TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens has the big picture in mind after reaching the semifinals of the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka.
The semifinal appearance was her fifth in eight races this season to go along with two victories, and she maintained the points lead she’s held for five races in a row.
“If we average semifinals for the rest of the year, we’ll be able to hold the big trophy at the end,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s all about momentum and consistency.”
Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better at all eight Pro Stock races this season, including third or better in the last seven. She was No. 2 in Topeka and knocked Deric Kramer in the first round, getting the win when Kramer red-lit.
She then took out No. 7 qualifier Vieri Gaines in round two with a .029-second reaction time and 6.653 at 206.92 mph. Gaines was .058 on the Christmas Tree and slowed to a pass of 15.614 seconds at 54.74 mph.
Then in the semifinals against good friend Allen Johnson, the two cars had identical 6.657-second elapsed times, with Enders-Stevens’ speed at 206.51 mph while Johnson went 206.32 mph. The difference was Johnson’s .022 light; Enders-Stevens was .046 on the Tree.
“We had a good car,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were right there with A.J. The ball was in my court and I missed it. It happens and we’re going to pack up and go on to Englishtown (N.J.). The great news is we have an awesome team.
“We’re going to be fine. I’m disappointed, but there are a lot of other teams that would have loved to have gone to the semi’s today.”
Enders-Stevens and her Elite team were understaffed in Topeka because co-crew chief Rickie Jones and engine maintenance man Jake Hairston were not available. Team owner Richard Freeman jumped in to help with whatever task was needed, and the Elite team performed well.
“We did pretty well with what we had, and my team performed well under pressure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were under a rushed schedule, as NHRA gave us 50-minute turnarounds. We were thrashing because we were down two guys this weekend, and everybody was pitching in to help. Everyone pulled their weight and performed really well under pressure, and I’m proud of them.”