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Erica Enders Powers To A Win And A No. 1 Qualifier At NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals


Five-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders showed the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series that her car troubles are far behind her this weekend when she rocketed to her first win of the season after securing the pole position at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Her Elite Motorsports teammate Aaron Stanfield won the NHRA Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty specialty event on Saturday, making it a great weekend all-around for Elite Motorsports, the largest professional team in drag racing. 

Enders’ Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage / Melling Performance Camaro laid down a blistering pass of 6.627-seconds at 205.88 mph on Friday evening to secure her first No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 30th of her impressive Pro Stock career. She went on to turn on four win lights on Sunday to pick up her 44th Pro Stock career victory. 

“Nothing will ever top the feeling of seeing that beacon light up around this time on Sunday,” said Enders. “This is for my guys. I have two new guys on my team, Connor and Declan. This is for the crew. They don’t quit. They don’t get down. They don’t give up. And that’s the most challenging part of all of this – to hear the negative scuttlebutt, all the people saying my career is over. But this just shows that it isn’t. JHG, Melling Performance, SCAG, thank you so much. I give God all the glory. This is awesome!”

Stanfield landed the NHRA Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty victory during qualifying on Saturday. His Janac Brothers / JC3 Energy Camaro won against Deric Kramer in the first round with a terrific run of 6.631 at 206.80 before defeating Pro Stock points leader Dallas Glenn in the final round of the specialty race. He also went on to score a victory in the Factory Stock Showdown category.

“Qualifying is normally about making a nice clean run,” said Stanfield, after winning the NHRA Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty race. “To add a little competition in there to turn on the win light and get a little payback from the last race is cool. I was glad to be a part of it. Drag racing has got a lot of highs and lows. We were struggling a little bit at the beginning of this season but we’ve turned it around and I’ve got a really good hot rod.”

With eight Pro Stock drivers making it into the incredibly tight qualifying field on race day, Troy Coughlin Jr., Bo Butner and Jerry Tucker made early first-round exits. In one of two all-Elite first-round matchups, twin brothers Cristian Cuadra and David Cuadra faced each other. C. Cuadra got the starting line advantage and held on to it for the win. In the next pair, Stanfield defeated Fernando Cuadra Jr. with the lowest elapsed time of the round, a 6.646 at 206.10. Enders defeated Mason McGaha in the final pass of the round.

After a brief rain delay, quarter-final competition kicked off with C. Cuadra powering past Camrie Caruso in his Corral Boots Mustang to advance to the semifinals. Enders defeated Kyle Koretsky on a holeshot while Stanfield’s car did not get off of the starting line, ceding the win to Kramer. 

In the Pro Stock semifinals, C. Cuadra’s car squared the tires off of the hit against Kramer causing him to shut down early and give the win to Kramer. Enders powered her way into her first final round of the season when Greg Anderson experienced trouble on the line and had to shut down before staging. 

In the final round, Enders defeated Kramer thanks to a stellar light (.015-seconds) and a powerful pass of 6.680 at 204.08.

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The next event for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will be the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, June 22-25 in Norwalk, Ohio.

This story was originally published on June 12, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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