Texas has already been good to Erica Enders this month. Now, the defending Pro Stock world champ hopes that continues and it leads to a magical weekend at her home track.
Enders won the delayed NHRA Midwest Nationals in Dallas a week ago and left Texas Motorplex with the points lead. She’ll have a chance to inch closer to a fourth world title at Houston Raceway Park for this weekend’s NHRA race, which also happens to be the penultimate race on the 2020 schedule.
That presents a number of interesting scenarios for Enders, but more than anything, she wants to put on a winning performance in front of family and friends in her Mell-Gear Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
“Houston is the track where I first competed and from the very beginning, this track has had monumental memories for me,” Enders said. “All the steps I had to take to get to Pro Stock came at this track, so all those memories always come flooding back. It’s a place that has meant a lot to us, and I would really like to put an exclamation point on the weekend by winning and putting us in a good position going to Vegas.”
A second victory in three races would put Enders in total command heading to the final race of the season, which takes place next weekend in Las Vegas.
She also heads to Houston Raceway Park with plenty of momentum, winning five of a possible seven rounds at Texas Motorplex in Dallas. That including winning the St. Louis race, which put her back in the points lead over Jason Line. It currently stands as a 31-point advantage over Line and 93 points over teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Enders know she has work to do in order to keep the cushion before Vegas.
“We definitely felt confident leaving Dallas. We’ve got a good race car, I’m driving pretty well and we’re all looking forward to this weekend,” Enders said. “The track has been good to me in the past and it’s my home turf, so we’re excited to get things underway and see what happens.”
The annual stop in Houston usually comes in the spring — hence the NHRA SpringNationals name — but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the race to the fall. That presents an entirely different dynamic for Enders, who has 27 career victories, but she’s embracing the opportunity.
She has two career wins at Houston, and adding another at her home track with everything on the line would certainly make for a storybook moment.
That’s the end goal and a Sunday celebration with friends and family would be the perfect capper, but it will be a difficult and intense road to get there.
“There’s definitely a lot more on the line than when we race here in April,” Enders said. “It’s all business for us and we have to get down to things right away. We’re going to give it all we’ve got, try to go rounds and open up that gap a little bit. Our team has been in this position before, and we all know what’s at stake and what we have to accomplish. But when the pressure is on, we perform. We’re up for the challenge and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”
Pro Stock qualifying takes place at 12:45 and 3:45 p.m. CT on Saturday, and final eliminations are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sunday. Television coverage includes live action during eliminations beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).