NORWALK, OH — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports team have qualified lower than fourth only two times in 2015, but she sat No. 7 heading into the final session of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Summit Motorsports Park.
That’s when the fireworks show began.
Enders blistered the track with a pass of 6.532 seconds at 211.23 mph in the final qualifying session to secure her fifth No. 1 of the season and 17th of her career.
“It was definitely not where we’re typically at throughout the first three qualifying sessions, but we were just testing,” Enders said. “I tried to remind myself what exactly we were doing in the first three qualifying runs. We were all joking back in the pit, ‘Man, we stink this weekend. We’re not doing a good job.’ But we were joking.”
That was proven in Q4.
“We’re one of the teams that doesn’t do as much testing, so we use qualifying runs as our test sessions,” Enders said. “We were just trying some new stuff and trying to learn, and we took what we did learn and applied it to this fourth session. We wanted to get after it a little bit, and we were able to do just that.”
Enders, the 2014 Pro Stock world champion, faces No. 16 qualifier Alan Prusiensky in the first round Sunday as she tries to defend her Norwalk race victory from a year ago. Prusiensky’s best pass was a 6.690 at 206.80 mph.
“Regardless of the track conditions and the weather, we can still apply what we did tonight to tomorrow’s runs,” Enders said. “The first session Saturday and the first session Friday, the weather was more similar to what it’s going to be like tomorrow. We used those as baseline, race-day runs, and it leaves me feeling confident. I know what my guys are capable of, I know we have a great race car underneath me, and Norwalk’s been really good to us in the past.”
Enders has four victories this year, repeating wins in Las Vegas, Houston, and Bristol, Tenn., from 2014.
“Being the defending champ here in Norwalk is cool,” Enders said. “But tomorrow we’ve got our work cut out for us.”