POMONA, CA. (Feb. 7) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens is starting the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season the same way she ended 2014: On top.
Enders-Stevens claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the same track where she claimed the Pro Stock championship last November.
“Pomona obviously holds a lot of great memories,” Enders-Stevens said. “I can’t believe we’re back here already, but it’s great to be back and be fast.”
Enders-Stevens grabbed her 13th career No. 1 qualifier with a pass of 6.516 seconds at 213.10 mph. After failing to make a full pass in either of Friday’s two qualifying sessions, she and her team stepped up in Q3.
“That’s a little nerve-wracking if you drive a Pro Stock car,” Enders-Stevens said. “You’re uncertain of track conditions, so you have to be a little conservative to make sure you get down. But my guys stepped up, as they always do, and we made a great run.”
The rest of the Pro Stock class took their best shots but were unable to get around Enders-Stevens’ No. 1 Chevrolet. When rain washed out the final session, she locked up the top spot.
“We were able to stay No. 1,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s all that matters for my Elite Motorsports team. I wish we would have gotten that last run because we wanted to try some things, but tomorrow should be a good day.”
Enders-Stevens and her team struggled to adapt to two rules changes for 2015, as NHRA mandated a new tire and new fuel, but crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones hit on a good combination during testing earlier this week.
“It was very interesting but we figured it out,” Enders-Stevens said. “We made two full hits in Phoenix, and then we were able to come here. Going into Sunday with only one run under your belt isn’t ideal, but I know if anybody can do it, we can. I’ve got the best guys in the world, and I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings.”
Enders-Stevens begins her defense of the 2014 championship against No. 16 qualifier Matt Hartford, who qualified with a pass of 6.611 seconds at 208.59 mph.
Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday.