LAS VEGAS, NV — The streak is over. Long live the streak?
Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders extended her consecutive round-win streak at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to 23 on Saturday before falling to Jason Line in the second round of the K&N Horsepower Challenge, snapping a winning spree that lasted more than two years.
Enders looks to start a new streak on Sunday when she races in the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, the regular national event here at The Strip.
“I didn’t want it to end but there was a plan that was different than mine,” Enders said. “You know it’s disappointing on one hand, but, wow, what an accomplishment on the other. We’ve got to keep positive and focus on tomorrow.”
Enders did make her best qualifying effort of the season in her new Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge, as she’ll start eliminations from the No. 5 spot. Enders ‘ best pass was 6.711 seconds at 204.63 mph as she starts from the top half of the field for the first time in 2016.
“We definitely made some strides in the right direction,” Enders said. “It’s definitely nice to be a little more solid in the top half. We obviously still have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be, but fifth isn’t a bad position to start, especially considering the people who are ahead of me: The three KB (Racing) cars that have just lit the world on fire this year and then my Elite Motorsports teammate, Drew Skillman. It’s cool that it’s three KB cars and then three Elite Motorsports cars.”
Enders has won the last four national events in Las Vegas and the last two K&N Horsepower Challenge races here. She ran her streak to 23 round-wins in a row by beating Allen Johnson in the first round of the K&N Challenge with a pass of 6.755 seconds at 204.60. She got off the line first with a .016-second reaction time and outran Johnson, whose pass was 6.789 seconds at 204.73 mph.
She then faced KB Racing’s Line in the second round, and though she left first with a .021 light, Line’s pass of 6.720 seconds at 205.94 mph beat her run of 6.810 seconds at 204.39 mph.
“Being first out without lane choice is pretty hard,” Enders said. “Having said that, I think that we can go back to our setup where we made our good run and have a consistent race car that’s within striking distance.”
Enders will look to start a new winning streak in the first round Sunday when she faces No. 12 qualifier Aaron Strong (6.750 at 204.6 mph).
“We’re not at the top of the pack, but we’ll keep making strides in the right direction and we’ll get better,” Enders said. “It’s just a matter of time until we’re back to our winning ways.”