BRAINERD, MN — When the calendar turns to Sunday, two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team know anything can happen.
So though Enders qualified No. 11 for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Brainerd International Raceway, she is confident in her and her team’s ability to make things happen.
“Sunday is a whole different day,” Enders said. “You just look at what happened in Seattle. It’s anybody’s day on race day, and you go out there with the mentality that we always do: It’s crunch time right now. We’ve got two race days left before the Countdown, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ll see what happens.”
Enders jumped into the top 10 in the Pro Stock points standings in Seattle, and she leads Alex Laughlin by nine points heading into Brainerd. Two races remain before the Countdown to the Championship begins, and only the top 10 get a chance to race for the 2016 title.
Enders’ best qualifying time in Brainerd was 6.660 seconds at 207.08 mph, but that was an improvement over Friday’s performance.
“Friday was definitely one of the worst days, for sure,” Enders said. “The fact that we were able to go from A to B today is pretty significant. It’s humbling that we’re this deep into the season and still are struggling as much as we are.
“But at the same time, I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anybody else other than the group of people we have at Elite Motorsports.”
Drivability issues limited Enders on Friday, but her and her Elite team simply went to work.
“As frustrated as they are, they still are so determined and so passionate about what they do,” Enders said. “They put their heads down and get to work. It was a long night last night, especially for our EFI guys. They came back today with a whole new setup for these cars, and for (teammate) Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) and I to be able to have good drivability with these cars is pretty crucial. We haven’t been able to stage and do the best burnouts or backups smoothly.”
That did happen Saturday, when Enders made two somewhat conservative runs.
“Everything went as planned today, “Enders said. “That was a baseline run for us in Q2 because he and I had two bad runs yesterday. They were very conservative, get-down-the-racetrack runs. We have a lot of room to improve.”
Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air eliminations live from 1 to 4 p.m. CT, Sunday.