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Mon, 09 Sep 2013, 12:04 PM

Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship
Courtesy of NHRA Communications
Photo copyright 2013 NHRA

One-on-One with Mike Edwards




Mike Edwards celebrates Indy win.
THE MODERATOR: The NHRA Mello Yello Series regular season is officially in the history books, and the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, the six race playoff, is set to begin at the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts zMAX Dragway, September 13th through the 15th. Joining us on the call today is the Pro Stock No. 1 seed going into the playoffs:

Mike Edwards comes in to this week on a high note after winning his second Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. This season he has a total of six wins and 13 number one qualifying positions. He's a 2009 Pro Stock World Champion, and in the last five seasons has finished no lower than sixth in points. This is his sixth time to make the Countdown to the Championship. Mike, how important either for momentum or you personally was that win at Indy going into the playoffs?

MIKE EDWARDS: I don't know, you know. Indy is kind of unique. It is the race before the playoffs, but you go there trying to win that race, and the playoff is really not even in your mind at that particular race. We were very fortunate. We qualified good, we ran good a couple runs there on Sunday, and then we didn't run too good there the last couple of runs, but we were very fortunate to win. Just so happy for my Interstate Camaro. Just all my guys just rallied around. We stuck together and pulled it off. It was a great weekend for us. It's our Super Bowl of drag racing, and everybody wants to have that Indy win on their resume, that's for sure.

Q. I understand that you are suffering some pain in your left shoulder because of a rotator cuff. Will that in any way, shape, or form affect you over the following six races?

MIKE EDWARDS: I don't know. It is what it is. I'm just going to have to . it's not really going to have to be an issue for me. It is what it is. I'm just going to have to try to do the very best I can, and whatever the outcome is, I can't do a whole lot about it right now until after the season. But what I'm going to do is focus on everything I've been focusing on all year, and just trying to do the best I can.


Mike Edwards at Indy.
Q. When the off season comes, is that something that's going to need some surgery or some kind of medical attention?

MIKE EDWARDS: No, it definitely needs surgery. I've torn my rotator cuff pretty severe. So it's definitely going to have to have surgery.

Q. I watched the U.S. Nationals. You did a great round by holeshot wins. How are you so great on holeshots? I have two questions and then we'll deal with the shoulder injury.

MIKE EDWARDS: Well, I haven't been too good this year for sure. We've struggled, I've struggled, you know, with my driving. The first of the year, I think the only way we lost was because my driving. Got beat on the starting line because when you have a car as fast as mine was the first part of the season, we were just so dominant, so fast. I lost several races there by not driving as well. You know when it comes down to the Countdown if you don't drive good you know you're not going to win these races. We're not talking about hundredths of seconds anymore. We're talking about thousandths. It's going to be thousandths of a second that wins this championship. There are too many good teams out here that are just so close. I think third round over there, four cars in the semis there. Three of them went 64s with zeros, and the other went 63 with a 6. That's tremendous racing. This class has had such good teams in it, this is going to be probably the tightest championship that we've seen since we've been doing the Countdown.


Mike Edwards at Norwalk
Q. Getting back to the shoulder, I know a torn rotator cuff is extremely painful. So step me through that last run: How did you concentrate? Did you block it out completely? Were you aware of the pain? How were you functioning in the car?

MIKE EDWARDS: It had been hurting me all weekend. It's been hurting me since before Denver, but it's progressively gotten worse. I didn't really know exactly what it was until after Brainerd. I was really suffering there with it. So I went home and had an MRI done, and we got the MRI back and the doctor told me what was going on and what he suggested I do. That was to have surgery the next day. I told him it's not possible. So it is what it is. People have mountains to climb, and this is my mountain. I'm going to do the very best I can. As far as racing in the finals, it's no different than racing the other two, three guys all day long. Once you buckle up and you get in there and your adrenaline gets going, you know, the pain is still there, but you don't focus on it. It's like, you know, it's like being part of trying to do your best at the biggest race that we have, and that's what we're trying to do. That's not going to be any different for the Countdown. It's just do what I can do. Do the best I can, and whatever happens. God has everything in control. If it's meant to be for me, it's going to happen. So that's the way I look at it.

Q. Mike, it seems like not that you're an under the radar kind of guy, but it just seems like you do well, do you well, and you do well. But when you start to win a title or a championship whatever, you dominate. It's just almost like unbeatable all of a sudden. But it's not all of a sudden to you, is it?

MIKE EDWARDS: No, it's not. The way they've got the schedule, the way it is now, it's two series in one year. It's two seasons. You've got the first part of the season to try to get into the Countdown, and then you've got the second part of the season that determines the championship, you know? We ran really good and we win the first season. Now comes the second part of the season. It's the Countdown to the Championship. That is the part that everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to win the championship. So, you know, just right now there is no dominance in Pro Stock. Yeah, we qualified and won the race. But if you look at Sunday or Monday, I should say, these cars are so close. It's going to be anybody's championship. It's just going to be whoever makes the least mistakes. Whoever runs the best, and it's a team effort. That's what makes championships, these teams. That's why there are about six or eight of us down here at Charlotte right now testing before next weekend. Everybody's here doing what they need to do to try to do the best they can. It's going to be exciting for the fans, I can tell you that. I sure hate to lose that 200 point lead I had.


Mike Edwards celebrates Charlotte win earlier this year.
Q. So there is really no magic strategy for anyone in the Countdown playoffs?

MIKE EDWARDS: There's really not. I mean, this is the first race. I've said all along you can't win the championship at the first race, but you can sure darn put yourself in a bad position. So that's what we're down here trying to do. You need to do really, really well here. If you look over the past three or four years, the car that's either won this race or was in the finals went on to have a really good Countdown. This race is very, very big for us.

Q. I know last season Alan found something where he got a little bit ahead of the competition. Obviously, in the off season and through the series you've proven that you found whatever he had and even gone further in all the number one qualifying positions and won races. What was the key to you guys finding something when this class was so competitive? How hard did you guys work in the off season to get to this point now?

MIKE EDWARDS: We changed a lot of things. The biggest change we made was with the Camaro. The Camaro has really helped us. It's really stable. It's just a good car, good race car. We've made several changes to it, and it's just been really, really fast right out of the box. We've worked on our engine program all winter like we always do. But I think the biggest thing we managed was with the Camaro.


Mike Edwards at Bristol.
Q. Mike, you talked a little bit about getting off to that hot start in the Countdown. You won the four-wide race earlier in the spring there at Charlotte. You have two other career wins there. Does having a binder full of good information, good data going into that event give you a little more confidence?

MIKE EDWARDS: Well, we've all got information at these tracks. We've raced here quite well. We've been racing ever since they started it. But, yeah, any time you can go somewhere and have some success, it gives you confidence, that's for sure. But everybody else is down here testing at the same place too. We're trying to learn and trying to get better at these particular tracks like everybody else. I feel like we should run good here. I feel like we can run good here. You just never know what can happen. You've got to prepare yourself for the best, and pull up there and see what happens there on Sunday.

Q. One final question, how important is it during the course of the event to race the racetrack as much as racing your competitor next to you? Is it just trying to stay consistent and do the same thing each time?

MIKE EDWARDS: That's exactly what you've got to do. I think that's how you're going to win a championship. Race the racetrack. Prepare your car the best you can. You've just got to do everything almost perfect anymore to win one of these races, especially a championship. That's going to determine who it is, who can do all that the best. That's why everybody's down here trying to get better. I think it's going to be one of the closest championships in Pro Stock since they started the Countdown.





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