COMMERCE, Ga. — Mike Edwards says the first quarter of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series brings back a really vivid memory. The veteran driver from Coweta, Okla. says the way his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro has been performing so far this season draws many comparisons to his 2009 campaign. And we all know what happened that season. Edwards raced to five victories in 10 final rounds, earned 16 No. 1 qualifying positions and took ownership of his first NHRA Pro Stock world championship trophy.
“It has been an amazing start to the 2013 Pro Stock season,” Edwards said. “I never thought that this Interstate Batteries/I Am Second/Penhall/K&N team would have enjoyed this much success in qualifying. Pro Stock is such a competitive field and nearly every car that pulls to the starting line each qualifying session is capable of going to the pole.”
Edwards hopes to keep moving in that direction and add some more vital stats to his season scorecard at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, May 3-5 at Atlanta Dragway. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event that will be televised on ESPN2HD.
Edwards, who is a two-time winner at Atlanta Dragway, said he was relieved to finally get his first victory of the season at the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C. and put a few disappointing semifinals and runner-up finishes behind him.
“After the first four races having a really fast car and not getting a win, it was beginning to make you think that it might not be in the cards for a victory this year,” Edwards said. “But the win builds the morale of the team, which a few of the guys had never reached, and it gives you that taste and it makes you work harder to get back for some more.”
With 35 career victories, Edwards is hungrier than ever to add more marks to his win column.
“A victory gives you the confidence that you know you are doing things right and moving in the right direction,” Edwards said. “At the same time, you do not want to rest on your past and think you can just show up and win races. I have been around this sport way too long to know that you are only good as your last run down the racetrack.”
He’s not only been earning points during eliminations. Edwards leads all drivers in (3-2-1) qualifying bonus points with 46. He’s also added 40 points to his current series lead by setting the national elapsed time record twice, in Gainesville, Fla. (6.473 seconds) and in Charlotte, N.C. (6.471 seconds). NHRA awards drivers a 20-point bonus for setting a national E.T. record.
“Setting the NHRA Pro Stock E.T. record for a second time this season is just a reward to all the long hours and hard work every single member of this team puts in,” Edwards said. “It is the culmination of everyone doing what they are supposed to and the right moment. I can’t tell you how proud it made me to get that time slip and be able to enjoy the moment with my team.”
If Edwards is going to capture his second win of the season and further increase his series lead he’ll have to hold off the Summit Racing Chevy tandem of defending winner Anderson and recent Houston winner Jason Line. Anderson and Line seem to rise to the occasion whenever their team sponsor puts its name and logo on an NHRA event. Defending world champ Allen Johnson, four-time champ Jeg Coughlin, Phoenix winner Erica Enders-Stevens, V. Gaines, Vincent Nobile and Shane Gray are all among the drivers to watch in the 200-mph factory hot rod category.
In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher is again a championship contender after securing victories at Phoenix and Las Vegas behind the controls of his U.S. Army dragster. Antron Brown and Spencer Massey have had success this year as well and will be aiming to top their Don Schumacher Racing teammate in the standings. Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta, Houston winner and local favorite Bob Vandergriff, Clay Millican and Morgan Lucas will challenge for the Atlanta win as well.
The extremely competitive Funny Car category is led by two-time season winner Cruz Pedregon and his "No Name" crew. Courtney Force also has proven to be a tough challenger on the strength of two final-round appearances and one win in Pomona. Others to watch in the wildly unpredictable 8,000-horsepower category are Four-Wide Nationals winner Matt Hagan, 15-time world champ John Force, defending event winner Capps and defending world champion Jack Beckman.
The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will thrill the crowds during the weekend with intense side-by-side competition.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers because every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. Spectators also won’t want to miss the popular interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
For the second consecutive year, fans can take advantage of an exciting ticket offer: NHRA is offering a special NHRA Fan Pack that includes two Tier 2 reserved adult tickets and a preferred parking pass. This allows the easiest access into Atlanta Dragway via a separate gate entrance and provides parking in the nearest lot next to the main ticket office. Other Fan Pack benefits include two hot dogs and Cokes, one NHRA Fan Guide, and a waived service fee on each transaction. Limited quantities are available for each race day. Friday’s NHRA Fan Pack is only $80, and the Saturday or Sunday Pack is just $112.