Edwards Powers His Pontiac to Fourth Final Round of Season at Dallas
Pedregon, Johnson Advance Chevy to Funny Car Semis
ENNIS, Texas, September 24, 2006 - With the No. 1 qualifier losing in the first round and the current points leader losing in the second, Pontiac driver Mike Edwards was smooth and steady, improving each round to advance his Young Life Pontiac GTO to the Pro Stock final at the 21st annual O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex. In the final round Richie Stevens Jr. edged Edwards for his first win of the season as his Dodge had an elapsed time of 6.693 seconds at 204.60 mph to Edwards' 6.718 e.t. at 206.39 mph. It was the fourth final round this season for Edwards as he matched his wins at Houston and St. Louis with today's runner-up finish and a runner-up at the season-opener at Pomona (Calif.).
"It really shook the tires (in the final round)," said Edwards. "I would've bet any amount of money it would never do that. I guess I picked the wrong lane, but I had been over there all day and I had the fastest cat in the semis. The track was a little cooler and I thought it would be fine. It just wasn't meant to be."
Edwards made steady improvement in each of the first three rounds, defeating fellow Pontiac driver Jim Yates in Round 1 with a 6.695 e.t., points leader Jason Line on a holeshot in Round 2 with a 6.691 e.t., and Greg Stanfield in the semifinals with the quickest e.t. of the round at 6.688 seconds.
"Good weekend," said Edwards. "I'm real happy with my team. I just want to thank everybody that's a part of it, Roger, my wife Lisa, just everybody. We're just a family deal. We try real hard with what we've got. I'm just real proud of my team, (engine builder) Frank (Ianconio) and everybody back at the engine shop. I feel like I let one slip away, but hey, we had a good day.
More important than his on-track performance, Edwards and his team also hosted more than 150 kids on Thursday evening at Texas Motorplex as part of its season-long youth program with sponsor Young Life ministries.
"That was the biggest one we've ever had," said Edwards. "It was unbelievable. You'd just have to see that to believe it. We had to go down to the RFC tent because we couldn't have it in our pit area where we normally have it - there wasn't enough room. That's a great program, I'm blessed and proud to be a part of it."
Greg Stanfield qualified his Pontiac GTO No. 3 for today's eliminations and advanced to the semifinals before meeting Edwards. In that third round he had an elapsed time of 6.724 seconds at 205.57 mph to Edwards' winning elapsed time of 6.688 seconds at 206.76 mph.
"It was a good weekend," said Stanfield, "we just missed the setup in the semifinals. Obviously the track changed a lot and we weren't ready for it, so it got us. But it was a good weekend all in all. We qualified good (No. 3) and went a couple of rounds, so now we go to the next one."
Kurt Johnson also advanced his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt to the semifinals before losing to eventual event-winner Stevens. Johnson lost to Stevens on a holeshot with an elapsed time of 6.706 seconds at 205.91 mph to Stevens' slower but winning 6.714 e.t. at 204.60 mph.
"That was ugly," said Johnson. "For a reason we have yet to identify, the engine had been backfiring throughout the day, and even caught fire in the pits twice. However, our ACDelco Chevy Cobalt kept running well and we were going rounds. As if that wasn't enough, when I got out of the car at the top end after the second round, I noticed a quarter-inch stream of what appeared to be oil behind the car, which turned into a puddle. Looking back, maybe we should have changed engines, but we had just run low elapsed time of the round with that motor, so we decided to repair it instead. I have to commend my crew because they never gave up, working through our problems and making sure we made it to the line in time.
Unfortunately, it backfired again under the tower and blew the gasket out of the intake manifold, which certainly didn't help our run. I let the clutch out and it spun the tires a little bit, which might have hurt the reaction time. But even so, it felt good. Unfortunately we slowed by three hundredths from the last round and it cost us. Since you can't really see the win light here, I turned off the top end thinking I had won. When the camera crew started heading to Richie's car, I realized we had lost. What can you say - it was a drag race. Even so, we'll take today's results and go on to Reading next weekend and see if we can get this ACDelco Cobalt back to the winner's circle."
No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson saw his pursuit of a fourth consecutive NHRA POWERade championship take a hit as he suffered a first-round holeshot loss to Dave Northrop. Anderson drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to an elapsed time of 6.653 seconds at 206.29 mph to Northrop's slower but winning 6.697 e.t. at 206.20 mph.
"I don't know what happened, but I do know that we missed an opportunity," said Anderson, following his first round loss to Dave Northrop. "I felt good today. The Summit Racing Pontiac was obviously great. I had all the confidence in the world with the car. I knew the car was going to run well. All I had to do was be solid and concentrate on that light. Somehow my concentration was broken. I don't know when or how. I didn't think I missed the light but the timing slip says otherwise. So I did, and now I've got to take the consequences. Dave Northrop in the other lane did a good job. My hat is off to him. He won the race and he deserves it. I've got to come back and do better next time. We're still in the running to win our fourth POWERade championship."
His teammate and points leader Jason Line had the quickest elapsed time of the event in the first round with a 6.643 e.t., but unfortunately he couldn't carry that momentum past the second round and suffered a holeshot loss to Mike Edwards. Line drove his Pontiac to a 6.674 elapsed time at 205.85 mph to Edwards' slower but winning 6.691 e.t. at 206.35 mph. Despite the loss, Line leaves Texas with a 78-point lead over teammate Anderson with four races remaining.
"It's a little depressing to lose, as a loss always is," said Line, after he lost in the second round to Edwards. "Both (teammate) Greg (Anderson) and I had the best cars and, forgetting about points, should have been running in the money round today. It didn't happen. We both came up short, but in the points battle it turned out to be pretty much a wash.
"In that (second) round we had a small mechanical problem - a valve spring - otherwise, I think I might have got him on the top end. But it wasn't to be. Also, as the reaction times indicate, I wasn't as good as I should have been up front. No room for error in the Pro Stock class. But we'll be back next weekend at Reading."
In Funny Car, Tony Pedregon and Tommy Johnson Jr. both advanced their Chevrolets to the semifinals. Pedregon in the Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo defeated fellow Chevy drivers Phil Burkart Jr. in Round 1 and Tony Bartone in Round 2 before facing off with pole-sitter and eventual event-winner Robert Hight in the semis. Hight's Ford got the better of Pedregon with an elapsed time of 4.861 seconds at 318.84 to Pedregon's tire-hazing 5.827 elapsed time at 176.51 mph.
After an impressive No. 2 qualifying effort, Johnson in his Skoal Chevy Monte Carlo defeated Jack Beckman in Round 1 and defending Funny Car champ Gary Scelzi in Round 2 to meet Mike Ashley in the other semifinal-round match-up. Ashley's Dodge had a winning elapsed time of 5.311 seconds at 216.83 mph as Johnson slowed to a 7.840 e.t. at 138.81 mph. Hight went on to win his second consecutive race with a 4.796 e.t. at 322.73 mph to Ashley's 6.024 e.t. at 159.08 mph.
In the Sportsman classes, Kebin Kinsley from Kennedale, Texas, drove his '02 Camaro to the Top Alcohol Funny Car title over Paul Anderson. Other GM winners included Tom Schmidt from Lindstrom, Minn., in a '34 Chevy in Comp Eliminator, Vic Penrod from Walters, Okla., in a '97 Firehawk in Super Stock, and Chuck Weir from nearby Fort Worth in his '71 Camaro in Super Street.
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade circuit is the 22nd annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., on Sept. 29-Oct. 1, rescheduled from its rainout on Sept. 15-17.
-credit: gm racing