On a day when the mainstream media swooned over an eighth-place finish for a female driver, Erica Enders–Stevens wanted to do her part to show drag racing had already “been there, done that”.
Enders-Stevens, driving the GK Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt, scored her fifth career Pro Stock victory and the second professional victory for a female driver already this season. Enders–Stevens' quicker reaction time enabled her to beat No. 1 qualifier Mike Edwards.
“We had come into this event following a tough weekend in Pomona where we blew up one of our best engines in the first round,” said Enders–Stevens, who entered Sunday’s eliminations as seventh quickest with a 6.555 best. “This was an important win for us to put everything together to get momentum for this season. We were able to run very consistent but not real well. We were right in the middle of the pack.
Enders-Stevens might have been just “one of the guys” for much of the weekend, but during the final round, she was brutal against the one driver who had bullied the competition all weekend long.
Her 6.538, 211.99 mph pass coupled with a .053 starting line advantage was enough to fend off a much quicker 6.520 recorded by Edwards.
“Sometimes consistency pays off,” Enders-Stevens added.
Enders-Stevens maintained a mid-6.5-second pass in beating Shane Gray, V. Gaines and Jason Line to reach the finals.
While Enders-Stevens was more than happy to make her mark as the only professional female racer to win on Sunday, she was all too willing to offer praise for Danica Patrick’s eight-place Daytona 500 finish.
“I’m really happy for what Danica did in qualifying for the Daytona 500,” said Enders-Stevens. “I knew this was going to be talked about for a really long time [with her running the Daytona 500] and she had a top ten finish. Tremendous job. I’m sure those [NASCAR Sprint Cup] cars aren’t easy to drive.”
While Enders-Stevens could have elaborated more, she chose to switch the conversation to the efforts of her team. She said they deserved a lot of credit for Sunday’s success.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Enders-Stevens said. “Coming off of a season like we had last year and starting the season like we did this year. It’s kind of gut-check in the sense of ‘are we ever going to be able to get it done.”
“Granted, we are only two races into the season but we worked our butts off during the off-season. My team did. We didn’t test a lot and I was nervous coming into the season because all of the other big teams had tested so much. My team proved they can pick up right where they left off.”
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