In just her second season in Pro Stock in 2006, Erica Enders picked up her first No. 1 qualifier at Heartland Motorsports Park.
Now in her second season racing in NHRA Pro Mod, Enders wouldn’t mind another great weekend in Topeka as part of the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties. It is the sixth of 12 races during the NHRA Pro Mod season, and Enders hopes to build on her early-season momentum in her turbocharged Camaro from RJ Race Cars.
“It’s a really nice facility with some awesome people, and it’s a track I really enjoy going to,” Enders said. “We’re optimistic. We struggled with my car in Richmond, but we figured out some of the problems and hopefully we can apply that this weekend in Topeka.”
The first-round loss in Richmond was the rare rough spot in what has otherwise been a solid year for Enders and her Elite Motorsports team in Pro Mod.
The two-time Pro Stock world champ and her team have made impressive progress in a short time in the loaded Pro Mod ranks, with veteran Steve Matusek and Alex Laughlin, who is also pulling double-duty like Enders, combining for a formidable Elite Motorsports trio. Matusek advanced to the semifinals in Richmond, giving the team something positive to work with heading to Topeka.
“Steve had an excellent run in Richmond and did a great job driving,” Enders said. “We’re all teammates, so that was good to see. But I’ve got an RJ car, so my car is a little different. We’re treating the car like it’s own and tuning it accordingly, but I fully expect Alex and Steve to run well and hopefully what we addressed will work.”
Despite the challenges, Enders continues to enjoy the new journey.
She will compete as part of a 26-car field in Topeka and qualifying in the field is no sure thing. But Enders loves that type of challenge and her confidence continues to grow, especially coming on the heels of her biggest Pro Stock success of the season.
She went to her first final round of the year in Chicago, and while the 23-time event winner doesn’t race Pro Stock again for two weeks, there is definitely a confidence carry-over as she hops from one class to another. Plus, part of the Elite Motorsports team will stay back and continue to work on the Pro Stock car.
“I got in a groove on the starting line and I think that’s from the confidence my guys have,” Enders said. “We race Pro Mod with three guys per car, while you need 6-8 in Pro Stock. So we’re able to keep some of the guys back at the shop working on our Pro Stock car, while still furthering the Pro Mod program. We’re switching a lot of hats, but teamwork makes the dream work with our group.”
The first of four E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service qualifying sessions takes place at 4:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Friday, and the final two rounds of qualifying take place on Saturday at 12:00 and 3:15 p.m. The first round of Pro Mod eliminations are scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Sunday.