READING, Pa. (Oct. 4) — Erica Enders-Stevens came within two thousandths of a second of her own NHRA national record Saturday night, running a lightning-quick 6.465-second, 213.16-mph quarter-mile pass down historic Maple Grove Raceway to earn her fifth low qualifier award of the 2014 season.
The stunning performance comes at a pivotal time for Enders-Stevens as she continues to chase down current points leader Jason Line with just three national events left on the schedule.
“Every point matters in this championship countdown and if we can run just a little bit quicker tomorrow and reset the national record one more time than we’d get 20 bonus points, which would be huge,” said Enders-Stevens, who held the points lead for a class-leading 13 races this year. “No matter what, we gained some ground with all the qualifying bonus points we’ve already picked up so we’re already pretty happy.
“It got cooler overnight and Rick and Rickie (Jones, father/son co-crew chiefs) did an awesome job of reading the conditions and getting after the track in Q4. We missed the record by two thou but it was a pretty big thrill any way. Normally Rickie gets on the radio and tells me what I’ve run after I throw the ‘chutes but this time he was just screaming so I knew we’d made a good pass. I starting screaming myself.”
Enders-Stevens entered this event 67 points, or about three rounds of action, behind Line. Her Elite Motorsports Camaro was the quickest car in three of the four qualifying sessions and second quickest in the other, yielding her 11 bonus points. Line earned just one bonus point during qualifying.
“We’re less than three rounds behind him now and with a national record pending we could be even closer,” Enders-Stevens said. “My team owner (Richard Freeman) reminded me right after the run that we already have the back-up run in place to set a national record so now all we have to do is go out there and do it.
“Of course that’s easier said than done and if we can run the record than a few other cars can as well so we won’t count any points until we have them. The bottom line is we need to go rounds tomorrow and try to win. If we can do that and set the record as well then we could have a big day. I do know that I’m on the best team with the best crew in the sport. I’m a lucky girl and I’m loving every minute of this season.”
Stevens has four victories this year in five final-round showings. She’ll begin her quest for another Wally trophy opposite No. 16 qualifier Frank Gugliotta, who topped out at 6.599 at 208.68 mph. Eliminations begin at noon with action being carried on ESPN2.