Erica Enders made history Sunday at the Dodge NHRA Finals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, clinching her fourth NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series championship, surpassing greats like Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey and entering a legendary category all her own.
Enders later added the cherry on top, defeating a red-lighting Kyle Koretsky in the final round to earn her fourth victory of the season and 29th of her career.
“What an unbelievable day,” said Enders, who earned her seventh victory in Las Vegas. “This place has been so good to me, but I couldn’t do it without my team. We persevered and dug deep, and we found a way to make it happen. I am a lucky girl to live the life I do.”
Enders sealed the championship in rather anti-climactic fashion, as her two nearest challengers, Jason Line and teammate Jeg Coughlin, Jr., bowed out in the opening round. With that, Enders won back-to-back championships for the second time in her career, doing so in 2014 and 2015, and again in 2019 and 2020. Her four victories in a shortened 10-race season led all others in the Pro Stock category.
“I speak so highly of these guys, I mean it from the bottom of my heart,” Enders said. “With (crew chiefs) Rick Jones, Mark Ingersoll, Rickie Jones, (team owner) Richard Freeman has organized the most perfect group of people. I’ve also got to give a big, deep thank you to Mark Melling and his family for sticking with us and stepping up to the plate when this year has been the most challenging year we’ve ever seen.
Enders’ run began with a victory at Phoenix back in February; she won the prestigious U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis following five months of downtime due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and added a victory at St. Louis down the stretch before her triumph in Las Vegas. She didn’t suffer a first-round loss all season and put together a 25-6 round record in eliminations.
“It’s no secret that I’ve struggled this year, the last couple of years honestly,” Enders said. “It’s been an uphill battle. But all of these guys on this team, they give their lives to this. I could not be more proud. I’m so blessed and happy right now. I’ve never been in a situation like that where I’ve depended on other people to handle it for us. I love this life I get to live.”