CHARLOTTE – KLR Group driver Erica Enders is hoping for a long, heavy workday in the elimination rounds of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway.
She’d love to have a exhausting day that includes four rounds of racing, which would put her in the final round for the fourth consecutive race and make for a solid start to the Countdown to the Championship.
“We just need to have a long day tomorrow,” said Enders, fourth in the points standings as the Countdown starts this weekend. “This is the first race, and it’s very important to get off on the right foot.”
Enders qualified No. 6 Saturday, posting a top lap of 6.566 seconds at 210.77 mph. That ended her streak of two consecutive No. 1 qualifiers, but the numbers are a tad misleading, Enders said.
“Had we made a good run, we’d be right at the top of the page,” Enders said. “I’m really not concerned with how the other guys are doing. It is a little deceiving to go from the one position to the sixth position, but all in all, you’ve just got to get in the show. You can win from anywhere.”
Enders starts her day against six-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson, who qualified No. 11 with a lap of 6.598 seconds at 209.82 mph.
“Dave (Connolly) proved last week you can win from any qualifying position, and I’ve been there, too,” Enders said of her crew chief, who won the U.S. Nationals after qualifying No. 15. “We definitely didn’t show our hand in qualifying. We did not make one good run. That’s encouraging going in to tomorrow. The paper doesn’t always tell the tale.”
But the numbers do tell of Enders’ recent success. She’s won three of the last seven Pro Stock races and raced to the final round in the last three. Plus, she’s qualified No. 1 twice and has qualified in the top of the field for eight consecutive races – including track records at Sonoma and Brainerd.
“I think we’ll be fine,” Enders said. “We tested here last week and tried to get our setup right, but when you add the mix of the fuel cars and the hotter weather, the track can get tricky.”