CHICAGO — Pro Stock championship leader Erica Enders-Stevens will begin her quest for another Chicago triumph from the No. 2 qualifying position after posting a competitive 6.594-second quarter-mile pass at 209.65 mph in qualifying for the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals.
“This Elite Motorsports Camaro is running so strong this weekend, just like it has been all year, really,” Enders-Stevens said. “In four qualifying passes we went 6.59, 6.60, and 6.61 twice. That’s the kind of crazy fast speed and consistency that wins races.
“The guys have been sweating it out all weekend. I don’t think anyone expected this kind of heat in Chicago, but it’s definitely summertime now and they adjusted to it perfectly. I can’t tell you how much confidence it gives you as a driver to have a race car that you know is going down the track every run and can post super-quick times. Tomorrow can’t get here fast enough for me.”
As if her fast car isn’t enough, Enders-Stevens, who has held the No. 1 ranking for eight consecutive races, also can rely on the good vibrations of past successes at Route 66 Raceway to give her an additional lift in Sunday’s eliminations, which begin at noon. She won her first ever national event at this facility in 2012, becoming the first female winner in the factory hot rod category. She has since gone on to lock up every notable record for women in the class, including nine national event wins.
“What can I say? I love Chicago,” said Enders-Stevens, a three-time winner this year. “The fans have been so awesome because all of them make a point of sharing their memories of when we won here a couple of years ago, and it’s neat that everyone here takes a little piece of that with them. I’d love nothing more than to do it again and have another party in the Route 66 Raceway winner’s circle.”
As the No. 2 qualifier, Enders-Stevens will open sudden-death eliminations opposite Dave River, who qualified 15th with a 6.766 at 204.17 mph.
“You have to respect every racer because we all know that if you’re good enough to qualify, then you’re good enough to win, so we’ll be up for Mr. River and anyone else we might face off against,” Enders-Stevens said. “Right now, we have a comfortable lead in the points, and that’s all thanks to the hard work these guys have put in at the shop and here at the racetrack. We don’t want to let that slip away, so our focus will remain sharp.”