ERICA ENDERS SNARES NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITION IN ST.
History awaits NHRA Pro Stock star Erica Enders and she put herself in an even better position to make history Sunday.
Enders, the reigning Pro Stock world champion, who is one national event win away from becoming the all-time winningest female driver in NHRA history, qualified No. 1 at the Midwest Nationals in St. Louis.
Enders clocked a 6.549-second run at 209.75 mph Friday, and that held through Saturday’s two qualifying sessions at World Wide Technology
Raceway. She kept the No. 1 slot based on her mph. Matt Hartford had a 6.549-second lap in Q3, but came across the line at 207.75 mph.
“It definitely felt awesome, and I say this a lot, but I feed off Mark Ingersoll, who's my crew chief,” Enders said about her Friday run. “I always ask him before I fire, ‘How's the track look? Are we going to be good?' He said, ‘We're fixing to crush them.’ So, I really enjoy his confidence because it, in turn, gives me confidence.”
This is Enders fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season and third in the row in the first three races of the six-race Countdown to the Championship. Enders, who drives the Elite Motorsports Camaro, now has 34 No. 1 qualifiers in her Pro Stock career. She arrived in St. Louis just four points behind points leader Hartford, and she trimmed to gap to two points with her five bonus markers through the first two qualifying sessions.
Enders was second in Q2 – behind Hartford – with her 6.571-second lap. In Q3, Enders clocked a 6.550-second run to get two bonus points. So,
Hartford kept the slim points lead.
Enders is tied with Angelle Sampey for most national event wins by a woman in NHRA history at 46. Enders won world championships in 2014-15, 2019-2020 and 2022. In the process, she has won 45 national events in Pro Stock to go with the Wally she won in Super Gas in 2004 in Houston and she is tied with Sampey.
A win in St. Louis would not be surprising for Enders based on her past. No professional driver has more wins in St. Louis than Enders, who has six. Enders has won the title at the track the past four years in addition to 2012-13.
“This place has always been amazing to me. I had a win come early on when I just had one or two in Pro Stock here at St. Louis,” she said. “And to have the last four years in a row is pretty awesome. But it's Mark's home track, and he wants to swing hard here. All those baby points (in qualifying) matter when they tally them up at the end.”
Although Enders has had massive success in St. Louis, she’s acknowledged there’s no secret formula.
“It's definitely not easy, and I can't explain it,” Enders said. “ ... Vegas is another place that's been really good to me. Bristol (Tenn.) has been great to me and obviously St. Louis. But I really can't explain it, but it does give us extra motivation being that it's Mark's home track. And when we lost in Charlotte last week, I was pretty disgusted with myself and he's like, ‘This is our worst track, Erica. For the next ones that
we're going to -- St. Louis, Dallas, Vegas, Pomona -- we always do well there, so we'll just throw this one out. There's a lot of racing left.’ He wants to bring it home here at his home track.”
Enders lost in the semifinals in the first two Countdown races – in Reading and Charlotte – to Hartford and Greg Anderson, respectively.
“My sister (Courtney) and I have kind of coined the phrase 'everything changes in St. Louis,' and we're the positive mindset people that want to
speak it into existence as well,” Erica said. “So, we'll just go ahead and hope that that's going to be the outcome. But when we went into the Countdown, we obviously haven't won one yet, but I said, ‘Three races in a row. In three
weeks, I'm going to know where I stand, and maybe my stomach can relax a little bit.’ But it's so fun coming here. I raced Super Comp and Super Gas here as a kid. And then we actually announced my Pro Stock. We made the announcement with Victor Cagnazzi here in 2004. So, this place has a lot of really great memories for me and excited to have things change in St.
Enders races Eric Latino in the first round Sunday.