Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens will skip the NHRA national events in Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle in order to better prepare for the rapidly-approaching Countdown to the Championship, Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman announced July 20, at Bandimere Speedway. Enders-Stevens has led the points since March, making her the most prolific points earner in the pro classes this season.
“This has been the game plan for us from the start,” Freeman said. “The fact we’ve had such a great year and Erica has been driving so well is bringing more attention to this move but we never intended to run the entire schedule. We don’t have a major sponsor, so there are no commitments to fulfill. The rest of our supporters are totally onboard.
“We’ve got some things we want to work on to prepare for the last few regular-season races and especially the Countdown. I really believe we’ll still be in the points lead, even skipping Sonoma and Seattle, or we’ll be close enough to get that No. 1 ranking back in the two races before the Countdown starts.”
Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock class with four victories this season, also winning the non-points K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas. She has collected at least one round-win at every race and has led the points standings after 10 of 14 races. Her 241-point lead at the start of this weekend’s race is the largest in any professional class.
The Houston native’s victory on July 6 in Norwalk, Ohio, was the 10th of her career, making her only the third female to post double-digit national event victories in NHRA history (along with three-time series champions Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney). She is far and away the most successful woman in Pro Stock class history with 10 career victories, eight No. 1 qualifiers, and 143 elimination round-wins. She is the only female to have won or been top qualifier in Pro Stock.
“We’ve got lots of goals left to accomplish, not the least of which is winning the Mello Yello Pro Stock championship,” Enders-Stevens said. “The guys will have this Camaro ready to win Brainerd and Indy and all six races in the Countdown. I don’t believe this will affect our plan of attack at all. It’s a team decision and obviously every decision Richard has made this year has worked out perfectly, so we’ll go home and prepare for Brainerd.”
This is the first time in NHRA’s playoff era that a class points leader has willingly skipped races.
The next race for the Elite Motorsports team will take place Aug. 14-17 with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.
(Photos by Ian Tocher; Click to enlarge)