NHRA: Edwards hoping to change BIR fortune this weekend
Mike Edwards has spent all but three weeks of the season with a target on his back.
The Penhall/K&N Interstate Chevy Camaro driver has amassed an 88-point lead over Allen Johnson in the Pro Stock season standings with two races remaining until the Countdown to the Championship.
With a spot already clinched for the postseason, Edwards is now working toward clinching that No. 1 seed and collecting those 30 extra points that come from winning the regular season. He’ll work toward that goal Aug. 16-18 in the 32nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
“I don’t know if we can clinch it there, but we sure don’t want to lose any points,” said Edwards. “That’s our objective. Hopefully we can finally get a win there.
“We want to be leading at the end of the season, but leading right now is still good. We’re trying to gain some momentum and see what happens.”
Edwards’ season statistics prove he’s been at the top of his game. In 16 events, he owns four wins to go with another finals appearance. He’s 32-12 in rounds with 12 No. 1 qualifiers, which is just four behind his season record. Simply put — Edwards’ car is fast.
“We just have a really good car and a great team and a great bunch of guys,” said Edwards. “We’ve made some really good decisions. We’ve been to all of these tracks many times and we’re making the right calls and we’ve been fortunate enough to do that. It’s a little bit shocking to do, but we just have a really, really fast car.
“We’ve floundered away some victories. We should have won way more races. I just need to do a better job of driving.”
Edwards’ success may be surprising to some as the team changed from a Pontiac GXP to a Chevy Camaro before the season started. It hasn’t taken long for the team to get acclimated with the vehicle. That hasn’t surprised Edwards.
“We have a lot of experience on this team,” said Edwards. “We’ve been doing this a long time. It’s just a combination of things we put together over the winter. We did a lot of testing over the winter and tested throughout the year. We’ve had a lot of races here lately, but it’s an ongoing deal. We’re pecking and pounding and trying to beat more ET (elapsed time) out of the thing.
“It’s very rewarding to go out and qualify No. 1 that many times. It’s just hats off to the guys in the engine room and at the race track.”
Edwards will get a chance to see just how good this new car is when he arrives at BIR. The 55-year-old has never won in Brainerd and has had little success at BIR in the last few years.
During last year’s event at BIR, Edwards qualified third, but was eliminated in the quarterfinal round. It was the same exact scenario in 2011, where Edwards qualified third and was knocked out in the quarterfinals. In 2010, Edwards qualified No. 1 but was bumped in the first round. He did advance to the semifinals of the 2009 Lucas Oil Nationals after qualifying No. 1.
“I can’t put my finger on it,” Edwards said. “We just haven’t gotten it done on several race tracks now. For whatever reason, we had a couple of things go wrong on the Western Swing. We didn’t qualify well in Denver and we had some shock problems at another race. Everything has just got to go right.”