World champion Erica Enders beats title contender Butner before fouling out of Reading

Erica Enders | NHRA Dodge Nationals 2016

READING, PA — Back-to-back world champion Erica Enders notched one of her biggest elimination round-wins of the year Sunday, beating title contender Bo Butner wire-to-wire in the opening session of the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.

“To go out there and get this Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart a round-win at the Dodge Nationals was exciting,” Enders said. “The uphill battle this entire season has been for us continues, but with only one run on this racetrack throughout qualifying, we really had a challenge before us today and my guys, as always, rose to the occasion.

“People always hear me bragging on my crew, and today showed exactly why I do it all the time. These guys are the best, and at a point in the season where it would be easy to mail it in, they fought hard, dug down, and gave me a great race car that took out one of the best cars in the category this year.”

Enders herself contributed to the victory, leaving ahead of Butner with a stellar .019-second reaction time. Butner wasn’t far behind after a .029-second launch, but he didn’t have the horsepower to catch the sport’s most prolific female Pro Stock racer, losing to Enders at both ends, 6.644 at 207.34 mph to his 6.647 at 209.43 mph.

“That round-win allowed our teammate, Vincent Nobile, to pass Bo and go into third place, and then Vincent went on to win the whole race, so it was a big day for Elite Motorsports,” Enders said.

Nobile’s triumph at the end of the day came at Enders’ expense as he beat her in the quarterfinals en route to the victory circle. In that race Enders left too early, drawing a -.007 red-light disqualification, which negated her 6.656 at 207.72 mph. Nobile might have been too tough to beat anyway as he posted a stout 6.600 at 209.88 mph.

“That second-round race against Vincent was definitely interesting,” Enders said. “We were in and out of our race cars a couple of times because of all the rain delays. I did a burnout at one point, backed up, and had to shut off and wait again. There were a lot of variables that went into that run.

“It’s one of those shoulda, coulda, woulda deals, but either way I should not have been red. That’s disappointing to me because it ends like a five-year streak of not being red. Having said that, we would not have been able to turn that win light on. He flat out had us covered. I’m just glad it was against my teammate. He’s going to battle for the Mello Yello championship right to the end.”

The Countdown to the Championship resumes after one week off with the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, Oct. 13-16, at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.

“We’ll head home for a week to work on things,” Enders said. “We’ll be ready for Dallas and try to help Vincent some more.”