Edwards scores maximum qualifying bonus at NHRA's Texas Nationals
Pro Stock racer Mike Edwards took advantage of NHRA's new qualifying bonus point system and earned the maximum 12 points during two days of qualifying at the O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals. For his efforts, the Oklahoma racer earned his category-leading 12th No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Texas Motorplex.
Larry Dixon, Robert Hight and Eddie Krawiec also claimed No. 1 qualifying positions in their categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event. The race is the second of six events in the Countdown to 1, NHRA's championship playoffs.
Edwards was quickest in both sessions for the day in his A.R.T. / Young Life Pontiac GXP, but it was his 6.597 second run at 209.88 mph from Friday that earned him the top spot. He will face V. Gaines in Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.
Per the new rule, the top three qualifiers in each pro category earn 3, 2, and 1 points respectively during each qualifying session. Edwards' total increased his series lead over defending champ Jeg Coughlin, who earned 5 qualifying bonus points.
"Hat's off to all my guys, they were making some really good judgments for this last qualifying run," Edwards said. "We had like 122 track temp, and I just made a phenomenal run. Moved around just a little bit down low, but boy, it was really nice. Hopefully we can make good decisions tomorrow. I'm really happy with my team and the car and my performance and everything. But tomorrow is another day, so we'll see what happens. We're all out here trying to win rounds so every round you can win you try to do all you can. If we could win this race here, it would really help us a lot, but there are 15 other guys who are trying to do the same thing. It's going to be a tough job, but I think we're capable."
In Top Fuel, Al-Anabi Racing's Dixon earned his sixth No. 1 of the season, 37th of his career and second consecutive in the playoffs, with his 3.833 at 312.93 mph performance from Friday. Brandon Bernstein and Spencer Massey were quickest of the day.
"Yesterday was a lot more fun than today," Dixon said. "Conditions were obviously pretty warm. We went out there and tried a few things on the first run, then we went back to a normal set-up and still got the tires loose, so we'll calm her down a little more. It's going to be hotter tomorrow, so we've got to make sure we get our car down the racetrack."
The two-time world champ will face opening round opponent Mike Bowers, who is making his first career start in Top Fuel. Dixon says with warm conditions forecast for Sunday, anything can happen.
"The first couple of rounds probably won't be too bad, but if we're fortunate enough to get to the semifinals, we're going to be running around 3 o'clock, and that's the hottest part of the day," Dixon said. "We measured 127 [degrees track temperature on the second run], so it was pretty hot. But when you're sitting in that car ready to run and the last thing you see is Alan Johnson stick his hands in their and turn the knobs, you don't worry about anything; it's a good feeling."
Hight took his third No. 1 position of the season and 31st of his career in Funny Car with his Friday run of 4.109 at 305.56 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. Ashley Force Hood and Bob Tasca III posted the quickest runs of the day.
"We knew that with today's weather that we were definitely going to stay No. 1; nobody was going to run a .10," Hight said. "But we only got down the track once today and I'd feel better going into race day if we'd done better in the heat. It dropped a cylinder on that last run and if that hadn't happened it probably would have run near what the quick guys were running."
Hight will face first-time NHRA Funny Car racer Leif Helander in the opening round as he tries to keep his recent hot streak going.
"We're racing a guy from Sweden and you know he's got to be hungry," Hight said. "There are no easy ones. You know he's going out there trying to get his first national event round-win, so we're going to have to do our job tomorrow. Looking at the ladder, there are a lot of first-round match-ups of the Countdown cars, so a lot of those guys are going to be gone early and if we can do what we did in Charlotte we can keep this thing rolling. But it won't be easy. It's going to be hotter tomorrow and we've got to go down the track to win."
The three marquee Countdown to 1 first-round pairings Hight was referring to include Tim Wilkerson vs. Ron Capps; Force Hood vs. Del Worsham; and Tasca III vs. Tony Pedregon.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec claimed his second top qualifying position of the season with his Friday performance of 6.908 at 192.55 on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec earned eight qualifying bonus points for the weekend, but Saturday's quickest riders were Krawiec teammate Andrew Hines and series leader Hector Arana.
"Like I said yesterday, I really didn't think my run was going to hold up for the session this morning," said Krawiec, who will face Redell Harris in the first round. "I was fortunate that it got a little hotter and the humidity went up. The weather conditions weren't quite as good I was able to maintain the No. 1 position. I think on any race day, it doesn't matter where you qualify or where you are in the field. Bottom line is, as long as you qualify, you have a shot. I don't take any competitor out here lightly. They all have fast motorcycles they all just have to get tuned into the track conditions and weather conditions. I think anybody out there can possibly shine tomorrow. I'm just going to go out there and race my own race."