Coming off a thrilling victory at the U.S. Nationals, where Erica Enders jumped back into the Pro Stock points lead and received a special congratulatory text from President Donald Trump, the reigning world champion will look to grab another significant achievement this weekend — her first NHRA Gatornationals victory.
The historic Gainesville Raceway is one of the few places where Enders has never won, but she heads to the Gatornationals – taking place in September for the first time in NHRA history after being postponed six months to due to the COVID-19 pandemic — with plenty of momentum in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
The three-time world champ won the most recent race in Indy, putting her in prime position to try and claim a fourth title and her first Pro Stock victory in Gainesville.
“I’m really excited to head back to Gainesville,” said Enders, a 27-time event winner in Pro Stock. “The Gators are one of my favorite events. We’ve never won there in my 16-year Pro Stock career, but we have been the runner-up three times. I’m looking forward to sealing the deal this year and hopefully extending our points lead in what could be our fourth title. This five-race stretch is crucial and we are ready for the challenge.”
This weekend’s stop in Gainesville kicks off a rigorous stretch to finish off an unprecedented 2020 NHRA season. Racing was put on hold during the traditional Gainesville race weekend in March due to the public health crisis and didn’t resume for five months. The Pro Stock class raced three times in Indy, which means this weekend is the first race away from Lucas Oil Raceway since Phoenix in February, a race that Enders also won.
Gainesville is the first of five races in a six-week stretch to finish off what will be a unique 10-race Pro Stock season as well. Enders and her talented Elite Motorsports team, led by crew chiefs Rick Jones and Mark Ingersoll, are ready for the challenge, knowing full well the championship race could come down to the final pass of the season in Las Vegas.
Her lead is just seven points over teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. and 11 better than Jason Line, meaning Enders may have to stay red-hot to claim another title.
“It’s going to be a much different way to finish the year. It’s just going to be cut throat the rest of the way, and we’re going to have to do our best to execute on Sunday,” Enders said. “It’s going to be a tall order, but we’re excited and we’re all glad to be racing. With five events left, every single round is going to count, but my money’s always on us.”
The U.S. Nationals weekend was a huge confidence boost for Enders, as the car was consistent and fast, and she was outstanding on the starting line when it counted. Together, it’s a combination that is hard to stop.
“We tested in Tulsa before (the U.S. Nationals) and I felt like when we left we had our confidence back,” Enders said. “We regained our confidence in ourselves and our equipment. It was exactly the medicine we needed and I’m thankful to have this group. We’re looking forward to going to Gainesville and I’m excited about what we can do.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 11:45 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 5 p.m. on Saturday and live eliminations beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday on FS1.