LAS VEGAS, NV — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders seems to be able to do anything she wants behind the wheel of a Pro Stock race car.
Enders won her second consecutive NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, clinching the title in the second round, and then won the NHRA Toyota Nationals with a perfect reaction time in the final round.
Enders became the 33rd driver in NHRA history to win multiple championships and the ninth in the Pro Stock class. She’s also the first back-to-back champion in NHRA since 2011-12, when Eddie Krawiec won the Pro Stock Motorcycle title.
Enders is the first to win consecutive Pro Stock titles since the legendary Jeg Coughlin Jr. accomplished the feat in 2007-08.
“It’s just an incredible day,” Enders said. “I’m kind of speechless. Vegas has always been really good to me, and it’s nice to keep our streak going with now 22 consecutive round-wins. It’s mind-boggling.
“We came into the weekend and everyone was talking about the championship — what we have to do, crunching points and all that. My crew chiefs (Rick and Rickie Jones, Mark Ingersoll, and Brian Self) and I decided we weren’t going to talk about that and just take things one round at a time. Our goal was to make it 22 (in a row). It’s an incredible thing to accomplish. The streak we have here is incredible. I’m excited to be part of such a great group like Elite Motorsports.”
Enders has won the last four national events and the last two K&N Horsepower Challenge races in Las Vegas, running her consecutive round-win streak here to 22.
Her 20th consecutive round-win clinched the championship. Greg Anderson, Chris McGaha, and Drew Skillman were the only Pro Stock drivers with a chance to extend the points battle to the season-finale in Pomona, Calif., in two weeks, but Anderson lost to Vincent Nobile and McGaha fell to Bo Butner.
So when Enders knocked out Shane Gray with a round-low pass of 6.596 seconds at 209.39 mph, Enders had the championship locked up.
“After watching my teammate Vincent beat Greg second round, I got excited, of course, because I knew what could happen,” Enders said. “Then I thought, ‘We have to win this round.’ I fire the car, pull into the waterbox, and all my guys are jumping around, clapping, and I’m just trying to get my composure and get my heart rate down.”
Enders then beat teammate Skillman in the semifinals when Skillman left .004-second too soon, setting up a final-round match with Butner.
“I knew it was going to be a tough race against a drive like Bo, who I know is hungry for his first win,” Enders said. “To be able to cap the second championship off with another win in Vegas is just crazy.”
The victory was her ninth of the season and 21st of what is becoming a hall-of-fame career. She has won 15 of the last 45 races she’s entered with the Richard Freeman-owned Elite team.
“Finally I feel like I’m home with this group of guys,” Enders said. “I couldn’t have dreamed up a better crew. We truly get along, we have such great chemistry, and most importantly we have fun together. That’s why we’re so successful on the racetrack. Horsepower doesn’t hurt, but we don’t have the biggest budget. We get it done because of the people. It’s been a long road, but I’m glad to be where I’m at. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”