Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock | Sonoma 2016

SONOMA, CA — With four race days left before the Countdown to the Championship begins, two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders knows time is short to be able to defend her 2015 title.

But Enders also knows she and the Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team are more than capable of making a late-season surge, perhaps beginning with the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

“Tomorrow is a very important race day for us as we only have four Sundays left to get this car in the Countdown,” Enders said. “We know that it’s kinda hovering over our head, but at the same time we have made up ground for sure and we will continue to work on this thing.”

Enders is 11th in the Pro Stock points standings, one spot out of the top 10 who are locked in for the Countdown, the championship-determining segment of the season. She’s also less than a round out of 10th place, meaning one or two rounds of racing could determine who races for the championship and who doesn’t.

Enders qualified No. 10 here with a top pass of 6.612 seconds at 209.26 mph. She’ll start Sunday’s eliminations against Elite teammate Vincent Nobile, who qualified No. 7 with a run of 6.592 seconds at 210.64 mph. Nobile has beaten Enders in the first round twice in the last four races, a trend she hopes to end Sunday.

“I think he’s loaded me up plenty of times this year, so I’m hoping it’s our turn tomorrow,” Enders said. “Either way, we have an Elite Motorsports, Elite Performance car heading to the second round. We will just put our heads down and go to work and see what the outcome is tomorrow.”

Enders qualified No. 2 in Denver last weekend, an example of how her Elite team has made progress. She started quickly here, though that momentum has been difficult to maintain.

“After we made the first run here on Friday, we still felt we were significantly headed in the right direction,” Enders said. “We posted a 6.62 on the scoreboard, but we could have very well run a .59 for sure. So that tells us that what we had found for Denver certainly translates here.

“Since that first run, it’s gone downhill, but you know that’s where my awesome guys come into play, and we dig deep and we keep working on it. At this point it would be so easy to throw in the towel, but that’s not what we’re made of. We’ve got a bunch of people over here helping us get this Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart headed in the right direction.”

Pro Stock eliminations start around noon, Sunday. FOX will carry the action live from 1 to 4 p.m. PT, Sunday.