Reigning champ and current points leader Erica Enders staying afloat in Reading

READING, PA — Two days of intermittent rain washed out three of the four scheduled qualifying sessions of the NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, but reigning series champ and current Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates were ready for the lone run they were afforded, qualifying sixth with a safe 6.537-second pass at 213.13 mph.

“It’s always nerve-racking going down a track when the surface temperature is 60 degrees, it’s really cold and damp and the dew point is way up there, but that’s where my guys really show how great they are,” Enders said. “We just went up there and made a very, very conservative run because we really didn’t know at that point if we’d get another session in or if it would start raining again.

“We played it safe and although the car kinda moved around a little bit and the tires were spinning, we got in the top half of the field, which is really what you want. Obviously, the e.t. we posted by no means shows our hand, so I’m really excited for tomorrow.”

Enders has been to four final rounds in a row, winning three races in a row before settling for runner-up against her teammate Drew Skillman last weekend in St. Louis. She entered the weekend 113 points ahead of her closest rival in the points, which equates to almost six rounds of elimination racing. There are only 16 rounds left in the season, so a big race day here could make it very tough on the other contenders.

“It’s been one of those weekends when we just wait and wait and wait,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens. “Honestly, it’s more exhausting doing nothing than when you’re busy. They say tomorrow is supposed to look better weather-wise and we’re all excited about that for sure. Once again I’m on the opposite side of the ladder from Drew, so we will just see if we can go to work tomorrow, repeat what happened in St. Louis, and spread the gap on everyone else.”

As the No. 6 qualifier, Enders will open elimination action with lane choice over part-time racer Kenny Delco, who posted a 6.606 at 207.15 mph in his lone trip down Maple Grove.

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m., with ESPN2 carrying all the action Sunday evening.