St. Louis proved to be a pivotal weekend for Erica Enders a year ago as she chased a third Pro Stock world championship. In the middle of an intense points battle as a wild 2020 NHRA season hits crunch time at this weekend’s NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway Park, Enders hopes St. Louis proves to be another game-changing event.
When Enders won the race last year, it was her first of the season, vaulting her into the championship mix in a major way. She closed the gap to Jason Line to 11 points and, using that momentum, Enders jumped into the lead a race later and never relinquished it. Sitting a mere two points back of Line entering the weekend this year, another St. Louis win could put Enders in prime position for another world title in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
“St. Louis has been great to me in past years and I’m hoping that trend continues. This race last year was the game changer for us,” said Enders, who has three career Pro Stock wins in St. Louis. “My sister (Courtney) and I were talking about it today. Last year, she told me, ‘This is where it will all change and you will become a three-time champ.’ She was right and she said it again (Friday) as we are working really hard to win our fourth (title).
“I love racing here. The conditions are certainly very different this year, but I put my money on my team and crew chiefs, Rick Jones and Mark Ingersoll. Along with the help of Rickie Jones, they are the baddest dudes in Pro Stock and I’m lucky to have them. When our backs are against the wall, they never let me down. I’m full of optimism and have high expectations for the weekend. We will focus hard, execute flawlessly and race with all the heart we have.”
The NHRA Midwest Nationals is the seventh of 10 Pro Stock events during the 2020 season. There is no Countdown to the Championship this year, but with a tight points battle between Line, Enders and her teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., it will be just as heated down the stretch.
Line slipped past Enders in the second round last weekend in Gainesville, but Enders is only two points back and can jump back in front with a good weekend in St. Louis, where cooler weather could provide possible record-breaking conditions. Coughlin is only 32 points behind Enders, who knows every run will count in this points battle. The goal is to defend her world title and become the first four-time female world champion in NHRA history, but to get there it starts with a strong performance in St. Louis.
“We had a real shot to spread the gap last weekend had I beat Jason, but it wasn’t meant to be. The positive I take from it is that we have a great race car and a great set up right now,” said Enders, who has 27 career Pro Stock wins, including two in 2020. “We were the fastest car on race day in Gainesville and I know we will run stout (in St. Louis) as well. The points are tight and it is going to be a dog fight to the end, just like I stated earlier in the year.
“As we are trying to secure our fourth world championship, the two guys I have to beat (Line and Coughlin) are retiring at the end of the year, so I know they are going to give it their all as well. We will fight to the end and execute the best we can. I’m looking forward to the final four events.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:30 and 4:00 p.m. CT on Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday and at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Eliminations will be broadcast live beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, on FS1.