Erica Enders has been around Pro Stock long enough to know that things go in cycles. Heading to Brainerd this weekend for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Enders is plenty ready for that cycle to swing in her favor.
It hasn’t yet this season, as Enders is still seeking her first win of the 2019 NHRA Pro Stock season, but the veteran isn’t lacking confidence, in part because of how her team continues to work.
“We prepare the best we can and if we continue to work hard, I feel good that it’s going to work out,” Enders said. “I think our time will come and we’ve got the tenacity to work through it. We’re not running poorly, we just need a little luck. There’s definitely a little pressure with just two races before the Countdown, but I’m confident we’ll be ready this weekend.”
Enders finished the Western Swing in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with a quarterfinal showing in Seattle, and she’ll look to take a big leap at Brainerd International Raceway.
It marks the 11th of 18 races during the 2019 NHRA Pro Stock season, meaning it serves as the penultimate race of the regular season. Sitting eighth in points, that means there’s some urgency for Enders, a 23-time event winner, to find the momentum she needs to compete for a third championship.
But Enders knows her team can get on a hot streak in a hurry, and with points-and-a-half on the line in Indy and everything being reset for the Countdown to the Championship, a strong showing in Brainerd could put the standout in prime position to compete for another title.
“As soon as the Countdown starts, my money’s on us,” Enders said. “Hopefully things swing in our direction at the right time, but I think we’ll be fine. I know the work everyone on this team puts in, and I’m just ready to get this monkey off my back and get a win this weekend.”
Brainerd is home to one of the most unique atmospheres on the NHRA circuit and plenty of good vibes for Enders as well. She won the race in 2012 and 2015, while the party-like atmosphere – spurred by “The Zoo” campground – can make for a festive scene.
For Enders, a trip to Brainerd is all business, but soaking in the experience and feeding off the fans is an enjoyable part of the weekend. Plus, the temperatures will be far cooler than what Enders and the Elite Motorsports team are currently experiencing with 100-plus degree days at their Wynnewood, Okla. headquarters.
“I love Brainerd and it’s a lot of fun there, and we’re definitely looking forward to the weather break,” Enders said. “To go up there and race in temperatures in the 70s and 80s, I’m definitely excited about that. I love the atmosphere there and the fans are so cool, and it’s always nice to go to a track where you’ve had success in the past.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Television coverage includes live qualifying coverage on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) at 7 p.m. ET on Friday and continuing qualifying coverage at 11 p.m. on Saturday. Eliminations will be shown from 2-5 p.m. on FS1 on Sunday.