READING, PA – As the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ Countdown to the Championship playoffs continue with this weekend’s 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders has her sights set on gaining traction in championship points by taking her bright red Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to another winner’s circle.
Enders, a feisty 33-year-old Houston native, goes into the second round of the Countdown to the Championship sixth in points. Even though she and her Richard Freeman-owned team have been challenged recently with a change in rear tire specs, Enders remains highly confident in her group’s ability to contend for a third title and add to her glowing legacy as the most-acclaimed female driver in the history of the factory hot rod class.
“I’ve done well at Maple Grove, but I’ve never won there so that’s something I would like to knock off of my to-do list,” Enders said. “I’m glad we’re heading back East because that’s big Pro Stock country. The fans absolutely love this class and that’s something that will be refreshing to see after the tumultuous year this class has had. I’m also looking forward to a little break in the weather. It’s been a little hot this summer.”
Although the forecast looks iffy, Reading usually gives racers a break from the heat of summer as fall begins in eastern Pennsylvania. Maple Grove Raceway takes advantage of its locale and cooler temps to give competitors and fans some of the quickest and fastest racing on the planet with record-setting performances the norm at the charming facility. For Enders, it also provides her an opportunity to relish in some family time.
“I’m looking forward to the weekend,” Enders said. “My sister and brother-in-law live 15 minutes from the racetrack and there’s a lot of family and friends up there so we will take all four of these team cars, along with Larry Morgan, our newest engine leasing customer, and see what we can do. We’ll have five of us up there battling it out. I’m very optimistic and looking forward to racing at Maple Grove.”
Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates Jeg Coughlin Jr., Vincent Nobile, and Alex Laughlin as well as the rest of the Pro Stock class have dealt with many changes this year, including a switch to a new spec rear tire. Enders is hoping Reading will help her and her team get a better grip on the change.
“The new tire has been a challenge for us to get a hold of and we are just going to continue to fine tune on our 60-foot times,” Enders said. “That’s where we have struggled. If we can make up the .02 (seconds) and .03 we lack down low, it will translate to .04 or .05 at the top end.
“Horsepower is not a problem in our Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro, it’s just managing the horsepower with the new tire. We will just keep chipping away at it.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:45 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 2:30-3:30 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 2-5 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)