With a pair of strong qualifying runs last Saturday, Erica Enders felt confident she had a car capable of winning in Sonoma. While that didn’t happen, that belief has continued to the final race of the NHRA Western Swing.
The two-time Pro Stock world champion will head to Seattle for this weekend’s NHRA Northwest Nationals eager to pick up her first victory of the 2019 season. After what she saw in Sonoma, she’s hopeful she can end the Western Swing on a positive note in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
“My car was consistent and it was consistently fast (in Sonoma),” Enders said. “We were low (E.T.) in the third qualifying session and the third-quickest in the fourth session. That gives you some confidence and I was driving well. We totally could have won that race. But the good news is we have a good, fast and consistent car. I feel good with the handle we have on it, and it definitely gives us some confidence heading to Seattle. We’ll be ready.”
Enders fell in the second round at Sonoma, but she knows it remains a very thin line between that and a trip to the winner’s circle.
Should she find the winner’s circle in Seattle, where Enders won in 2012, the 23-time event winner would have a great opportunity to jump up in the points standings at an important time.
Enders is currently eighth, but is just over two rounds out of fourth in the tightly-compacted class. All it takes is one big weekend to make a considerable jump in the class, and Enders knows her team is more than capable of doing that.
“It was cool to see (Elite Motorsports teammate) Alex (Laughlin) go to the final round last week, but I’m ready for it to be the red car’s turn,” Enders said. “We’re trying to get things to swing in our direction, and this team is ready to get to work in Seattle.”
Enders made history with her 2012 win at Pacific Raceways. She shared the winner’s circle with Funny Car winner Courtney Force, as it marked the first time in NHRA history that two females claimed Wally trophies at the same event.
It’s a memory that brings a smile to Enders’ face, also giving her immediate confidence and good vibes pulling into the facility. But Enders is also well aware of the challenges the track poses.
“We’ve had fun here and that puts a little pep in your step,” Enders said. “That can definitely have a positive effect. But it can be a tricky track, too. If it get hot here, it can get pretty tricky, but I’m confident in my crew chiefs and my team.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:00 and 6:15 p.m. PT on Friday and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday at 1:45 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday.
There will be live qualifying coverage on FS1 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday with additional live qualifying on FS1 at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday. FS1 will televise more qualifying at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, with three hours of live finals coverage shifting to FOX at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.