Larry Morgan said he had the steering wheel turned a quarter turn in his first round race in the O’Reilly NHRA Nationals at zMax. The veteran driver said he’s never made this much of a drastic turn in his over two decades worth of Pro Stock racing.
Erica Enders admitted she threw in the towel early on what could have been a winning first round run because he car felt just like it did the moments before she crashed in a testing accident years ago in Bradenton, Fla.
Shane Gray, in the second round of Pro Stock eliminations, had his Camaro drift onto the outer edge of the groove and the move ended up costing him a race car.
This was the challenging conditions many of the Pro Stock racers faced during Sunday’s rain-delayed eliminations. Many of the drivers who navigated the racing surface said the difference between a full run and aborted effort was based on the ability to keep the car in the groove.
“Turning a quarter-turn in one of these cars is a big deal,” said Morgan, who reached the quarter-finals Sunday. “In my whole career I’ve never had that much. I watched Erica from the other end of the track and she was big time loose. There was nothing she could do.”
Morgan, who at times has been outspoken against the NHRA, said he believed there was nothing the NHRA could have done.
“The spray just won’t adhere to the track,” Morgan said. “You have moisture in between and there’s nothing you can do.”
This was of little solace to Enders, who entered the Countdown 150 points out of first, falling two spots, to sixth, with the loss.
“I’ve got thousands of runs in these cars, and I’m by no means a Warren Johnson, and I’ve gone down plenty of dangerous race tracks and that was absolutely out of hand,” explained Enders. “It’s not what any of us expected for the first race of the Countdown. I expect a safe racing surface and that wasn’t given to us this first round and it’s really unfortunate. This is the race where you want to get off on the right foot. We left on Warren and were .988 down low and had him covered. The car was loose all the way down the track. When I plugged the car into fifth, it made a move. Then it made a second move and it felt the same as when I crashed in Bradenton. I just clutched and hit the parachutes.”
The moves Enders said she felt, showed on the car’s side g-meter which was pegged with energy from the car moving side to side.
“That’s what I felt from the seat of my pants, and on a normal runs, it is usually a half-inch … on that run, it was two inches,” she explained.
Enders couldn’t say for certain she would have crashed if she hadn’t aborted the run. What she could say is pulling the parachute is usually the driver’s last option to save an errant race car.
“Nine times out of ten, it straightens it up,” she explained. “It’s hard to say but I will tell you that’s the loosest I’ve been in a race car in eight years.”
Enders also said nine times out of ten this season, the track has been prepared to perfection. But this time, something was done different for Pro Stock.
Morgan pointed out there was only one option which could have made the track better was more cars down the track.
“The only thing that would have made it better was a lot of runs down the track,” said Morgan. “There was no win for them.”
And for Enders, there was no winning for her either.
“When you focus on the positives, our race car is in one piece,” Enders said. “It would be hell to build a new one in the Countdown.
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