CHICAGO, IL — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders returns to where all of her professional success started, Route 66 Raceway, for the K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals this weekend.
Four years ago, Enders was still fighting for her first victory, racing to six final rounds over her career but without sealing the deal. However, when Enders and her team got to Chicago, they felt really good about their chances.
“I remember that day like it was yesterday,” Enders said. “When we got to the track on Thursday — I don’t know why but it happens at a handful of racetracks — we had a good feeling when we walked through he gate. I was always hopeful that whatever track we were at would be the track where I got my first win, but that was definitely an awesome weekend.
“I’m sure when I get back there it will all come flooding back. That was one of the better days, for sure.”
Enders qualified third that weekend, but rain delayed the start of eliminations. Finally, she dispatched Kurt Johnson, Vincent Nobile, V. Gaines, and Greg Anderson to secure her first career victory.
“I remember there was a long rain delay, and we didn’t start first round until almost 4 o’clock, so it was a long drawn-out day,” Enders said. “It was really cool to come out on top. There are pictures proudly hanging in my office of the winner’s circle when my guys doused me with beer. It was awesome.”
Enders became the first woman to win in the Pro Stock class, and that victory launched a spectacular career. She won three more races in 2012 and two in 2013 before moving to Elite Motorsports for the 2014 season. Enders then won six times and the 2014 Pro Stock championship and had an even better season last year. She won nine races and the Pro Stock title one more time, and Enders was recently awarded an ESPY nomination for Best Driver for that accomplishment.
“I love Chicago and I always have, even when I raced Sportsman there in the early years of the track,” Enders said. “It definitely holds a lot of really special memories for me. It’s where we finally won our first Pro Stock race, and that was a night to remember.”
Of course, Enders would love to repeat her 2012 performance this season, her first with the Elite/Mopar Dodge. The team continues to develop the new Dart and new fuel-injected engines, but progress is being made.
“We’ve had some down times since the East Coast swing, but my guys have been working really hard in the engine shop,” Enders said. “Hopefully, the scoreboards will show some of the progress that we’ve made.”
In addition to racing her Pro Stock Dodge, she’s entered in Super Gas with the ORTEQ Energy Technologies roadster for owners Cody Ortowski and Buddy Wood.
Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5:15 and 7:45 p.m., Friday, and 3:15 and 6 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action from 10 p.m. to midnight ET, Saturday and eliminations live beginning at 2 p.m., Sunday.