NORWALK, Ohio — Erica Enders-Stevens will take a dominant Elite Motorsports Camaro into final eliminations for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park.
Enders-Stevens was quickest in all four qualifying sessions this weekend, earning her second No. 1 of the season, the eighth of her career and second in Norwalk.
“We’ve got a really consistent hot rod right now,” said Enders-Stevens, who also was No. 1 here in 2011. “(Crew chiefs) Rick and Rickie Jones have got the setup down pat. In the first session today we used as our race day setup because those will be the conditions we’re going to race under tomorrow. We had the worst lane for Pro Stock, the left lane, and we went up there and tried some things that are going to work for tomorrow, hopefully.
“I’m just really proud of my team, proud to be their driver. Consistency is what’s going to get it done.”
Enders-Stevens’ best pass was 6.523 seconds at 212.63, lowering the track record in both categories. The Pro Stock points leader will line up against No. 16 qualifier Travis Mazza in the first round Sunday. Mazza will make his first career start after a pass of 7.365 seconds at 200.86 mph.
Earning bonus points from qualifying will increase Enders-Stevens’ points lead, which was 190 coming into the race.
“It’s the first time it’s happened in my Pro Stock career, but we’ve got a lot of racing left,” Enders-Stevens said. “We try to put that aside and just try to be consistent week in and week out. That’s what’s going to get it done. It’s pretty surreal. For me, I’ve watched a lot of these guys since I was a kid. It’s an honor to be where I’m at. Very humbling and exciting.”
Enders-Stevens brought a renewed attitude to Norwalk after a talk with Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden earlier this week. Enders-Stevens has been in a minor slump on the starting line, but Glidden pumped her up with some positive reinforcement as well as good advice about the race car.
“Bob called me and he was like, ‘Erica, what the hell is going on?’ ” Enders-Stevens said. “We talked for almost an hour and went over almost every aspect of it.”
One suggestion Glidden made was for Enders-Stevens to talk to the father-son crew chief team about changes made to the race car and how it affected her driving.
“Things are coming around,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve had good reaction times through qualifying, and we’ll see if that parlays over into race day. I just have a new outlook. I need to enjoy where I’m at. I’ve been having fun, but I’ve been putting a little too much pressure on myself. I needed to get the head game side of it straight, and I feel good this weekend. I feel confident and I’m not stressed out anymore.”