TOPEKA, KS — Fresh off a season-best runner-up finish at the last NHRA tour stop in Atlanta, two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders is looking to go “One Step Beyond” at this weekend’s 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties at Heartland Park Topeka.
“We are going to do our best to carry the momentum we picked up in Atlanta and take it to Topeka,” Enders said. “We had a great day there in our Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. All we need to do is get one step beyond that in Topeka and we’ll be back in the winner’s circle. We’d love for that to happen at Heartland Park.”
One of Enders’ 21 national event victories came at Heartland Park in 2015, a recent enough memory to further boost the confidence of the popular driver, who had a Disney Channel movie — Right on Track — made about her and sister Courtney’s early days in drag racing.
“Since the beginning of my driving career, I’ve always taken pride in what I do behind the wheel,” Enders said. “Back in 2014 and 2015, when we won our two titles, we have tried to do everything we can to win every round we race. That includes what I do behind the wheel.
“In Houston and Charlotte, two weekends in a row, I gave away two races because of what I did, nothing else. It was very hard to go back to the pits and look at the guys who had worked so hard to give me a car that would have easily won those races. In reality, they were nothing but supportive. That’s one of the many reasons this team is so awesome.”
The strong showing in Atlanta lifted Enders to seventh in the Mello Yello points and also restored her confidence. Newly rejuvenated, she hopes to further close the gap on the top runners in Topeka, so she’s placing a premium on going rounds.
“Atlanta made me feel like I turned the page on what had happened the previous two races,” Enders said. “I felt like I put it behind me and taking two of those three round wins on holeshots gave me some measure of redemption.
“The next test comes this weekend. We are all excited to get there, and that includes my teammates Jeg Coughlin and Vincent Nobile. They’re running strong also and our goal of being 1-2-3 at every race is getting closer.”
Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at 12 p.m., Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins at 10 p.m., Friday, followed by a live qualifying show at 2 p.m., Saturday. Elimination action also will be shown live starting at 1 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change).