Erica Enders returns to the top, snaring provisional No. 1 in Denver

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Denver 2016

DENVER, CO — She’s back!

Two-time champion Erica Enders returned to the top of the Pro Stock charts, grabbing the provisional No. 1 spot for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on Friday at Bandimere Speedway.

Enders dominated the class the past two seasons, winning 15 races and the championship in 2014 and 2015, but a change in rules and a switch to Mopar precipitated a small step back this season as her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team worked to develop a new Dodge Dart and new fuel-injected engines.

“What better race to have a turnaround weekend than at our sponsor’s event, the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals,” Enders said. “It might come as a shock to a lot of people because we’ve been running toward the back of the pack all year, but it just goes to show that hard work and determination pay off.

“Week in and week, we’ve come out here and qualified in the bottom half of the field, but my guys never got discouraged. They went home and went to work. That’s what I attribute that to.”

Enders’ best qualifying spot this season has been fifth, in Las Vegas. After winning nine races and 58 rounds in 2015, she has only five round-wins this year and sits outside the top 10 in the Pro Stock points standings, but her Elite Performance team continues to work on its engines, making big gains recently.

“We came here knowing what we found on the dyno this week was pretty significant,” Enders said. “We wanted the scoreboards to dictate what we found.”

They did in the second qualifying session. After she was No. 10 in Q1, Enders saw Elite/Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. make a terrific pass in Q2. She then went to the top with a run of 6.963 seconds at 197.71 mph.

“First run, we had to do some fine-tuning with the fuel,” Enders said. “We were able to make a really great run in the second session, and there’s definitely room for improvement on the graphs. That’s also encouraging. I’m just so proud of the hard work they’ve put in.”

Should it hold up, Enders would have the 19th No. 1 qualifier of her career.

“I’m not one to really get excited until the fat lady sings,” Enders said. “It was really nice to hear us stay on top after the really quick guys finished running. Tomorrow, you never know. Tonight was a really late run, and if the weather looks good tomorrow, hopefully we run on schedule and won’t have such great conditions tomorrow evening and we’ll be able stay on top.

“But our goal tomorrow is to get our race-day setup ready to go, stay consistent, and keep repeating.”

Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying action from 9 to 10 p.m., Saturday. FOX will carry eliminations live from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in MDT).