Erica Enders is ready to get back to racing and the reigning Pro Stock world champion now has a date for when that will happen in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
NHRA released a revamped schedule for the rest of the 2020 season after the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic put racing on pause. Racing is scheduled to resume June 5-7 with the Gatornationals, with Pro Stock slated to race 14 more times in 2020. With two races completed, that will give the class 16 events this year – two less than the scheduled amount – amounting to the most ideal scenario considering racing will be on hold for more than three months should NHRA resume its season in June.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to race by June and it was definitely neat to see what they did with the schedule,” Enders said. “Obviously it’s not as soon as we’re all hopeful of, but I’m glad we’re able to pick up in Gainesville and I’m super glad we’re not going to miss my hometown race (in Houston). We’ll come back swinging trying to fit those races in. It’s going to be fun and people will definitely be excited.”
That will certainly be the case for Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates. Before racing went on hold, Enders won the most recent race in Phoenix and is the current points leader. That’s important, too, as the Countdown to the Championship won’t take place in 2020, meaning the championship will be determined by a traditional points race.
“It will definitely be an interesting season,” Enders said. “You need to try to have a dominant season to win a championship in this format, and we’ll see if we can withstand all the competition. We’ll really need to have our ducks in a row.”
Additional changes include the introduction of a two-day race weekend due to the compressed schedule. That will happen at three of the first four races, as NHRA will resume racing with four straight weekends of competition.
The good news for Enders is that second week back will be the SpringNationals at the three-time world champion’s hometown track in Houston. It’s one race that got postponed during the pandemic and Enders figured wouldn’t be made up. But Houston fans will see Pro Stock racing for the first time since 2018, as the new class schedule last year didn’t include an appearance at the facility.
“We all thought Houston was one that was going to get pulled, so I was glad we still get to go there, especially since we didn’t race Pro Stock there last year,” Enders said. “I love racing there and it’s going to be exciting.”
Enders also talked glowingly of her partners at Melling Performance. While businesses across the world have suffered during these uncertain economic times, Enders praised her relationship with Melling.
“We’ve had a great line of communication with our partners, especially Melling,” Enders said. “They have reassured us that everything is good and we’re very lucky to have Mark Melling and his family on board through all this craziness.”
Racing is still more than two months away, but the schedule announcement did give Enders and her team a tinge of excitement. With a fantastic finish last year to secure her third world championship and the strong start to 2020, Enders can’t wait to get behind the wheel, and is confident her team will be ready when racing resumes.
“All of us here at the shop are ready to get back on the road,” said Enders, a 26-time race winner. “The excitement leading up to it will be awesome, and our sport is something so many people love and cherish. We’re just trying to keep all the balls bouncing with the race program and we’ve used this time to catch up on everything. We’re using this time to work.”
Revised 2020 NHRA Schedule
June 5-7 – Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals PSC/PSM – Gainesville, Fla.
June 12-14 – *Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals PSC/PSM – Houston
June 19-21 – *NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals PSC/PSM – Bristol, Tenn.
June 26-28 – *Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals PSC/PSM – Norwalk, Ohio
July 24-26 – NHRA Sonoma Nationals PSC/PSM – Sonoma, Calif.
July 31-Aug. 2 – *NHRA Northwest Nationals PSC/PSM – Seattle
Aug. 21-23 – *Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals PSC – Topeka, Kan.
Sept. 3-7 – NHRA U.S. Nationals PSC/PSM – Indianapolis
Sept. 11-13 – *Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals PSC/PSM – Reading, Pa.
Sept. 18-20 – NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals PSC/PSM – Charlotte
Sept. 25-27 – Make Up Date If Needed – Gainesville, Fla.
Oct. 2-4 – AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals PSC/PSM – St. Louis
Oct. 9-11 – Make Up Date If Needed – Houston
Oct. 15-18 – AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals PSC/PSM – Dallas
Oct. 29-Nov. 1 – Dodge NHRA Nationals PSC/PSM – Las Vegas
Nov. 12-15 – Auto Club NHRA Finals PSC/PSM – Pomona, Calif.
*Mello Yello Drag Racing Series on Saturday and Sunday only