Champ Enders-Stevens pulls runner-up card in the desert

Erica Enders-Stevens reaches final round in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Progressing through the elimination ladder once again, reining World Champion Erica Enders-Stevens came up one win light short of victory at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Taking on No. 16 Joey Grose in the first round of final eliminations, Enders-Stevens was able to power her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on with a win after Grose experienced an issue with his car early in the run.

In the second round against Greg Anderson, Enders-Stevens cut a .013 light and never looked back, running a 6.570 to beat Anderson’s 6.603 and advance to her second semifinal of the year.

However, the semifinal round was a tight battle in which both her and Chris McGaha had almost identical reaction times, her .027 to his .026. McGaha’s car stepped out and swerved partway down the track though, allowing Enders-Stevens to cruise on to her first final-round appearance of the 2015 season.

“What a great weekend for Elite Motorsports and Elite Performance,” Enders-Stevens said. “It speaks volumes for our team, how hard they work and their determination for perfection. To be three of the final four cars two weeks in a row is unreal. The morale is awesome around here. It’s three different groups but it’s really one team.

“I know I talk about my team a lot, but that’s the most important part of the puzzle. We certainly have a great group of guys, and I couldn’t be more blessed to be a part of it.”

After battling with Brogdon all weekend for the top spot in qualifying, Enders-Stevens had one more showdown with her fellow Elite Performance driver in the final round. Enders-Stevens killed the Christmas Tree with a .017 reaction time and was out in front until an untimely mechanical issue reared its head and Brogdon passed her at the line for the win.

“We’re having a blast,” Enders-Stevens said. “Did I want to win? Absolutely. It’s so hard to get to a final round in Pro Stock, so to give one away it sucks. I am very happy for Rodger though. We’re glad to have him on board as part of our team. He had the fastest car all weekend and he deserved to win.

“We were going after it in the final. I was up on the wheel and on the Tree, and we just had an unfortunate miss in the car. It’s one of those loses that kind of burns a little bit because all we had to do was get down the racetrack and we would have won. God had a better plan though, and it was Rodger’s day.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series action will continue with the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 12-15, at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Fla.