Edwards' razor-thin victory just Pro Stock class in action

Mike Edwards won Sunday's Ford Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway by .0000 seconds over Allen Johnson -- and by maybe some divine order. (Photo by Ron Lewis)


BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Giving credit to his Heavenly Father on Fathers Day, Pro Stock winner Mike Edwards used what could be described only as divine direction to pull off what he did Sunday at the NHRA's Ford Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

That's the only way to account for the unexplainable in the showdown between the Nos. 1 and 2 qualifiers.

According to the New York Times, in one second a hummingbird beats its wings 70 times, a cheetah dashes 34 yards, and a telephone signal travels 100,000 miles. We blink. We snap our fingers. As amazing as those statistics are, they pale in comparison to Edwards' victory margin over hometown favorite and quickest qualifier Allen Johnson in Sunday's final round.

Edwards, driving the Penhall / Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP, defeated Johnson by .0000 seconds -- a virtual dead heat. It's something that never had occurred in the final round of any event in NHRA history.

It already was staggering enough that Edwards had earned his fourth consecutive victory on the Bristol Dragway quarter-mile. He used a 6.674-second elapsed time at 206.16 mph to edge Johnson's quicker and faster 6.661, 207.05. The difference was Edwards' .005-second reaction time (perfect is .000) to Johnson's .018.

The numbers would have impressed even a jaded physics genius. They simply stunned Edwards and broke Johnson's heart.

"I don't even know how to describe it. Words can't describe it. How do you describe something like that? Has that ever been done?" Edwards said moments after receiving his second Wally trophy of the season and 34th overall. "That was just unbelievable, four zeroes for the win margin."

All he could offer by way of explanation was: "Sometimes it's just your day."

And why he has some power beyond horsepower here in the historic East Tennessee racetrack carved into the hills, here at Thunder Valley, is something at which Edwards once again simply shrugs.

"We've struggled all year a little bit, and it seems like we come to this place and we get healed up. I love this old mountain. I could race 'em all right here," the Coweta, Okla,, veteran and 2008 champion said.

"I can't explain it," he said, "but we just run exceptionally good here. I wanted this four in a row so bad that we came here right after Englishtown [the previous race, in New Jersey] and tested for two days. I've never done that at a track where we have our next race. I wanted it bad, real bad. Win, lose, or draw, we're going to give it everything we got."

Said Edwards, "We weren't the fastest car, just the second fastest car. But we did get the Wally. Today is Fathers Day, But it's my Heavenly Father's Day also. So I thank Him so much. Hats off to Allen Johnson. They did an awesome job, too. It's tough to lose in front of your home crowd."

Just as classy in defeat as Edwards was in victory, Johnson called the photo finish typical of what this factory hot rod class has to offer.

"That's Pro Stock racing at its best," the Greeneville, Tenn., driver and businessman said. "I think we do have the best car [in the class] right now. We're going to run up against a chain saw every now and then. We did with Mike in the finals. We could race 10 times and do that again and I'd win half and he'd win half. That's how close Pro Stock racing is this year.

"When it's your day, it's your day," he said. "It just wasn't our day."

Losing by an almost-unfathomable difference made it harder, Johnson said.

"Lord, we'd rather shake the tires, hit the wall, do anything as to lose like that," the Team Mopar / J&J Racing Dodge Avenger drive said. "We all thought we had it there. We done what we needed to do today. He just done a better job in the final.

"Somebody told me it was the closest race. We'll get in the history books one way or another," Johnson said with a gracious smile.

"Biggest thing I hate is that I really wanted to give that to my dad for Fathers Day. And our whole crew, employees, everybody -- we wanted to give them the excitement of a win here at home. But you know what? We'll come back next year and keep clawing."

That's what Johnson does best. He's third in the standings, behind the KB / Summit Racing duo of Greg Anderson and Jason Line, who have hogged exactly half of the 10 victories so far this season. Edwards is fourth in the standings as the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to the Chicago area for the O'Reilly Route 66 Nationals at Joliet, Ill.'s Route 66 Raceway.

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