DENVER, CO — Erica Enders’ Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro has been the second-quickest racecar after all three Pro Stock qualifying sessions contested this weekend at Bandimere Speedway as the world’s best quarter-mile drag racers line themselves up for the elimination rounds of the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.
Now she just needs to figure out how to end race day one spot better.
“We have a really fast hot rod here and we are going into race day No. 2 on the ladder so I’m super pleased with our performance so far,” Enders said. “We have certainly worked really hard at getting this car ready, especially with some extra testing last week in Tulsa before heading out on this three-race Western Swing, so I think we’ll be a tough out tomorrow.
“All credit to my guys, starting at the top with our team owner Richard Freeman, our quartet of crew chiefs — Rick and Rickie Jones, Mark Ingersoll and Brian Self, Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston on the engines, and the best crew in the sport, I’m really a lucky girl and I know it.”
Enders best pass was a 6.930-second blast at 198.85 mph, which she recorded in the event’s second qualifying session Saturday afternoon. She had run a 6.944 at 198.17 mph in Friday’s lone time trial, and she finished with a 6.979 at 198.82 mph Saturday evening. Friday’s qualifying was shortened to one round due to on-and-off rain showers.
“We would have loved to get all four rounds, especially here in Denver where it’s so hard to tune these things,” Enders said, referencing the altitude of the track. “Still, I’m definitely happy with what we’ve done here.
“That last qualifying session is totally on me as a driver. It’s so different up here on the mountain as far as everything is concerned, how the car feels, how it drives and when your shift points come, and I just made a rookie mistake that run and messed up in low gear. No biggie, we’ll put it behind us and get ready for eliminations.”
With 14 cars making qualifying passes, the usual 16-car ladder will be replaced by a modified 14-car grid, which awards a second-round bye to the winner of the No. 1 versus No. 14 pairing. That head-to-head battle features Enders’ husband Richie Stevens against top qualifier Drew Skillman.
“The 14-car ladder is definitely interesting,” Enders said. “Richie only races a few times a year so I’ll be pulling for him. We have (No. 13 qualifier) Alan Prusiensky (7.024 at 196.53 mph) in the first round so we’ll need to be ready. We’re hoping for a really long day tomorrow for this Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro.”
Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. The FOX Network will carry eliminations live from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)