Erica Enders attended the Saturday night St. Louis Cardinals-Washington Nationals baseball game -- which had National League playoff implications -- with Allen Johnson and his family.
Across the Mississippi River from Busch Stadium Sunday, Enders and Johnson met in the Pro Stock class' final round of the NHRA's AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals, and she executed a double-play, of sorts, against Johnson. Their meeting had playoff implications, too, and she beat him and did it with a holeshot.
With that, Enders moved into third place and sent points leader Johnson the message he has others to contend with besides Jason Line, the No. 2-ranked driver and reigning class champion.
She whittled her deficit to 126 points. Johnson leads Line in the standings by 109 points, and Enders is 17 points behind Line as the fourth race of the six-event Countdown -- the Auto-Plus Nationals -- awaits this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway, near Reading, Pa.
Enders, driving the Cagnazzi Racing-owned GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt, used a .013-second reaction time to Johnson's outstanding .019 to win with a 6.540-second elapsed time at 211.79 mph. Johnson challenged in his Team Mopar / J&J Racing Dodge Avenger with a quicker and faster 6.538-second, 212.13-mph pass at Gateway Motorsports Park at Madison, Ill.
She earned her fourth victory in the past 10 races and the fourth in seven final-round appearances. She defeated Shane Gray, her own crew chief Dave Connolly, and top qualifier Line before denying Johnson his sixth victory in his ninth final round of the season.
She also paid back Johnson for winning their final-round match a week ago in the AAA Texas Fall Nationals, near Dallas. It marked her second final-round triumph over Johnson in five events. She beat him in August at Brainerd, Minn.
Enders said following her four-thousandth-of-a-second victory margin that she had wanted to win the previous Sunday in her home state of Texas and that she told Johnson -- whom she teasingly calls "Brutus" -- that this time it was her turn to win.
"We've had a really consistent hot rod. It wasn't the fastest one on the property today, but it was definitely consistent, and that's what counts on Sunday," she said. "I'm really proud to race my bud in the final but even more proud to stand in the winners circle.
"It's a total team effort, and I can't thank my guys enough. I say it week in and week out, but they're the reason I get to do this. We got down a tricky racetrack when there was Pro Stock pedalfest out there, so they get all the credit in the world for this one," Enders said.
"I knew we were a little bit behind, performance-wise, in the final, and I needed to step up to the plate. I couldn't let 'em down."
Johnson plowed though a talented lineup of Greg Stanfield, Mike Edwards, and Vincent Nobile to reach the final round.
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