CHICAGO, IL — One of the most popular drivers in NHRA history, Erica Enders is used to “trending” on social media as she always seems to be at the forefront of fan’s online conversations. This weekend at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals, Enders is executing a different type of “trending,” this time involving her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
Since the start of qualifying, Enders has managed to improve in each of the four sessions, finally settling on a respectable 6.600-second quarter-mile pass at 210.50 mph that pegged her ninth on the elimination grid.
“Yeah, not too bad,” Enders said. “We’re certainly not exactly where we want to be because we’ll most likely be starting race day in the first pair out and we definitely won’t have lane choice, but I’ll still bet on my Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports guys every time.
“We definitely used all four qualifying runs as test sessions, really on all four of our team cars, so we’ve acquired a lot of data and gotten better every run even if it’s just by a little bit, so we are directionally correct at the moment and I hope that trend continues tomorrow.”
Enders “directionally correct” performance shows her starting the weekend with a 6.652 at 208.62 mph, improving to a 6.631 at 208.42 mph in Round 2, and then a 6.624 at 210.37 mph in Round 3 before posting her run of record in the final session.
“The way the car ran in the last round, it leads us to be optimistic about tomorrow,” Enders said. “I think we can make some pretty significant improvements and win some rounds. I’m ready. I’m hungry for another win.”
A victor earlier this season in Epping, N.H., Enders opens race day against part-time competitor Chris McGaha, who qualified eighth with a 6.596 at 209.98 mph. Enders and McGaha have not raced one another this season.
Joining her teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the grandstands between professional sessions, Enders spent her downtime Saturday taking in as much of the JEGS Allstars event as possible. The JEGS Allstars pits the best 80 Sportsman racers from the last 12 months against one another for individual and team titles.
“The racing was so intense,” Enders said. “Having come up through the Sportsman ranks and still racing the Lucas Oil series when I can, it’s just awesome to see how great those Allstars are out there. That’s such a huge honor for those racers and they certainly put on a show for the fans today.”
The first round of Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air live coverage from 3-6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.