DENVER, CO — Two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders kept her hot streak alive with a strong semifinal finish at this weekend’s 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at beautiful Bandimere Speedway.
Enders now has one victory, one runner-up result and two semifinal finishes since the first week of June, a steady streak of performances that has her climbing up the championship points rankings.
“We’re pleased with the weekend, for sure,” Enders said. “You always set out to win the race and after qualifying No. 2 on the ladder, we had high hopes of bringing home the Wally (trophy) today. You know in this sport there’s only one happy camper at the end of the race but we’re optimistic about the way we’re running lately and we’re anxious to get to California next weekend and do it all over again.”
The day started with a first-round dismissal of Alan Prusiensky, with Enders powering her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.983 at 198.06 mph over Prusiensky’s 7.041 at 195.68 mph.
Rival Chris McGaha was next and he gave up the win at the starting line with a -.002 second red-light start. It was a fortuitous moment for Enders as McGaha had a better elapsed time, running a 6.969 at 197.05 mph to Enders’ slower but winning 6.978 at 198.29 mph.
“The first two rounds all three of our team cars were struggling at the hit,” Enders said. “Jeg (Coughlin) shook in Round 1 and had to give up his run. Vincent (Nobile) had two really good passes but his crew chief Lump (Brian Self) told us they were right on the edge. And my runs all were touchy. It’s part of racing up here.”
Looking to make a statement, Enders wanted a quick start against semifinal opponent Bo Butner, but her anxiousness ultimately cost her the race as she fouled at the start by -.007 seconds. It may not have mattered anyway as she soon chattered the tires and was forced to shut off and drift to the finish. Butner won with a 6.948 at 198.47 mph.
“When I put the car on the chip it was pulling me forward,” Enders said. “I still didn’t expect to red light but it happens. As a driver, you never want to red light but I’m not going to beat myself up over this one. There were other factors involved.
“Bottom line, the Melling Performance/Elite Chevy is running great and we’re going to keep our chins up and move on to the second race of the Western Swing in Sonoma. I’m going straight there to visit with some sponsor friends and maybe tour a winery or two. We should be rested and ready for Friday.”
The NHRA tour quickly moves to California’s wine country for next weekend’s 30th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway.