Edwards Uses Hole-Shot to Place Pontiac in St. Louis Winner's Circle Pedregon Claims Third FC Win of Season in his Chevy MADISON, Ill., June 25, 2006 - Young Life Pontiac GTO driver Mike Edwards became the fourth Pro Stock driver with multiple...
Edwards Uses Hole-Shot to Place Pontiac in St. Louis Winner's Circle
Pedregon Claims Third FC Win of Season in his Chevy
MADISON, Ill., June 25, 2006 - Young Life Pontiac GTO driver Mike Edwards became the fourth Pro Stock driver with multiple wins in the class this season after defeating Larry Morgan's Dodge in today's final round of eliminations at the 10th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Edwards' 13th career win was his second of the season (Houston, St. Louis) and he joins fellow GM racers Kurt Johnson, Dave Connolly and Jason Line as the only multiple winners in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class. Using cat-quick reaction times for all four rounds of eliminations, the 48-year-old Edwards used a .012 reaction time in the final round and an elapsed time of 6.717 seconds at 205.76 mph for a hole-shot win over 51-year-old Morgan's 6.715 e.t. at 205.82 mph. Margin of victory was .008 seconds.
"Us old guys can do it every once in awhile," joked Edwards. "What a different a year makes. I tell you what, I love O'Reilly. Every time I win a race, it seems like it's an O'Reilly race. I had a great day. We didn't qualify very well (11th), but we got fortunate to win a couple of rounds there early. Any time you can win in this class, it's fortunate. We're not the fastest car by any means, but the fastest car doesn't always win on Sunday. You've just got to be consistent. My team, Big Al, Josh, Josh Robinson, all the people that help us, they did an awesome job and I want to thank them. It's a tremendous blessing to come out here and win one of these races in this class. To be successful is just unbelievable. I'm just real thankful, real grateful.
"This program's all about sending Young Life kids to camp, and every round we win we send a kid to camp, so we sent four kids to camp today. That's about $2,000 out of my pocket, but I'm glad to do it."
Edwards defeated Erica Enders in Round 1, Richie Stevens Jr. on a hole-shot in Round 2, and Dave Connolly in the semifinals for a chance to face Morgan. Edwards had reaction times of .002, .024, .024, and .012 in his four rounds of eliminations for an eye-popping average reaction time of .013 for today's competition.
"This Pontiac's been pretty consistent all year," said Edwards. "We've stumbled a little bit, but I tell you what, we stuck in that right lane all day long, which wasn't the choice, and we finally got it figured out the last couple runs. I closed my eyes and guessed right, I guess."
Jason Line followed up his win last week at Englishtown with a semifinal-round appearance in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to close the gap between him and teammate Greg Anderson to two points for top spot in the Pro Stock standings. Anderson qualified No. 1 for the sixth time this season but lost in the first round to Steve Schmidt.
"As long as we're [Nos.] 1 and 2, that's all that matters to me," said Line. "We both need to do better jobs all the way around, but all in all, it could be worse. It's a tough deal right now, but I guess I'd rather be in my position than almost everybody else's, that's for sure. We've got a good car and everybody's doing a good job, we just need to tune-up the driver a little bit and we'll be in good shape."
"Somehow we're treading water and hanging on to the points lead," said Anderson. "We can't in our wildest imagination continue to do this and think we'll continue to have the points lead after the Western swing. We're going to have to find this problem out. Nobody can fix it but us. There's so much competition in the class right now, and on any given day any car can win. Nobody is showing that they can win repeatedly, not because everybody's doing a bad job but because everybody's doing a good job. We've got to find a way to do a better job than we're doing if we want to win again."
In Funny Car, Tony Pedregon advanced to the final round in his Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo and faced of against his old boss, 13-time Funny Car champ John Force. In the finals, Pedregon had an elapsed time of 4.859 seconds at 320.43 mph to better Force's 4.904 e.t. at 269.35 for his third win in three final rounds this season. Pedregon matched his win here at Gateway 2001.
"This one's special," said Pedregon. "Anytime you deal with these elements, this weather and these conditions, and anytime you can beat the Big Dog in the final, that's a good weekend. We appreciate all of the people out here, keeping all of those fluids in your body, hopefully it's POWERade, and really enduring this kind of weather and this kind of weekend for us.
"Team ownership is a lot different and I have no life. I haven't got a paycheck since I drove for Force, but it's all worth it. When I committed myself to team up with Quaker State, Q, Snap-On, Herzog and Sioux City, all the people that invest money, they want a return on their dollar and I wanted to do it the right way. It was kind of like jumping off a cliff and I thought I could fly, so I just kind of started flapping my wings. But I didn't do it alone, I did it with the right people. I've got to give a lot of credit to my guys. We've got a couple of new team members, and they were interns about a week ago. It's really a tribute to the management, Dickie Venables, Kurt Elliott, and my brother, Cruz, his crew pitched in. The people that work on my car, they're the ones that prepare it and tell it what to do, and then I've got to get in the car and I've got to do my job."
Actually, two Chevy Monte Carlos advanced to the semifinals with Tommy Johnson Jr. and Tony Pedregon carrying the flag for Team Chevy. Johnson qualified his Skoal Chevy Monte Carlo No. 3 and then defeated fellow Chevy driver Jeff Arend in Round 1 and Eric Medlen's Ford in Round 2 to square off against Force. Johnson had the advantage off the line but smoked his tires at half-track, slowing to an elapsed time of 6.354 seconds at 169.89 mph to Force's winning 4.845 e.t. at 318.32 mph. Pedregon drove his Chevy past Arend's teammate Del Worsham in Round 1 and Bob Gilbertson in Round 2 before facing off with defending Funny Car champ Gary Scelzi in his semifinal-round match-up. Pedregon used a starting-line advantage for a hole-shot win with an elapsed time of 4.886 seconds at 317.57 mph to Scelzi's quicker but losing 4.877 e.t. at 319.52 mph. Pedregon's margin of victory over Scelzi's Dodge was .008 seconds.
"Has anybody out there ever wanted to beat their boss?" joked Pedregon. "This trophy is for you. Where I grew up in Southern California, when I was a teenager, I used to watch John Force in that Hot 'n Juicy car under the lights. He's probably one of the guys that kind of drove me into racing. It was great working for him for all of those years and I learned a lot. I hope I make him proud. I'd never rub it in because I love him, and he knows that, but we beat him and this is a good day for the Q team."
In the Sportsman classes, it was an all-GM final in both Comp Eliminator and Super Stock. Chad Voges from Lafayette, Ind., drove his '02 Camaro past Tony Stephenson in his '06 GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO to claim the Comp Eliminator crown, and Chuck Bohannon from Valley Station, Ky., won Super Stock in his '02 Cavalier, defeating Mike Lund in a '90 Camaro. Kevin Helms also won Stock Eliminator in his '69 Camaro.
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade circuit is the 27th annual Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Colo., on July 14-16.