EPPING, NH — Reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will try to add to her class-leading three victories Sunday at New England Dragway from the No. 4 qualifying spot. The popular pro posted a best run of 6.543 at 211.99 mph in her Elite Motorsports Camaro to earn the slot, placing herself right in the middle of the top title contenders.
The No. 4 starting spot was lucky for Enders in her hometown of Houston, where she went on to win the event. She’s also won from the No. 1 spot (Topeka) and the No. 2 position (Las Vegas).
“The bottom line is you need to be prepared to beat everyone if you expect to win the race, regardless of where you qualify,” Enders said. “You come into a race with the initial goal of qualifying for eliminations. Then you aim for being in the top half of the field so you have lane choice in Round 1. Then you try to get as many bonus point as you can each qualifying session. Then if you’re lucky, you’re on the pole. We’ve clicked off all of those things but one so we’re very happy.
“Tomorrow’s a new day. We’ll have lane choice but we still need to race hard. Having that No. 1 on the door (denoting her champion status) brings out the best in everyone we race. People drag their best stuff up there when they know we’re in the other lane and everyone takes their best shot. It’s been an adjustment for us, but we’re used to now. We have a lot of confidence in our car, our horsepower and our abilities.”
The NHRA returned to New England Dragway just two years ago so the track is one of the places Enders has yet to score a victory, something she’d love to change Sunday.
“The fans up here are insane,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock racer Richie Stevens. “They love sports, all kinds of sports, and they have absolutely packed this place the last two days. I think it’s really awesome that we’re back in this market. It’s important to bring the top level of drag racing to these fans.
“One of the things you always dream about is winning at every racetrack. It would just be such a cool thing to be able to say. I don’t think many drivers have won at every track and since we’ve only raced here twice, it’s one everyone wants to check off their list, including us.”
As the fourth-best qualifier, Enders will open eliminations against Vieri Gaines, who qualified 13th on the ladder with a 6.643 at 211.00 mph.
ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 7:30-10 p.m., Saturday, and the elimination rounds from 5-8 p.m., Sunday.