ATLANTA, GA — Reigning back-to-back Pro Stock champion Erica Enders knew she left on first-round opponent Chris McGaha, and as she went through the gears of her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart a big smile started to cross her face.
Then, in an instant, it was gone, as a big bump in her lane upset her race car enough that it shot towards the centerline. Although the 21-time national event winner didn’t give up on the run, the tire spin she encountered out of the racing groove allowed McGaha to slip past her and take the win by .008-second.
“That was the best run we made all weekend with this car,” Enders said. “My driving was on and the guys gave me a great tune-up. We should’ve won that race. It really upsets me we lost a race because of something out of our control. There’s a huge bump out there. Just look at how many cars have gotten out of shape. It is a huge safety issue for our class.”
Enders left the starting line with a tremendous .021-second reaction time, which when compared with McGaha’s .033 launch was more than enough to give her the victory, but she slowed to a 6.644 at 207.91 mph after hitting the bump, which allowed McGaha to squeak by with his 6.624 at 208.33 mph.
“We know we’re not where we want to be with our tune-up, and that’s why we’re testing every chance we get and running the engine dyno non-stop,” Enders said. “And we also know if we had qualified better we would’ve had lane choice in that round. It still doesn’t make up for losing a race we should’ve won.
“I know I have the best team out here — we’ve proven that the last two years — and no one is complaining. I just want to give my guys something to smile about and that was a golden opportunity right there.
“I guess the best news out of this weekend is we’ve made a bunch more progress and also we only have a few days to wait until we race again so we can get this bad taste out of our mouths.”
The 28th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals runs May 20-22 at Heartland Park Topeka.
Today’s race will air from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET. on FOX Sports 1.