Fiery competitor Erica Enders resolute on improving after Phoenix

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock | Phoenix 2017

PHOENIX, AZ – Erica Enders’ race day in the desert ended much sooner than anticipated this morning during Round 1 of eliminations of the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the second of 24 events in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Two-time world champion Enders began Sunday qualified in the No. 10 position. Her Rick Jones Race Cars-built Chevrolet Camaro racing under the banner of Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports is a favorite to win every time out, but today she was the underdog of the opening round in a side-by-side battle against No. 7 qualifier Shane Gray.

As soon as the Christmas Tree flashed green, Enders’ bright red Camaro started shaking the big Goodyear slicks from lack of traction, which compelled Enders to begrudgingly abort her run. Gray finished with a 6.559-second, 211.23-mph mark, while Enders coasted across the finish line with a 7.961.

“We shook last (qualifying) session, but we didn’t expect to do that going up there today,” Enders said. “We weren’t set on kill or anything like that so we might have something wrong with our race car.

“The good news is we have a couple of weeks before Gainesville (next event) that we can go to work on it, the bad news is, our race day is over unfortunately. We are way better than that, and I fully expected to send that team packing first round for sure.”

Enders, the most successful female Pro Stock racer in NHRA history, has 21 national event victories. She is teammates with Elite Motorsports’ campaigners Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Vincent Nobile.

“Both my teammates Jeg Coughlin and Vincent Nobile are going rounds today,” Enders said. “Jeg has a really fast hot rod right now and has the best capability of winning the race so our focus goes to his car, and we’ll see if we can’t get one of the Elite Motorsports Elite Performance cars in the winner’s circle today.”

Enders will compete next at the famed Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, March 16-19.

FOX FS1 TV coverage of eliminations begins with three hours of elimination action at 4 p.m. MT, Sunday.