Former Las Vegas resident wins Pro Stock title for second straight year

Las Vegas has special meaning for former resident Mike Edwards, who was a Southern Nevada resident about 15 years ago.

And on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 53-year-old Pro Stock driver had even more reasons to think Southern Nevada was a "pretty special place."

Edwards, of Coweta, Okla., won his first Pro Stock title in three events this season by capturing the NHRA Nationals for the second straight year when he defeated 19-year-old rookie Vincent Nobile.

Edwards recalled being hired by the late John Kite to work as crew chief for the Pro Stock team that Kite owned with Las Vegas resident George Marnell. Marnell also drove the car.

"We teamed up together, and (Kite) basically gave me my start (in Pro Stock) ... so it's a pretty special place for me."

Kite and Marnell split when Edwards decided he wanted to be the driver. Marnell coaxed Las Vegan Ken Black to become his partner.

The crew chief they hired was Greg Anderson, who eventually became a driver when Black left Marnell to start a team with Anderson serving as crew chief and driver.

Six NHRA Pro Stock championships can be traced to Kite: four by Anderson, and one each by Edwards and Jason Line, Anderson's current teammate.

It's more than history, though, that makes Edwards like Las Vegas. He and his car also enjoy the heat, which made this weekend's unseasonably warm weather conducive to his Pontiac GXP's performance.

"We run better when it gets hot in the middle of the summer. We just came here and started off so well, and we just kind of built on it."

Edwards was dominant from start to finish of the three-day event.

Edwards won the pole with a run on Friday, when the high temperature was 92 degrees, and he was the fastest car each elimination round on Sunday, when temperatures "dipped" to the mid-80s.

The winner of 29 NHRA events, including eight last year, failed to qualify for this season's first race and lost in the second round at the next one.

"We started off pretty slow for us -- actually pretty bad for us, really," Edwards said. "We regrouped and came in here with a new car that had a few runs on it and just made some tremendous runs, starting right off with Friday and just continued on through."

He moved from 11th to fourth in the points standings behind leader Line, whose winning streak of two events ended in the second round.

■ PRO MOD, SPORTSMAN WINNERS -- Al-Anabi Racing's Top Fuel drivers Larry Dixon and Del Worsham fell short of winning a title, but another driver for the team owned by Sheik Khalid Al-Thani won the Pro Mod title at LVMS, with Khalid Balooshi of Qatar finishing first.

Winners of NHRA Sportsman titles were: Shawn Cowie (Delta, British Columbia.), Top Alcohol Dragster; Tony Bartone (Long Island City, N.Y.), Top Alcohol Funny Car; Dan Fletcher (Church, N.Y.), Competition; Jody Lang (Puyallup, Wash.), Super Stock; Toby Lang (Auburn, Wash.), Stock; Justin Morgan (Concord, Calif.), Super Comp; and Dallas Glenn (Covington, Wash.), Super Gas.

Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at or 702-383-0247.