DALLAS (Sept. 21) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens cemented her reputation as one of the best in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class over the last two seasons, and she has enhanced that status in her return to the Countdown to the Championship.
Enders-Stevens won the No. 1 qualifier at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Saturday at Texas Motorplex with a lap of 6.557 seconds at 210.93 mph in her Cagnazzi Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
“It’s certainly a great feeling, that’s for sure, especially to be home here in Texas,” said Enders-Stevens, a native of Houston. “It’s really important for our morale and team confidence. I’m really proud of the entire team and send a special thanks to Stevie Johns and Kevin Wideman back at the Cagnazzi Racing engine shop in Mooresville (N.C.). There will be a little bit more peace of mind going into Sunday, but we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us tomorrow.”
Enders-Stevens missed five of six races before the six-race playoffs, but Bob Tyler and Husky Liners joined the team as marketing partner, and Enders-Stevens and Cagnazzi have picked up where they left off.
Enders-Stevens reached the semifinals of the first race of the Countdown last week in Charlotte, and she followed that up with her first No.1 qualifier of the season and sixth of her career.
She’s eighth in the Pro Stock points standings but didn’t hesitate when asked if her team is a championship contender.
“We are, for sure,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got the best guys in the business, and they’ve stood behind me from Day 1, as I have for them. We’re a great team and we work really well together. Chemistry is important in this sport, and we’re lucky to have a great group of guys who work well together. That’s a little bit of our edge, honestly. The team part is a very important aspect.”
Enders-Stevens squares off against Chris McGaha in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. McGaha qualified No. 16 with a pass of 6.654 seconds at 208.68 mph.
Missing time out of the Pro Stock car was not an “ideal situation, obviously,” Enders-Stevens said, but it has made her appreciate the chance Husky Liners has given her and her team.
“It was really tough to sit at home and watch,” Enders-Stevens said. “We missed out on testing and seat time for me as a driver, but to be back out here for Husky Liners is great.
“Honestly I just feel really blessed to have the opportunity be out here. It really gives you time to think when you’re at home watching instead of being out here competing, knowing you have a great team standing behind you. We’ve got great horsepower. We just needed the money, and Bob Tyler from Husky stepped up.”
Eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. CDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.