DALLAS (Sept. 20) — Texas native Erica Enders-Stevens will go for the Lone Star sweep during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Sunday at Texas Motorplex with her Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet.
Enders-Stevens won at her home track, Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, in April. She’ll chase the Texas two-step from the No. 6 qualifying spot on Sunday.
“Tomorrow is going to be the hottest, sunniest day of all,” Enders-Stevens said. “We obviously performed well in those conditions. I’m optimistic about tomorrow, and the ladder looks nice. We’ll see what happens.”
Enders-Stevens, debuting Mach 1 colors in Dallas, can’t win two races this weekend, as she dropped a second-round match on Saturday to Shane Gray in a continuation of the postponed NHRA Carolinas Nationals from zMax Dragway.
That came after making the third-quickest pass in Dallas’ first qualifying session Friday and then beating John Gaydosh in the Charlotte first round during Dallas Q2.
Enders-Stevens left first on Gaydosh and never trailed, making a pass of 6.603 seconds at 206.29 mph to Gaydosh’s 6.662-second run at 207.53 mph.
“We made a decent run but definitely had some left in it,” Enders-Stevens said of Q1. “Going up for Q2, which is the first round of eliminations from Charlotte, we had a little bit of a different mindset because it’s hard to go from qualifying to race mode in what really should be a qualifying session. We did all right.”
Enders-Stevens, the No. 1 qualifier from Charlotte, then faced Gray, the No. 8 qualifier. Gray was given lane choice based on his performance in Friday’s qualifying session, not Charlotte eliminations.
“NHRA made a rule change on the lane choice aspect of it, which was very detrimental to our team,” Enders-Stevens said. “Obviously, it was a one-lane race facility, and that was the end of that. It’s unfortunate that things were handled that way when the championship is on the line, but it is what it is.”
To make matters worse for Enders-Stevens, several single-car runs were made, all in the preferred right lane. Gray chose that lane, putting Enders-Stevens in the left lane.
“Lane choice is crucial,” Enders-Stevens said. “Friday it wasn’t; both lanes were pretty equal. Today, though, before the second round of eliminations, they ran several singles in the right lane, then drug the track and sent us out. Nobody had run in front of that person in the left lane.”
Enders-Stevens left first with a .025-second lead, but her red Camaro made an immediate right turn, and she had to push the clutch in as Gray sped to the victory.
“We lost that round, and we turned everything back around and came out for Q4 and made a decent run for the heat of the day,” Enders-Stevens said. “It was a 130-degree racetrack and really tricky out there. We definitely had some left in it on that run.”
That turned out to be her best pass of the weekend, 6.590 seconds at 210.74 mph, to move her to sixth in the qualifying order. She’ll line up against No. 11 qualifier Rodger Brogdon, whose best pass was 6.615 seconds at 209.79 mph.
“It’s going to be a toss-up tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to really monitor the weather and the track conditions and base our tune-up accordingly. We’ll be all right. I’ve got two of the best crew chiefs in the pits and the best team out here. I’m excited and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Enders-Stevens unofficially remains second in the Pro Stock standings, 59 points behind leader Jason Line after one of six races in the Countdown to the Championship.