POMONA, CA — KLR Group driver Erica Enders hopes to repeat next year what her good friend Allen Johnson did this year.
In 2011, Johnson finished fourth in the Pro Stock points standings. This year? Johnson won the championship.
Enders finished fourth in the 2012 title race and is pumped to get next season started so she can try to complete the second half of Johnson’s accomplishment.
“We’ve got a great organization, a great team, great horsepower,” Enders said. “Next year is only going to be better. I’m really excited to get home for a few days, take a deep breath and then start testing as soon as we get back from my honeymoon.”
Enders ended 2012 with a semifinal appearance in the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway on Sunday. She had a career season, winning four races and grabbing two No. 1 qualifiers all while posting her best finish in the points standings.
Plus, after she became the first woman to win in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class – in Chicago on July 1 – boyfriend Richie Stevens proposed. Enders’ wedding is December 7, after which she will honeymoon in Hawaii.
“It’s been a great year,” Enders said.
She qualified No. 5 in Pomona and won two rounds to run her season won-loss record to 38-19. Enders beat Shane Gray in the first round, leaving first with a .020-second reaction time and then making a pass of 6.517 seconds at 212.26 mph. Gray slowed to a run of 11.826 at 75.25 mph.
Enders had another solid light in the second round against V Gaines, .022, and made a pass of 6.528 seconds at 212.43 mph, getting the victory when Gaines tripped the red light.
That matched her up against Vincent Nobile, when she maintained her consistency on the Christmas Tree with a .023-second reaction time. But Nobile got to the line first after a pass of 6.543 at 211.49 mph, beating Enders’ lap of 6.542 at 211.86 mph.
The semifinal finish was her 11th in 22 races to go along with seven final-round appearances. Her best previous finish in the points standings was sixth last year.
“I expected more – at the risk of sounding unappreciative,” Enders said. “But this is our livelihood, this is what we do, how we make our living. We had our sights set higher than where we finished, but at the same time, we finished ahead a lot of big names.
“I’d hoped to finish the year on a little bit higher note, but any way you look at it, this year has been tremendous. I’ve got a great group of people around me, and for that I’m really thankful.”
Her GK Motorsports team is a finalist for the NHRA Full Throttle Hard Working Crew award which will be given out at the NHRA Awards Ceremony on Monday night. Enders’ team won the award last year.