ENGLISHTOWN, NJ (June 1) — If you asked anyone at Old Bridge Township Raceway how they are feeling at this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Summernationals, the answer would more often than not be “HOT”.
With searing temperatures in the mid 90’s, crews and racers have had to contend with 130+ degree track temps and all of the slick and slimy traction challenges that come with it.
But if you asked Erica Enders-Stevens how she’s feeling, the answer is “Ready”.
“It’s been brutal out there, and a 15-layer fire suit doesn’t make it any easier,” Enders joked. “But I’m ready. The car is running well, we’re in a groove, and I want to put this Black Iguana car in the winner’s circle tomorrow.”
Erica’s first pass of 6.569 @ 210.50 mph on Friday started her off in the #2 spot before Shane Gray clicked off a pass just .004 thousandths quicker in Q2, sending Enders to the #3 spot that she would hold on to through Saturday’s sessions.
This weekend’s qualifying follows a number two qualifying effort in Topeka for her Cagnazzi Racing team. However, Kansas dealt an early exit for the Black Iguana Chevy when transmission problems caused it to fall in the first round to Rodger Brogdon.
“Topeka was a gut check. We had an awesome car going in to Sunday. But in the first round, on the first shift, we broke. It was a huge disappointment, but you have to shake it off, fix the problem, and keep the momentum up for the next race,” said Enders.
“We’ve been a top three qualifier for two races in a row, proving we’ve got a hot rod that’s capable of going rounds and has the potential to get us into the winner’s circle. Now it’s just up to us to get it there.”
No doubt the hot temps will continue to be a factor with Sunday’s high remaining in the 90’s.
“We won in Seattle last year when it was unseasonably hot, and we can do it again here,” recalls Enders. “Tommy Utt and Dave Connolly have a knack for the hot track setup.”
Final eliminations for the NHRA Toyota Summernationals begins at 11:00 AM Eastern time. ESPN2’s elimination broadcast begins at 4:30 PM Eastern.