance was concerned, but now we're closing it up. It's coming around. We know the areas we need to work on, it's just with the schedule being what it is, we haven't had enough time between rainouts at the tracks we've wanted to test at, and what not. It's just a matter of time before we'll be right there. We're going rounds, and the good part of it, the people that are equivalent to us on performance right now, because we're right there with the fast cars, they're going out the same time we are, so we're all helping each other."
That's pretty much the scenario we saw last year? "It's going to be crapshoot by the end of the year, I'll guarantee you that. We'll probably have to settle it in the pits with gloves on. For the fans this is perfect."
You had low e.t. of the day in the first session. Was that an indication of your ability to adjust to the changing conditions throughout the weekend? "We found some stuff in this car, because this car's a little different from the other one, and it needs a little different tune-up on it. But overall, it's coming around. I think with everybody working on their area of the racecar, I think it's coming around pretty decently. Give us another two or three races, and we get enough test time, we'll be right in the driver's seat."
You're second in the points standings leaving here less than a round out of first. "Perfect. Just like last year. Now we can put the heat on!"