GM racers capture gold at Bandimere Speedway. MORRISON, Colo., July 21, 2002 - With Mike Edwards winning the Pro Stock title today in a Chevy Cavalier, and Del Worsham capturing the Funny Car crown in a Pontiac Firebird, the cumulative result...
GM racers capture gold at Bandimere Speedway.
MORRISON, Colo., July 21, 2002 - With Mike Edwards winning the Pro Stock title today in a Chevy Cavalier, and Del Worsham capturing the Funny Car crown in a Pontiac Firebird, the cumulative result was a GM Racing dominating performance at the 23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
For Edwards, it was the second victory of the season for the Young Life Chevrolet driver and he reached the winner's pinnacle by toppling the Dodge Neon of Allen Johnson in the final round. Edwards win also gave Chevrolet its 102nd win in NHRA Pro Stock competition.
With adjusted altitudes approaching 10,000 feet, the naturally aspirated engines of the Pro Stock cars struggled all weekend to find oxygen in the thin Colorado air. But here on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Edwards' Reher-Morrison powered Chevy Cavalier persevered qualifying with a strong 7.288 elapsed time which was good enough for the No. 6 starting position.
Edwards dispatched J.R. Carr in the first round with a 7.272-second run that secured the all-important lane choice with his second-round opponent Bruce Allen. After taking out Allen in the quarterfinals, Edwards defeated Warren Johnson on a holeshot in the semifinal heat, setting up the championship matchup with Allen Johnson.
In the money round, both drivers refused to stage, and when the starting lights finally blinked green after a half-minute burn down, Edwards conceded just .002 of a second to Johnson on the tree. But the hard-charging Chevy Cavalier ran down the Dodge Neon at the finish line, taking the win with a 7.339 e.t. at 188.41 mph to Johnson's 7.347-second run at 189.07 mph. The margin of victory was a razor thin .006 second.
"The burn down with Johnson in the finals, I think the fans liked it," said Edwards. "When the fields are this close, you try to get any advantage you can. He didn't want to go in, and I didn't want to go in so we just sat there - and it worked out for us.
"We hung in there this weekend. We weren't the fastest car, but this Chevy Cavalier was the best car. You just never know when you pull through that gate what's going to happen. Qualifying is so hard. I've DNQ four times this year, and won twice so that just goes to show you that if you can qualify you can win a race. I don't really think people realize how hard these teams work and how much effort we put into these programs."
It marked the 11th career victory in 21 final rounds for the 44-year-old Edwards and the first time he'd won at Bandimere Speedway. The win moves Edwards into eighth place in the NHRA Pro Stock standings.
"I want to thank all the guys at Chevrolet who support his program," said Edwards. "We couldn't do it without you. We're also just down the road from Young Life in Colorado Springs, and this is the biggest thing I could've done for the kids there, because this is their car - we race for them. John Bandimere and the Bandimere family, they support Young Life so much. To win this race at this track is just tremendous, and icing on the cake for Mike Edwards and my whole team.
In Funny Car, Del Worsham drove the Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird to his third win of the season, and moved into third place of the NHRA Funny Car standings after defeating the Ford Mustang of Tony Pedregon in the finals. It was also the 10th career victory in 17 final rounds for the 32-year-old Chino Hills, Calif., resident.
"This Pontiac Firebird was great all day," said Worsham. "There was a lot of sentimental meaning to winning this race. We're trying to win a championship and we took a step in that direction with the victory here today. If we're going to capture the title then we need to win these close races, show these guys we can race with them and get closer to those Castrol cars. We did a great job this weekend, we closed the points gap and that's what we have to do every week."
Worsham came into the Sunday eliminator qualified in the No. 9 position and fired off a blistering 5.086 e.t. in a first round win over the Chevy Camaro of Tommy Johnson Jr. Worsham then took out No. 1 qualifier Scotty Cannon in round two and former teammate Frank Pedregon in round three before squaring off against Tony Pedregon in the finals.
Pedregon's Mustang launched first, but Worsham's Ram Air Pontiac Firebird blew past the Ford with a winning 5.160 e.t. at 293.15 mph. Pedregon ended with a 5.193 second run at 291.1.13 mph. The margin of victory was .010 second.
"After qualifying last night, if we'd told anybody we were going to win the race today, they probably wouldn't have believed us," said Worsham. "We knew the tune up on the Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac was right on, and my dad made a lot of good calls and some brilliant decisions all day.
"In the last 13 months we've won a lot of races and looking back it's been great. We gave one away at the Winternationals and that may have been another one. Every year this team seems to get better and better, and here we are halfway through the season. I can't wait to see what's going to happen in the second half."
After giving Pontiac Firebird its fifth Funny Car win of the season, Worsham is now just 132 points behind first-place John Force.
The next stop on the NHRA POWERade tour is the 15th annual Lucas Oil Nationals on July 26 - 28 at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.