TOPEKA, KS — In 2006, Erica Enders earned her first No. 1 qualifier at Heartland Park Topeka to become the first woman to win a Pro Stock pole. Nine years later, Enders went to the top of the chart in Topeka again, earning the No. 1 qualifier at the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Saturday.
“It’s pretty cool,” Enders said. “I thought about that coming in here on Thursday, so it definitely was a fun memory here, becoming the first female No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock. We’ve gone on to do some really great things (with Elite Motorsports).”
Enders won the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship with Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports team and has 14 career victories and 15 career poles.
At Heartland Park, Enders led all three qualifying sessions — the fourth was rained out — with her top pass of 6.150 seconds at 211.43 mph earning her the No. 1 spot. She earned nine bonus points by being the quickest in each qualifying session.
“I’m always confident in my guys,” Enders said. “They give me a very consistent race car, and that makes my job a little easier, to where I just focus on driving and not wonder what the car is going to do — if we’re going to blow the tires off, if it’s going to hook right or left. Being low for every session is pretty exciting. We were able to do that some last year and accumulate those three bonus points per round that you’re low.
“Coming to the final race of last year, every point mattered, so we’ll take ’em when we can get ’em.”
Perhaps the only reason she didn’t earn 12 bonus points was because the final qualifying session was canceled because of rain.
“I would’ve liked it,” Enders said. “I’ll drive any chance I get, but it was a good call with the rain coming in. But I would’ve loved to have gone out there and given it another shot to see if we could be low one more time. I think we’ve got a good handle on the car and hopefully a good race-day setup for tomorrow.”
Enders begins her chase for the Kansas Nationals victory against No. 16 qualifier Mark Hogan.
“We’ve had an awesome weekend,” Enders said. “It’s a brand-new race car and our second race in a row with it. We’re just trying to get a handle on it, and my guys have done a great job.”