Pro Stock champ Erica Enders starts Topeka defense against Elite teammate

Erica Enders | Topeka NHRA 2016

TOPEKA, KS — Defending Pro Stock champion Erica Enders has already scored a round-win at this weekend’s NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka — and Pro Stock eliminations don’t start until Sunday.

Enders, who qualified the Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge in the No. 9 spot in Pro Stock, won a round in Super Gas earlier Saturday.

“That was fun to get a round-win in the Super Gas car,” Enders said. “It can take some time to get used to driving in Sportsman again, and even though I’ve driven that car this year, I’m still getting re-adjusted to it. But it was nice to win a round for Buddy and Cody.”

Enders drove the ORTEQ Energy Technologies roadster for owners Buddy Wood and Cody Ortowski this weekend. She had a second-round matchup with Bruce Johnson Saturday night, and the two-time Pro Stock champion went .019-second red and lost.

Enders’ best pass in her Pro Stock car was 6.643 seconds at 207.03 mph. The defending race champion squares off against Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman in the first round.

“Drew and I are friends everywhere but on the racetrack,” Enders said. “When I put on my helmet, he becomes just another driver. It was a lot of fun to work with him last year as he made the transition to Pro Stock, and I helped him as much as I could in 2015.

“But on race day, I’m going to try to beat him like I try to beat anyone else in this class. I hate that we have to race a teammate in the first round, but we all need to qualify better.”

Skillman’s best pass this weekend was 6.642 seconds at 208.07 mph, meaning their first-round matchup could come down to who gets off the starting line first.

“May the best woman win,” Enders said. “Drew’s a great driver, and he’ll be tough to beat, but our job is to do our best to send him home early.”

Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET, Saturday. Elimination action will be broadcast live from 2 to 5 p.m. ET, Sunday.