ST. LOUIS (Sept. 27) — Erica Enders-Stevens capped off a dominant performance in qualifying with the No. 1 spot for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Enders-Stevens was quickest in all four qualifying sessions, including her 6.511-second pass at 213.03 mph in Q4 that earned her a fourth No. 1 this season and 10th in her career.
“We were trying to be consistent and have a nice race-day setup for tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said of her pole-winning pass. “The air was similar to qualifying pass No. 3 and pretty similar to yesterday’s as well, so it was conducive for us to go. We talked about it before, for us to go a high .50, low .51, and we were able to accomplish just that.
“I’m really proud of my team. They’ve given me a consistent race car and a fast one at that. I’m excited about tomorrow.”
Sweeping the top spot in each of the four sessions also earned Enders-Stevens 12 qualifying bonus points and unofficially moved her to third in the Pro Stock standings, 47 markers out of the lead.
“We’ve had four really nice runs that we’re proud of,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are definitely ways to nitpick it and improve but Q4 was a good run. I knew when I let the clutch out on that last run.”
Enders-Stevens faces No. 16 qualifier Larry Morgan in the first round Sunday after Morgan made a best pass of 6.612 seconds at 209.95 mph. She’s gunning for her third consecutive victory in St. Louis.
Gateway could be a pivotal race in the Countdown to the Championship, as eight of the Countdown drivers are in the top half of the field. Plus, Gateway marks the halfway point of the six-race playoffs.
“We’ve got a stout group of players out there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us. Our side of the ladder is packed with all three of the Gray (Motorsports) cars, and two of them are in front of us in the points standings.
“We get a shot to control our own destiny tomorrow. We’re going to focus one round at a time. I know I keep saying that, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.
“I’m excited and obviously a positive attitude has a lot to do with it. We’re going to go into tomorrow swinging for it. At this point, we look at it as it’s ours to lose. We’ve just got to do our jobs.”