Pomona, CA — Driving the stealth-black GK Motorsports Cobalt that took her to four 2012 event wins, Erica Ender’s Cagnazzi Racing-powered Chevy arrived in California after a brief test session in Las Vegas… and went on to secure the 3rd qualifying spot in a cutthroat field at the 53rd Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals.
“Victor [Cagnazzi] and my guys worked hard on some new stuff this winter and it’s bearing fruit,” Enders stated. “We know we have a winner in the Cobalt, so we have a solid platform to work from while we finish preparing our new Camaro.”
Mike Edwards and V. Gaines secured the 1st and 2nd spots with a 6.528 and 6.538, respectively. Ender’s 6.539 @ 212.23 mph put her ahead of Jason Line’s 6.541. Vincent Nobile rounded out the top five with a 6.551. Defending champ Allen Johnson had trouble making a full pass during the first two sessions, qualifying 10th overall with a 6.594.
While Saturday’s warmer conditions resulted in overall slower ETs, protecting the top four spots, Enders went on to be the 2nd fastest car during the final two sessions, backing up her Friday performance and accumulating a total of six bonus points.
“We had a few things go our way early that helped us hold onto the 3rd spot, and we were able to stay one of the fastest through Saturday,” said Enders. “We’re excited to see what Sunday could mean for us.”
With the start of the season comes the start of a new series. The winner of Sunday’s race will also be the first to win a Wally in the newly-named Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
“There are some fast cars out there, and we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said crew cheif Dave Connolly. “But to get the first Pro Stock win in the new series would be a huge way to start the season.”
Erica faces Kurt Johnson in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations from Pomona’s Auto Club Raceway. Catch the action on ESPN2 starting at 8:00 pm Eastern / 5:00 pm Pacific time.