READING, Pa. (Sept. 24) — The second race of this year’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs ended up just like the first one for two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders with the most decorated female in class history going one-up, one-down in eliminations at the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.
Starting race day as the No.9 qualifier, Enders scored a mild upset against eighth ranked driver Chris McGaha by way of a holeshot, meaning her superior reaction time from behind the wheel negated McGaha’s quicker run. She once again left ahead of opponent in the quarterfinals but didn’t quite have enough oomph to stay ahead all the way through the finish line.
“There’s definitely some good news coming out of the day,” Enders said. “After not going down the track during either run yesterday, we made two respectable passes today, runs that can absolutely be worked on and made better, so we have a hotrod capable of winning rounds.
“We made more than a few steps in the right direction here so we will take what we learned and try to get better for the next weekend’s race in St. Louis. Gateway International Raceway is a track where we’ve had a lot of luck and success in the past so it’s a place we enjoy visiting.”
In today’s eliminations, Enders left a massive .041 seconds ahead of McGaha in the opening session to win easily, crossing with a 6.657 at 208.36 mph in front of McGaha’s quicker but losing 6.640 at 207.78 mph.
Her starting line advantage wasn’t quite as pronounced in her quarterfinal race against good friend Bo Butner, but she still left with .018 seconds in her pocket. The chase was on from there and it took Butner the majority of the quarter-mile to track down and pass Enders. He eventually won with a 6.635 at 208.20 mph to her 6.667 at 207.69 mph.
“Unfortunately, all I needed was a .028 light to put Bo on his trailer but I only had a .044,” she said. “I couldn’t tell you the last time I was later than a .028 during eliminations so personally it’s a bit frustrating but I’ve been very consistent on the tree overall and it was worth a round win today.
“I’ll go to work on getting even better behind the wheel and I know the guys will have this car ready by Friday. We are down to four races in the Countdown and today would have been a great time to make up some ground but it wasn’t the way the good Lord had it planned so we will continue to work. We will hold our heads high and go to St. Louis with designs on winning the race.”
The NHRA tour quickly heads to Gateway International Raceway for next weekend’s sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, the third of six races in this year’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs.