Enders powers to favored status at 4-Wide NHRA Nationals
CONCORD, NC – GK Motorsports driver Erica Enders posted her best qualifying effort of the season Saturday and will start final eliminations for the 4-Wide NHRA Nationals from the No. 4 position.
Enders surged to the top quarter of the field in Saturday's first session, going 6.517 seconds at 212.33 mph in her Chevrolet Cobalt.
"You can throw Friday out the window," Enders said of her first two qualifying sessions, when she finished No. 14. "We made a bunch of changes coming into today, and it showed in the first session this morning. We were trying some stuff in the last round, so we should be good for tomorrow, and I'm confident that we will be."
With the unique four-wide format, Enders will be the top qualifier in her quad. She faces No. 5 qualifier Mike Edwards, No. 12 Steve Kent and No. 13 Grace Howell in the first round. The top two advance to the semifinals.
The Charlotte race is the only national event that uses four lanes instead of the usual two. That ups the difficulty of staging, as witnessed by the final qualifying session. Three of the drivers in Enders' group pre-staged and staged, but Jason Line did not stage, thinking his bulb already indicated he had.
Line was then was timed out, and the remaining three had slower-than-usual reaction times, though Enders was best.
"It's difficult because it's different," Enders said of racing four-wide. "It's just so different from anything else we do, but it's really not that hard of a concept. Your stage bulb goes with your lane, and you can throw the rest out. The only thing that can set people off, and we saw it in the last session, is when one of the drivers doesn't know what stage light was his. (Line) got timed out, and that throws everybody else off. You've just got to be ready for anything because anything can happen with this format."
Enders' approach to eliminations will be to try to keep her staging process as simple as possible.
"You've got the best drivers in the world out there, but we're all human," Enders said. "It's difficult, different. But like I said coming in here, I'm confident on our abilities and the performance of our car and my driving and ability to set aside the distractions and focus on me, my car and my lane."
Sudden-death eliminations begin at noon local time and will be carried in tape delay on ESPN2.