ST. LOUIS (Sept. 26) — The love affair with Gateway Motorsports Park continued Friday for Pro Stock racer Erica Enders-Stevens.
The Elite Motorsports driver, who is gunning for her third consecutive Pro Stock victory at Gateway, earned the provisional No. 1 qualifier for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals with a blistering pass of 6.513 seconds at 212.90 mph.
“I love St. Louis; I have since I was a little girl,” Enders-Stevens said. “Coming here and racing in the Sportsman ranks, we had a couple of semifinal finishes in Super Comp and Super Gas. That’s pretty neat when you have a 100-count field.
“I’ve just always liked coming here, and when they brought the races back here in 2012, we were able to win then and in 2013 as well. We’re hoping for a three-peat this year.
“I’m not really sure what it is but there are just some tracks that are really good to certain drivers. I’m glad that this is one of them and I’m certainly glad that it’s in the Countdown at the moment. Day by day, we’ll see how it goes.”
Enders-Stevens’ top pass came in the first qualifying session, and she was hoping for an even quicker run in Q2.
“After that first session we were pleased with the numbers we saw up on the board,” Enders-Stevens said. “That was pretty evident when the No. 2 qualifier was a solid three-hundredths behind us. I’m really proud of my team. We went out there and made some changes for (Q2) and obviously missed it a little bit but should have, could have, would have.
“There was definitely a high .49, low .50 in the car, so we’ll go back and assess and see what happens tomorrow. I’m excited though.”
Two more qualifying sessions are on the schedule for Saturday, when Enders-Stevens could earn her fourth No. 1 of 2014 and 10th of her career.
But perhaps more important is the opportunity to add more qualifying bonus points. Enders-Stevens was quickest in the second session (6.413 seconds at 212.26 mph), earning six bonus points total on Friday.
Enders-Stevens came to Gateway fourth in the points standings after two of the six Countdown to the Championship races, trailing leader Jason Line by 59 points.
“(Qualifying points) are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “I know I said it before but these baby points are going to be like thousandths of a second in Pro Stock racing out there on Sunday. Every little point matters, especially coming into this race. We’re only nine points behind third, 16 behind second, and three rounds behind first, so they all add up.
“We’re just going to take it one round at a time, one run at a time, day by day and do the best job that we can do.”