SONOMA, CA — The first two days of the 30th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals have been a bit of a struggle for two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, but that hasn’t dampened the spirits of the always popular pro from Houston.
“We definitely have an issue that we are working to fix,” Enders said after qualifying a season-low 15th on the grid with a 6.949 at 211.89 mph. “Everybody is doing all they can to figure out what the Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro wants and, so far, it’s just not translating to the scoreboard.
“The good news is that tomorrow is a new day and we will take what we have learned and try to move forward. I wouldn’t want anyone else behind me except for this Elite Motorsports crew. We go through the ups and downs of this journey together and we’ll get this fixed and move forward.”
The way Enders sees things at this point is that you must be prepared to beat everyone in the field if you hope to reign victorious on race day. She knows that anyone capable of qualifying for an NHRA national event is also capable of winning the race, so she’ll focus on what’s ahead, rather than what’s already transpired.
“We aren’t two-time world champs for nothing,” Enders said. “Struggling at times is all part of the journey. We learn as we go and we keep working at it. The incredible thing about my crew is they never make the same mistake. Once we figure out something that isn’t working, it’s over and we never go back to that spot again. There is a method to the madness.”
To run the table tomorrow, Enders will first have to take care of Round 1 opponent Bo Butner, who qualified second with a 6.546 at 211.63 mph. The two drivers have gotten very familiar this year, racing five times in total. Butner is an impressive 4-1 against his good friend Enders.
“I hope to surprise him and get one back,” Enders said. “They’ve had a great year, winning three times already, so it’s obviously a tough draw for us in Round 1 but when you qualify 15th, what do you expect?
“We are all very frustrated. It’s an unfortunate situation but at the end of the day we get to do what we love with the people that we love so we are still winning. We’ll be here all night because we’ve definitely gotta get this car fixed. I have complete faith in this team.”
Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry live eliminations from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)