Erica Enders is expecting an array of emotions heading into Las Vegas for this weekend’s Dodge NHRA Nationals. But the mix of nerves, fun, focus and pressure simply means the Pro Stock world championship is close to being decided and Enders will have a major say in it.
She’s the current points leader in the class, holding a 28-point lead heading to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the penultimate race of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Enders thrived in Vegas during her two championship years – winning a combined four times – and another victory this weekend in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro would give her the inside track for a highly sought after third world title.
“I’m anticipating a lot of fun, stress, pressure and all the things that come with chasing a championship, but this team is up for the challenge,” Enders said. “There’s a lot of positive talk and we’re locked and loaded. We’ve been in these situations before and we feel like this is something we’re good at. Everything we’ve worked for comes down to these last two events, but I can confidently say we’re very prepared and we’ve done the best we can leading to this point.”
The top three in the points standings are all in the Elite Motorsports camp, as Matt Hartford sits in second and Jeg Coughlin Jr. is 65 points back. But four more drivers are within 100 points of Enders, meaning it will be an epic fight to the finish for a world title.
The good news for Enders, who has 24 career wins, is her team, led by crew chiefs Rick Jones and Mark Ingersoll, continues to perform at a high level. They fell in the second round at the most recent race in Dallas, but Enders was again outstanding in qualifying, picking up a number of bonus points.
In that regard, the mindset is the same heading to Vegas.
“The bottom line is we just have to continue to make killer runs every qualifying session and pick up as many points as we can,” Enders said. “We want to keep that trend going, and we know if we can go out and win the race we can extend the lead. That’s our focus for this weekend and it’s a pretty exciting possibility.”
Racing in Vegas also brings out the best in Enders, and she feels completely comfortable thriving in the big moments at the facility.
It’s been one of her favorite tracks on the NHRA circuit for years, adding a dose of confidence heading into the critical weekend.
“Vegas is a track that’s been really, really great to us. We’ve got a good tune-up and a bunch of data for Vegas, and a lot of fond memories there,” Enders said. “We’ve got to go out and expect great things. The biggest part of the challenge is the mental side of it, but we’re going to do out and do the best we can.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. PT on Friday and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday at 12:45 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday.