The type of weekend Erica Enders hoped to have in both Pro Stock and Pro Mod did not come to fruition at the Virginia NHRA Nationals. But the two-time Pro Stock world champion remains confident that the pendulum is about to swing her way, and when it does, she’ll be ready.
It didn’t happen in Virginia, as she fell in the second round in Pro Stock and the opening round in Pro Mod, but the struggles have only motivated Enders and her Elite Motorsports team leaving Virginia Motorsports Park.
“It was the longest I’ve been out of the seat in eight years (in Pro Stock), so that felt a little different. But I felt like I drove really well, so I was pleased with that part,” Enders said. “Other than that, I’m ready to move onto Chicago. I know we have the right people and there’s no quit in us. We’ll be ready for the challenge.”
The good news is Enders didn’t fall far in either class, slipping to seventh in Pro Stock points after the fifth of 18 races and staying ninth in Pro Mod following the fifth of 12 events.
But Enders wasn’t satisfied with the progress in either class, despite qualifying fourth in Pro Stock in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Camaro. Despite not racing in six weeks in the class due to Pro Stock’s new 18-race schedule, Enders raced to a 6.573 at 208.59 mph, picking up a first round win against Kenny Delco. But she fell a round later to Greg Anderson, slowing to a 6.668 at 206.95.
In Pro Mod, the team struggled in qualifying, slipping into the final spot with a 5.876 at 256.65 in Enders’ turbocharged Camaro before falling to No. 1 qualifier Khalid AlBalooshi in the first round. There, Enders went 6.072 at 222.29, running into issues down track.
“We only got down the track one time in Pro Mod, so we had to make some pretty big changes going into eliminations,” Enders said. “Being on the bump, we were trying anything we could to have a chance against AlBalooshi. We learned some things, but we had some issues down track that we’re going to have to work on now.”
With a week off, Enders plans to test in both classes before returning to Pro Stock in two weeks in Chicago. That race at Route 66 Raceway – which is the site of Enders’ first career Pro Stock win in 2012 – starts a rigorous stretch of four straight races where Enders will race twice in Pro Stock (Chicago and Norwalk) and three times in Pro Mod (Topeka, Bristol and Norwalk).
Enders knows that means any issues with either car will need to be sorted out by then, but she views it as a tremendous opportunity to get the season trending in the right direction. It will be a significant test, but those are the types of challenges the 23-time event winner has thrived in throughout her standout career.
“I just want to get back to where I’m bulletproof and confident in myself and my equipment,” Enders said. “I hate the lack of performance from me this year and that’s something I have to get under wraps. As a whole, we just have to race like we know how to race. That’s our goal for Chicago and I’m confident we can do it.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues to Chicago for the Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway May 30-June 2.