NHRA’s red hot Enders-Stevens set to scorch Atlanta

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ATLANTA, GA — No one in the NHRA Drag Racing Series has amassed more championship points in the first quarter of the season than reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders, who arrives at Atlanta Dragway for this weekend’s 35th annual Summit Southern Nationals on a two-race winning streak.

“We’re definitely on a roll and we want to keep it up,” said Enders, a native Texan who now lives in New Orleans with husband and fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens. “What better place to do that than Atlanta Dragway? This is the home race for Coca-Cola and we always want to put our best foot forward for them. They’ve sponsored our series ever since I’ve been a pro and we love ’em.”

The wildly popular Enders became the first woman in Pro Stock history to win the title last year, joining Shirley Muldowney (Top Fuel) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) as the only women to win major motorsports championships. She used six victories and a remarkable elimination round record of 45-16 to get the job done.

This year, Enders and her Elite Motorsports crew already are ahead of last year’s pace with two victories and a 14-4 raceday mark through six races.

“It’s weird because it seems like we could be even further ahead than we are,” Enders said. “We started the year with a beautiful new Rick Jones Camaro but had a little trouble adjusting to the new tires and fuel mandated by the NHRA so we switched back to the car we won the championship with last year. That new car is so state-of-the-art we know it’s going to be even better when we get it dialed in. I really believe our best day are ahead of us.”

That’s probably not what Enders’ opponents want to hear as the 31-year-old hasn’t lost a round in eliminations since late March in Charlotte.

“Our team owner, Richard Freeman, has a knack for finding the right people, putting them in positions where they can succeed and getting the best out of them,” Enders said. “I look at Rick and Rickie (Jones, father/son co-crew chiefs), Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston, who build our motors, all the crew guys, the people back at the shop, it’s just a group of winners.

“I’m living the dream right now. It took years to get to this point and plenty of highs and lows along the way, but this reward makes it all worthwhile. There is no better feeling as a driver than pulling through the gates at the track knowing you have a racecar and team that’s capable of winning that race. We have that every weekend.”

Enders has never won at Atlanta but she was the top qualifier last year. She’s qualified in the No. 1 spot twice this season, in Pomona, Calif., and Phoenix.

Qualifying rounds will take place at 3:45 and 6:15 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 2:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all the action.