Erica Enders has been to the top of NHRA’s Pro Stock Mello Yello Series mountain, winning back-to-back world championships in 2014-15.
Now, Enders is on the cusp of winning her third world title after her memorable performance at the NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday.
Enders left Vegas atop the points standings – 92 in front of her Elite Motorsports teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. with one race remaining – the Auto Club Finals in Pomona, Calif. (Nov. 14-17). Enders came to Vegas with a 28-point lead in the standings.
“I don’t think complacency is a word in our vocabulary,” Enders said. “We are going to go out to Pomona to win the race. We’re not going to visit. We are not going to just put 60 points on the board because it is 30 points a round out there. Anything can happen and when it is your day it is your day and when it is your year it is your year. I’m happy with where we are at, but we are going to dig deep and try harder. I’m going to try my best to put it in the winner’s circle and I know my guys will as well.”
Enders piloted her Melling Performance-sponsored machine to beat Coughlin Jr. in the finals at The Strip. She clocked a 6.617-second elapsed time at 208.04 mph in her Chevy Camaro to edge Coughlin’s 6.620-second lap at 201.70 mph in his Camaro.
“Jeg is a legend for a reason, winner of all sorts of classes in the sport and in my opinion the best driver I have ever seen,” Enders said. “I’m humbled to be his teammate and lucky to drive along side of him. For an all-Elite final, we were able to put the icing on the cake to put the Melling Performance car in the winner’s circle.”
Enders win was historic as it was the 150th NHRA national event by a female driver. Moments later, Brittany Force made it 151 with her win over Steve Torrence in the Top Fuel finals.
“Race day was fun, and race day was really challenging,” said Enders, who drives for Richard Freeman. “My guys just keep on giving me a good race car. We weren’t the fastest one on the property (Sunday), but we certainly were able to get it done. I struggled a little bit mentally, but my dad, my sister and of course my guys stood behind me and pulled me through. It was a whole lot of positive vibes and prayers going up to the good Lord.”
Enders win also was the 200th by a Camaro in Pro Stock in the NHRA ranks.
“We are all about milestones (Sunday),” Enders said. “I forgot about the 150th until Amanda (Busick) gave us the trophy down there and that was pretty exciting. We barely missed the 100th when Courtney (Force) got it. We were able to get the 150th and I was able to share it with Brittany Force in the winner’s circle. I’m just really proud to be apart of the group of such strong, smart, talented females out there. We are showing them how it is done, (Sunday) anyway.”
In Pomona, the points-and-a-half system will be in play. There is a maximum of 191 points available for competitors in Pomona. Qualifying runs are 15 points, with a maximum of 26 points in qualifying and 30 points are up for grabs each round.
The unofficial Pro Stock standings have Enders leading, followed by Coughlin, Bo Butner (113 points back), Jason Line (116 back), Matt Hartford (118 back), Greg Anderson (157 back) and Deric Kramer (158 back).
“I tell you what, this is the highest of high and lowest of lows and the most nerve-wracking circumstances I have ever been in my life. I don’t know if I want to throw up or jump up and down.”
This is Enders’ 25th career national event win and fifth win at The Strip in Vegas. This is Enders’ second win of the season, with the other coming in St. Louis Sept. 29.
“It was a great day,” Enders said. “I love The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It has been really good to me and I hope it keeps on coming. This win was huge for us. We knew coming in here that we wanted to gather up all the bonus points we possibly could. Unfortunately, we had some things go wrong and we had the car shut off the second run of qualifying and the third run we were first out and that’s a little detrimental to our health in Pro Stock. We were kind of behind the 8-ball a little bit coming into race day, but we were able to rise to the occasion. To be a part of the female group out here, it is just a stellar bunch of women, it is an honor.”
We go up there every single run and give it everything we have. My guys do the best they can, and I do the best I can, and it turned out great (Sunday).”