GAINESVILLE, FL — Two and a half races into her newest era of racing, back-to-back and reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders is pleased with the progress of her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart. Through four rounds of qualifying at the 47th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Enders qualified 10th with a steady pass of 6.636 seconds at 208.33 mph.
“It’s no secret that we’ve struggled a bit the first two races with an extremely new program, but it’s just a matter of having more time to make more runs with this Dodge Dart and the Hemi powerplant,” Enders said. “We’re going to get better every race; I believe that wholeheartedly. My guys are so smart. They want it more than anything. We just have to be patient.
“Our test in Tulsa (Okla.) this week was certainly encouraging. We’ve improved so much since we got our first motor in February, for sure. Knowing what we found in Tulsa and applying it here to all four of the cars on this team was our first goal and we all came out okay. I think our four cars ended up fifth, sixth, ninth, and 10th, so that’s pretty good.”
Enders’ 6.636 pits her against good friend Allen Johnson when elimination action begins at noon ET on Sunday. Johnson’s best pass was a seventh-place 6.628 at 207.91 mph.
“I don’t think that where we qualified is indicative of what happened on the track because on our run of record I had something go wrong and it certainly cost us a few hundredths of a second,” Enders said. “We could have at least run a 6.62, so that’s extremely encouraging.
“We certainly weren’t looking for a bottom-half qualifying effort, but we will get our act together before tomorrow, and Jeg (Coughlin Jr., teammate) has proved over and over that you can win from any position on the qualifying sheet, so we’ll treat tomorrow like a brand-new day. I feel really confident.
“We’ve all got a little extra pep in our step after today. I know things are for sure headed in the right direction.”
Race day eliminations will air live from 1 to 4 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX Sports 1.