Edwards Defeats Yates in All-Pontiac GTO Pro Stock Final at Houston Margin of Victory is .0098 For Edwards' 12th Career Win BAYTOWN, Texas, April 2, 2006 - It was by the slimmest of margins, but NHRA Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards will take the...
Edwards Defeats Yates in All-Pontiac GTO Pro Stock Final at Houston
Margin of Victory is .0098 For Edwards' 12th Career Win
BAYTOWN, Texas, April 2, 2006 - It was by the slimmest of margins, but NHRA Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards will take the wins anytime they come. The Oklahoma native defeated Jim Yates by .0098 seconds in an all-Pontiac GTO Pro Stock final in today's elimination rounds at the 19th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park. Edwards had an elapsed time of 6.731 seconds at 206.01 mph to Yates' quicker 6.726 e.t. at 205.63 mph for the hole-shot win. It was the 12th win of Edwards' career but his first in nearly four years (Denver 2002).
"There's nothing like winning one of these races," said Edwards. "It's been a long time since we accomplished this feeling. It's quite a feat to even qualify for this class anymore as tough as it is, but to come away with a victory, we're just tickled to death. There's a lot of parity right now and there's a lot of teams that have worked really, really hard like we have over the winter and gotten closer. It's fun to go to the races now and feel like you have a chance to win one of these races. It's good to see those guys up there that haven't won in awhile. I think Greg's (Anderson) still the guy, he's the car, he's the team to beat. He's had a couple of bad breaks happen to him, but he's still the guy to beat in the class.
"Our improved performance this season is all about (engine builder) Frank Iaconia. He changed it 180 degrees. Our motor program has really, really changed and turned around. It's awesome this year. It's all about having the power to come out here and race these guys. We may not be the best, but we're a whole lot better than we were last year, so we're just going to build on that. I also want to thank my crew chief Al Lindsey and Josh Robinson for their hard work, and Don Winget, he's been with me forever, I think, ever since I started racing.
Edwards, who made it to the final round at this year's season-opener at Pomona before losing to three-time defending Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson, had bracket-racing consistency all day long with a 6.723 e.t. in defeating Allen Johnson in the first round, a 6.722 e.t. to better Dave Connolly in Round 2, a 6.728 e.t. in his semifinal win over No. 1 qualifier Jason Line, and his winning 6.731-second e.t. in the final against Yates.
"We just about .72'd them to death," said Edwards. "We weren't the star, but went down the track every run, and some days that's what it takes. We just didn't want to beat ourselves. I beat myself at Gainesville and I just didn't want to do that today. I'm just real thankful, I'm totally blessed. I just want to give all the glory to Christ. This Young Life team is all about him and we glorify his name. That's what it's all about and I'm just thankful to be a part of it. It all starts with them and then funnels down to the kids. I just want to thank Roger Stull and Ann, his wife, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this Young Life program. He had a vision of this program five years ago, and it's just kept getting stronger and stronger. Now it's just an unbelievable program and I'm just glad to be a part of it. It's just an awfully good experience and feeling to have a win under your belt going to Vegas, especially this early in the season. It kind of gives you something to build on, so hopefully we can keep the ball rolling."
Jason Line qualified his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO No. 1 with a track-record elapsed time of 6.686 seconds and advanced to the semifinal round before losing to Edwards. In fact, it was an all-GM semifinals with Edwards and Line facing off in Pontiac GTOs in one semifinal and Erica Enders in her Slammers Chevy Cobalt taking on Yates in his Pontiac.
"We just didn't make a very nice pass on that last run," said Line. "It spun the tires pretty hard. We've been fighting it all weekend, to be honest with you, and we really only made one good run. Fortunately it came at the right time (to qualify No. 1). I think everybody's fighting the same thing, and I think it's just a matter of who does the best job of figuring it out. Unfortunately today, it wasn't us.
"We just didn't do a very good job all the way around. That's racing and it's just one of those things. You can't be perfect every week, and you're going to have bad performances sometimes. But we win as a team and we lose as a team. It's not a big deal, we'll just go back and figure out what we didn't do right and work on making it better."
The 22-year-old Enders continues to show her considerable driving talents, matching her two hole-shot wins last race at Gainesville with two hole-shot wins today over the Dodges of Richie Stevens Jr. and V. Gaines. The Houston native followed up her final-round appearance at Gainesville with her semifinal appearance today and stands third in Pro Stock points.
"We're feeling good," said Enders, "and the positive thing is we picked up 20 points on Greg (Anderson) and you don't get to do that often. I had a bad light and the tires spun, and I saw Jim (Yates) out my front window the whole time, and there was just no coming off of a .60 and some tire spin, there's just no making it up down track. But we had a really good showing here, some of the Slammers guys were in town and a bunch of Coca-Cola Enterprises employees, so I've got to thank them for coming out."
In Funny Car, four Chevy Monte Carlos won their first-round matche-ups but none could advance to the semifinals. Del Worsham left the starting line almost identically with eventual event winner Ron Capps in his second-round race but couldn't catch him at the end, losing 4.882 e.t. at 302.48 mph to Capps' 4.820 e.t. at 321.42 mph. Worsham's teammate Phil Burkart Jr. lost to finalist Bob Gilbertson in a Dodge in his second-round match-up, Tony Pedregon lost to No. 1 qualifier John Force in a Ford in Round 2, and Gary Densham lost in the second round to Eric Medlen's Ford. In the final Capps defeated Gilbertson with an elapsed time of 5.005 seconds at 293.47 mph as Gilbertson smoked the tires almost immediately and ran a 22.001 e.t. at 72.65 mph.
"First of all, let's look at the glass half-full for a second," Worsham said. "There are some big time hitters behind us in the points, the defending champion (Gary Scelzi) DNQd here, and the line of guys who would trade places with us right now goes around the block. We're running well, we're very consistent, and everyone on this team is doing their part to help us win. We've just gone 4-for-4 when it comes to losing by tiny margins in the second round. We continue to be right there, and I'm pretty sure there's not a team out here that's happy to see us line up next to them. I could be frustrated already, but because of the way we're running it's more like I'm just mad. If we were stinking up the joint and losing, I'd be mad and depressed. As it is, I know we can win next weekend in Las Vegas, and if we keep winning in Round 1, something good is going to happen."
Worsham's teammate Phil Burkart Jr. has two semifinal finishes through the season's first four races and hangs on to fourth in points heading to the next race in Las Vegas.
"The toughest part was the first round deal, because when you're (qualified) 7th you can pretty much expect to race a tough team in the first round, said Burkart. "That's what we got, with Cruz (Pedregon) and his team, but we tried to not even think about the opponent. My guys were racing the track, plain and simple, and in the first round we beat the track again. That first round was huge again for us, no doubt about that. Last year, as everyone knows, once we got to the third race of the season we forgot how to win in the first round. It was awful, and very frustrating, so being able to move on to the second round for the fourth straight race is cool. You can't win much of anything out here if you lose in the first round."
In Top Fuel, GMC-affiliated driver Cory McClenathan qualified No. 1 for today's eliminations and advanced to the semifinals before losing to eventual event winner Brandon Bernstein. Cory Mac defeated Bruce Litton in Round 1, Larry Dixon in Round 2 to face off against Bernstein. In the semifinals Mclenathan smoked the tires and ran an elapsed time of 8.835 seconds at 78.73 mph to Bernstein's winning 4.558 e.t. at 331.77 mph. Bernstein went on to defeat points leader Melanie Troxel in the final.
"Wes (Cerny), (assistant crew chief) Tony Shortall and the crew did a good job this weekend," McClenathan said. "It has taken us a while to get our new combination figured out, but I think we've turned the corner. That second-round win on the hole shot (he had a .061-second reaction time to Dixon's .106) was good for me. All-in-all, I think it was definitely a morale boost for our whole team. And I am very happy to be back in the top 10 (in points). I think we have a competitive race car now and I can't wait to get to Las Vegas."
In the Sportsman classes, Kebin Kinsley from Kennedale, Texas, in an '02 Camaro defeated Mick Snyder from Demotte, Ind., in an '02 Firebird to win Top Alcohol Funny Car. Other Sportsman winners included Jerry Emmons from Pasadena, Texas, in Super Stock in his '91 Calais, and Jason Kenny from Kingston, Ontario, drove his '03 Corvette to the Super Gas title.