TOPEKA, KS — The decision to bring out a new Chevrolet Camaro midway through the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season paid record dividends for Erica Enders during the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Friday at Heartland Park Topeka.
The 2014 Pro Stock champion set track elapsed-time and speed records with her new Elite Motorsports Chevy to snare the provisional No. 1 qualifier. Her pass of 6.515 seconds at 211.43 mph in the first qualifying session broke the e.t. record of 6.566 seconds set by Jason Line in May 2012 and the speed record of 211.30 mph set by Greg Anderson, also in May 2012.
“It’s been awesome,” Enders said. “We’ve had a really good hot rod for most of the year, and we brought out a new race car in Atlanta last week, so we feel like we’re taking baby steps to get it to run the way we want to. It’s proving to be an awesome race car so far.
“The weather is a little bit uncharacteristic of this time of year up here, so it’s cool to capture the record, but we’ve got our work cut out for us, as we always do. Pro Stock is super competitive, and I’m just really proud of my guys for running this well.”
The crew chief trio of Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll have been dialing in the new car, which debuted in Atlanta with a No. 2 qualifier and a semifinal finish. Enders credited a quick launch of the car in Topeka with her quick times.
“I have three tremendous crew chiefs, Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll,” Enders said. “They were up yesterday looking at the track and today as well. Between that, they were tracking weather and putting the best setup we possibly could in our car. We picked it up at 60 feet. We’re not a top 60-foot team, and today, both times, we’ve been No. 1 or No. 2. The car is leaving really nice and smooth, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Cooler temperatures descended on Heartland Park on Friday, and Enders expected to pick up in Q2. She was quickest of the round, though she slowed slightly with a pass of 6.520 seconds at 210.93 mph.
“We thought it would be a little faster tonight,” Enders said. “My crew chiefs said we’d go a .51 first round, and we did. Tonight, we figured we’d be able to improve and run a low .50 or a high .49, and the water kinda moved in quickly while we were up there, so that’s what slowed it down a little bit.”
More water, in the form of rain, is expected Saturday, which could wash out the final two qualifying sessions. Still, Enders and her team are planning for Sunday’s eliminations.
“Since we’re sitting in the top position, we’ll keep trying to be consistent and bettering our runs and perfect that race-day setup,” Enders said.