INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1) — A Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory may have slipped through Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens’ fingers, but she still leaves Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on Monday very proud.
Enders-Stevens dropped a second-round match to Dave Connolly, but she will be the No. 2 seed when the Countdown to the Championship begins in two weeks at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, NC.
“Even though we didn’t win the U.S. Nationals, and that was our goal, we can leave here with our heads held high,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got a good car and the best team in the sport. It would’ve been nice to win here, but it starts to matter at the next event.”
Enders-Stevens has had a dream season, winning four national events and the K&N Horsepower Challenge. She led the points standings for 13 races before slipping to second in Brainerd, MN.
“I think we’re going to go in the No. 2 spot,” Enders-Stevens said. “Obviously our goal is to go in as the No. 1 seed, but it’s not detrimental to what the outcome’s going to be.”
Enders-Stevens started her 2014 U.S. Nationals with a race against her husband Richie Stevens, who joined Elite Motorsports for this race and beyond. She got the jump on Stevens with a .022-second reaction time and led the entire race, winning with a pass of 6.619 seconds at 208.52 mph. Stevens’ pass was 6.643 seconds at 208.52 mph.
“That’s my job,” Enders-Stevens said. “I have to put aside who’s in the other lane and just execute. That’s what we did first round and we did it second round, too, but it just didn’t end up being our day. We didn’t have lane choice and we struggled over there.
“I hate that Richie lost. I’m glad that we won but it’s bittersweet. I’m stoked that we picked up 20 points, but at the same time I hate that Richie’s debut wasn’t what any of us at Elite Motorsports had planned for it to be. But our job is to win rounds, despite who’s over there.”
In the second round, Enders-Stevens made a pass of 6.622 seconds at 208.88 mph but couldn’t get around Connolly, whose run was 6.613 seconds at 207.82 mph.
Enders-Stevens and her team made improvements throughout the weekend, giving her confidence for Charlotte and the Countdown.
“I’m really proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have so much heart. It would have been easy to get frustrated, get negative, and give up when things weren’t going as we had planned them to go when we got here.
“We spent a few days testing in St. Louis to get our cars — mine and Richie’s and Shane (Tucker’s) — sorted out. It didn’t go as planned when we stepped foot on the property here, but they dug deep and we ended up being second-quickest of the runs in eliminations. Even the round we lost, we were the quickest in that lane by a couple of hundredths, so that says a lot about my crew chiefs and my entire team.”