POMONA, CA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens will begin to defend her 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock world championship this weekend at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
But not much has changed in Enders-Stevens’ mind as she and her team prepare for the Winternationals.
“I guess it really hasn’t completely sunk in because some days it’ll just cross my mind and I can’t believe it,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s pretty cool. The off-season is busy as always, no different than any other. We’re hard at work trying to find money and horsepower.”
Though she hasn’t raced since her triumphant victory in the final round of the final race of 2014, Enders-Stevens remains as focused as ever at the task at hand: Doing her job, one round at a time.
“I haven’t gotten unfocused,” Enders-Stevens said. “What we accomplished last year doesn’t change anything ever. It’s a great accomplishment and really cool, but you can go from hero to zero really quick, week in and week out. I learned that a long time ago. We’ve got our work cut out for us, and we’re going to swing for the fences just like we did last year.”
Enders-Stevens, 31, won her first world championship with a stellar season that included six victories, six No. 1 qualifiers, and national elapsed-time and speed records.
But the championship was in doubt until the final round in Pomona, where Enders-Stevens won the race and the title when Jason Line red-lit.
Now, she returns to the site of her championship brandishing the No. 1 on the side of her Chevrolet Camaro.
“We’re the defending world champions, and it’s a pretty awesome place to be,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been in this situation before, and we’re really excited and honored to carry the No. 1 this year. It’ll be a memorable year, and we’re going to go to Pomona and give it our all and hopefully carry the No. 1 into 2016 also. That’s everyone’s goal.
“We know the target is on our back, for sure, but to be honest it’s been on our back. I don’t know if anything has changed. Last year, we had a very dominant car, and when some people would race us, they’d swing for the fences both performance-wise and from the driver’s seat.
“I don’t think anything will change from our angle,” Enders-Stevens added. “We’re going to stay focused on racing our car and our lane.”
Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.