CHARLOTTE, NC — After two years of running roughshod over the competition in winning back-to-back Pro Stock world championships, Erica Enders has come back to the pack this year in her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart. Her seasoned race crew and engine builders knew it wasn’t going to be easy switching from another brand to Mopar and the Hemi powerplant, and the growing pains they’ve experienced in the first four and a half races would cripple most teams, but not Enders’ group.
“We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last few years,” Enders said at the conclusion of qualifying for this weekend’s seventh annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods. “This is a pit full of multi-time champions and I wouldn’t change a thing about this team. They have proven time and again to be the best in the sport. It’s just not an easy thing to jump from one manufacturer to another. There’s going to be hiccups and we knew that coming into the season.
“Sure, it’s frustrating when you don’t run well and we did expect to be a little better this weekend than what we’ve shown so far, but we will stick to the master plan (team owner) Richard Freeman drew up when we signed with Mopar and keep on marching forward.”
Under the unique four-wide format, Enders — who qualified 10th with a 6.644 at 207.08 mph — will hope to be one of the two-quickest cars in her Round 1 foursome that will advance to the second round. She will be racing Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman (No. 2 qualifier with a 6.583), Alex Laughlin (seventh with a 6.611), and John Gaydosh Jr. (15th with a 6.762).
“The biggest bummer is seeing my guys and how hard they’re working and then not seeing positive results on the racetrack,” Enders said. “I’m more proud of them now then I’ve ever been because the determination and perseverance they’re showing is just incredible.
“Two cars out of each foursome advance, so our goal is to be one of those two cars. We know Drew has a great race car, so hopefully it will be him and I moving on, but I know it’s going to be tough.
“We’ve already got dinner cooking and no one is leaving until they are 100 percent satisfied that we have a race car capable of winning tomorrow. I’ll certainly do my best behind the wheel and we’ll take our chances.”
Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying action from 10 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, and elimination racing from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sunday. All times are listed in Eastern time zone.