After a season debut that included plenty of promise in a brand new car, two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders hopes to realize that full potential this weekend in Phoenix.
Enders debuted a new RJ Race Cars Elite Motorsports/Melling Performance Chevrolet Camaro at the NHRA season-opener in Pomona, advancing to the semifinals. But she was left wanting more after an uncharacteristic light and Enders is ready to make amends at this weekend’s Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix.
“I feel like we’re in a good position, but I definitely feel like one slipped through our fingers and it’s nobody’s fault but my own,” said Enders, who has 23 career Pro Stock wins. “I felt comfortable and confident in the new car, but we’re only going to get better with the car and I’m only going to get better in the driver’s seat.”
There were plenty of positives, including Enders qualifying second and going a weekend-best 6.510 at 212.09 mph in a second-round victory against Matt Hartford. That round also included a .014 reaction time, while Enders was a near-perfect .001 on the starting line in her first-round victory.
But she couldn’t replicate that in the semifinals against eventual winner Bo Butner, which has Enders looking for redemption in Phoenix, where she has one career victory (2013).
Crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones put together a new clutch pedal and linkage parts for the Camaro heading into Phoenix, making minor tweaks to make the new car even more impressive. Enders will sit in the car and visualize a number of runs when she arrives at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, confident the small changes can help put the team over the top this weekend.
“Visualization is big for me and something my dad taught me,” Enders said. “Ninety percent of this is a mental game. The mechanics are challenging and you have to be perfect, but the rest of it is mental. I’m fortunate to have the two guys who built the car as crew chiefs, so that doesn’t hurt, either. I’m lucky to have them and I feed off their confidence.”
That’s translated well throughout the years Enders has worked with Rick and Rickie Jones and having performed well in the new car at Phoenix during the test session earlier this month, she takes high hopes into the weekend.
With Elite Motorsports denied a berth in the final round in Pomona, Enders and her teammates are also determined to change that in Phoenix. For Enders, her mindset comes from an inner focus and a list of goals she put together for 2019 that includes not taking any rounds lightly.
She’s locked in on having a great reaction time in crunch time and is eager to have that come to fruition in Phoenix, which is the second of 18 Pro Stock races during the 2019 season.
“Having that mindset is definitely helpful,” Enders said. “I want to go up there and crush it every single time. The goal is to treat every round like it matters the most.”