After an uncharacteristic first-round loss in Chicago, NHRA Pro Stock star Erica Enders wasted no time in finding her groove at the next national event: Epping, N.H.

Enders clocked a 6.488-second elapsed time at 211.79 mph in Q2 Friday, and the ET held through Saturday giving her the No. 1 qualifying position at the New England Nationals.

Enders, a six-time world champion (2014-15, 2019-20 and 2022-23) collected her 37th career No. 1 qualifier and third this season to go along with those from Gainesville and Chicago.

“(Saturday) will give us a raceday tune-up for (Sunday),” Enders said. “I think (Sunday) is going to be a couple of degrees warmer than (Saturday). Our biggest challenge is going to be the tricky racetrack, but I’m thankful that is my crew chief’s job and I just have to try to stay focused on my job. Not the numbers we would have loved to put up (Saturday), but again it is going to be tricky (Sunday), so we will just put our heads down and go to work.”

Enders, who pilots the Johnson's Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance/SCAG Power Equipment Camaro for Elite Motorsports, faces Fernando Cuadra Jr. in Round One.

Qualifying No. 1 is “very important just for your mental state,” Enders said. “I have 56 guys on the road full-time, and I don’t want to let them down just like they don’t want to let me down. After last week, they reminded me how many times I saved them. They were definitely in my corner when they could have beat me up and they didn’t. It just proves that we are all human, and sometimes your best isn’t good enough and that’s OK. We will just go to the next one and we have a few ahead of us before the Countdown starts and I will get my act together, I promise. I usually do.”       

Enders has one win this year — at the season-opening Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. — and she knew how important Friday’s qualifying sessions in Epping were because of the warmer weather for the remainder of the weekend.     

In Chicago, Enders qualified No 1 and was beaten on a holeshot by John DeFlorian Jr.    

“Very important,” said Enders when asked about Friday’s two qualifying sessions. “We knew that was obviously going to be the session looking at the extended forecast. We used Q1 as ‘get your bearings (straight)’ and Q2 was ‘let’s go after that,’ and they did just that. Putting up a .48 was really exciting. I think we came within a few thousandths of the track record which was also exciting. I have a fast hot rod again, I just have to go do my job” Sunday.

The Pro Stock track record at New England Dragway is 6.485 seconds, set by Shane Gray in 2014.

Enders isn’t worried about records. Instead, she’s concentrating on her duties as a driver on raceday.

“I need to stay focused and not allow the outside distractions to get in my head; again, easier said than done,” Enders said. “But I have done it for 20-something years now, and we have a lot of experience at it, and I will just hope for the best and let God do the rest.”

Enders is no stranger to success in Epping. Enders won the event in 2017 and 2022 and was runner-up in 2018 and she believes those results will benefit her Sunday.

“Leaving Chicago, I was excited to have Epping and Bristol (Tenn.) back to back,” Enders said. “We have won in Epping a couple of times, and I think we have won three times in Bristol, and it has been a really great racetrack for us and usually on Father’s Day weekend. I always like getting a Wally for my dad on Father’s Day. Yes, I do enjoy going back to racetracks where we have had success. It allows you to start out on a positive note instead of saying, ‘Oh, crap we have not done that well here.’ We have those places as well, so we just have to remain positive and visualize what we want and go get it.”