There’s plenty on the line this weekend as Erica Enders looks to stay in the Pro Stock points lead at the 38th annual Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex, the main event of the legendary track’s Stampede of Speed.
Another win could give the defending world champion the most by any female in NHRA history, breaking a tie with Angelle Sampey, who is also making her Top Alcohol Dragster debut this weekend in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
There’s also the matter of defending her event win at the Texas Motorplex – a genuine big deal for the Texas native – and maintaining the points lead in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance Chevrolet Camaro. She enters the Countdown to the Championship with a slim 25-point lead over rival Greg Anderson and a 38-point advantage against Matt Hartford, looking to pick up her first playoff win this year.
“We’re obviously excited to come back to Dallas,” Enders said. “It’s been good to us and we’re looking to get another win here as well. We’re coming in with the lead and the goal is to keep it and extend it this weekend. The start of the season has really made me want to enjoy it more because it is so hard to get there. I would put my guys against anyone in the world. I have the absolute best guys on the planet and I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else. It’s definitely going to be a dogfight, but I’m excited to see how these last three races go.”
Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Enders (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home victories last season. This year’s race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and marks the fourth of six events in the Countdown to the Championship. The weekend opens with “Friday Night Live,” as the quickest pass under the lights on Friday at the famed Texas Motorplex will net Top Fuel and Funny Car stars $15,000 each in bonus money, with $7,500 going to the top Friday qualifier in Pro Stock and $5,000 in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
It also marks the 350th career Pro Stock race for Enders, a five-time world champion, adding another major milestone to this weekend. But she also enters with plenty of momentum, picking up three straight No. 1 qualifiers in the playoffs.
While she’s been consistent – moving into the points lead in St. Louis – Enders is also seeking her first finals appearance in the Countdown to the Championship. Should it happen in Dallas, Enders will have to get past the likes of Anderson, Hartford, Dallas Glenn, who is 64 points out of first, Aaron Stanfield and Troy Coughlin Jr.
Anderson has won the last two playoff races to get within striking distance of Enders, setting up what could be another marquee showdown for the two five-time Pro Stock world champions.
“I definitely love going to battle with him,” Enders said. “We finished last year first and second, and that’s how it is right now going into these last three races. If I had to bet my own money, I’d bet it’s going to come down to us at the wire, but there’s a lot of other great drivers, too, and it’s going to be cutthroat. I think our class has been in the best shape it’s been in for quite some time. It’s really awesome to see so many great drivers and this class is thriving.”
Speaking of milestones, Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Eddie Krawiec can get one this weekend if he picks up the Dallas victory. He’s been stuck on 49 career wins on his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki since 2021, falling in the final round to teammate Gaige Herrera in St. Louis.
Of course, nobody has been able to stop Herrera, who has won back-to-back playoff races to take a 99-point lead over defending world champion Matt Smith. Hector Arana Jr. is in third, looking for a Dallas repeat, while Krawiec is 129 points out of first, looking to pick up a meaningful victory in Dallas, where he’s previously won a class-best three times.
“I’ve got a great motorcycle and I really think we’ve turned the corner,” Krawiec said. “I’m excited about it and there’s a lot of great motorcycles in the category right now. If you’re not, you’re not going to get that win. I’ve been trying to clean it up on the starting line, so we’ll see what happens in Dallas. Gaige is on a different level right now and when you break it down, he’s just doing an exceptional job with that motorcycle and it’s making it very hard to catch them. But we’ll see if we can go a round further and get that 50th win.”
Kalitta is after his first Top Fuel world championship, but Leah Pruett is only 47 points back. Texan Steve Torrence is just 51 points out of the lead, while defending event winner Ashley remains in title contention as well. Other top names include defending world champ Brittany Force, Antron Brown, Mike Salinas and Clay Millican.
Reigning Funny Car world champion Capps defeated Matt Hagan in the 2022 Dallas final, giving Capps his second consecutive Dallas win and third from the facility. In a tight four-car race, Capps trails points leader Bob Tasca III by 33 points. Robert Hight is just six points back, while Matt Hagan is third and is a mere 13 points behind.
The Texas NHRA FallNationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which includes some of the sport’s top drivers, as well as the penultimate race of the season in Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown. The weekend will also include the Jr. Dragster Shootout, as well as a jet dragster and wheelstander exhibition after nitro qualifying on Friday.
Fans will also be treated to the JEG’s Allstars event, which pits sportsman racers from across the country against each other for the ultimate drag racing battle. The popular competition will take place at the famed Texas Motorplex for the first time and the unique specialty race is one of most highly-anticipated events of the year.
Race fans at Texas Motorplex can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Texas NHRA FallNationals event winners.
Leading into the race, fans can take part in the NHRA FanFest in downtown Waxahachie (October 12), where fans can meet and get autographs from all the top stars in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.
Fans are invited to the Nitro Alley Stage all weekend, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into Nitro Alley. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets and much more. As always, fans get a pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans can see their favorite teams in action and servicing their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. They can also visit NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, merchandise, food, and fun.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. CT on Friday, Oct. 13, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12:00 p.m. CT on Sunday, Oct. 16. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday and as well as action from eliminations at 3 p.m.
To purchase tickets to the Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex, call 800-668-6775 or visit tickets.texasmotorplex.com. Children 12 and under are admitted free in general admissions areas with a paid adult. For more information about NHRA, visit www.nhra.com.