KLR Group pro Enders gives one away in Kansas
TOPEKA, KS – KLR Group Pro Stock driver Erica Enders knew she had to be on her game Sunday in the second round of the Dollar General NHRA Summernationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
Enders was her usual solid self in a convincing first-round victory, but she left a tick of the clock too soon in the quarterfinals and lost on a red light.
The clock showed that Enders left -.003 seconds too early against Round 2 opponent Shane Gray, enabling Gray to advance to the semifinals, where he lost to eventual race winner Allen Johnson.
"In the first round Shane outran us and he was the same as me on the Tree," Enders said. "I knew I had to step up my game because he was coming off a holeshot loss against me at Atlanta. I knew he was going to bring it because he takes a lot of pride in his reaction times, just like I do.
"I went up there, I was calm, let the clutch out and I was on the wrong side of the green light."
Enders qualified No. 5 for Topeka, her second-best qualifying effort of the season. She had a .034-second reaction time in her first-round win over Chris McGaha, then outran McGaha with a her best pass of the weekend – 6.598 seconds at 209.14 – to his 6.644 at 208.49 mph.
"We were fourth pair out, so we got to see some cars go down before we raced," Enders said. "That's where our better qualifying position really helped us. I let the clutch out and it felt great. We ran a 6.59, which was a track record for a brief moment."
For his part, Gray took out Mike Edwards in the first round on a holeshot, giving Gray lane choice on Enders due to his slightly better pass.
"It's a crying shame," Enders said of her second-round run. "It stinks because he had an .078 light and we outran him by .06 seconds. So with the red light, I literally gave that win away."
Enders has now won at least one round in five of the eight NHRA races this season. She returns to action June 1-3 with the Toyota NHRA Supernationals at Old Bridge Township Park in Englishtown, N.J.
"I wanted to just keep driving today to see how far I could get," Enders said of Topeka. "I feel so bad for my guys. They bust their butts for me, and gave me a race car good enough to win. I let everybody down, but we're going to test this week and come back in E-Town and try all over again."