St. Louis victory lifts Enders to third in championship points
MADISON, IL – KLR Group driver Erica Enders got some payback Sunday, and in doing so made a strong move up the Pro Stock points standings.
Enders avenged a defeat to GK Motorsports teammate Dave Connolly in the second round before returning another favor to good friend Allen Johnson in the final to win the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Connolly had beaten Enders in the final of the U.S. Nationals, while Johnson beat Enders in the Dallas final last weekend.
"I really wanted to get that win down in my home state of Texas," Enders said. "Brutus (Johnson) took it away, but I told him today, 'It's our turn.' We've had a really consistent hot rod. It wasn't the fastest one on the property, but it was definitely consistent, and that's what counts on Sunday.
"I'm really proud to race my bud in the final, and I'm more proud to stand in the winner's circle."
Enders won the final on a holeshot, using a .013-second reaction time and a pass of 6.540 seconds at 211.79 mph to beat Johnson's quicker run of 6.538 seconds at 212.13 mph.
"I knew we were a little bit behind performance-wise in the finals, and I needed to step up to the plate," Enders said. "I couldn't let my guys down. So proud of them."
Enders and the GK Motorsports team have won four races in 2012, all in the last 10 events since winning her first career Pro Stock trophy July 1 in Chicago. Over that span, Enders has also raced to two other finals, earned two No. 1 qualifiers and set two track records for elapsed time.
The streak enabled Enders to move to third in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series points standings as the Countdown to the Championship reached its halfway point. With three races remaining, Enders is 17 points out of second place and 126 behind leader Johnson.
Enders, the No. 4 qualifier, went 6.538 seconds at 211.46 mph in the first round to beat No. 13 qualifier Shane Gray, whose lap was 6.588 seconds at 210.05 mph. That matched her against No. 5 qualifier Connolly, who serves with Tommy Utt as one of her crew chiefs.
Enders and her Chevrolet Cobalt were up to the task, as she went 6.532 seconds at 211.73 mph to beat Connolly's pass of 6.566 seconds at 210.83 mph.
"I really owed Dave for the Indy deal," Enders said. "There was a little bit of revenge."
Enders then faced No 1 qualifier Jason Line the semifinals, but as Line slowed to a pass of 11.297 seconds at 79.17 mph, the KLR Group Chevy made another consistent run, this time in 6.531 seconds at 212.33 mph.
Her four runs Sunday were within .007 seconds, with two identical passes of 6.538 seconds.
"It's a total team effort every week," Enders said. "I can't thank my guys enough. I say it week in and week out, but they're the reason why I get to do this. They work hard and spend a lot of time away from home to enable us to be here. They're great. We got down a tricky race track today when there was a Pro Stock pedalfest out there. They get all the credit in the world for this one."
Sunday, Enders was on her game, too, with an average reaction time of .025 seconds. And she proved to be the difference in the final, getting a .006-second advantage on the starting line to win by .004 seconds.
"We are able to bring the car to me," Enders said. "It's not a delay box, because we don't have electronics, but in a sense it's like that with my clutch pedal. My crew chief just brings the car to me, and it depends on who we're running and what lane we have and what leave rpm - a lot of things go in to how we set the car up. They bring it to me. We were trying to hang around .025 to .030 all day. In the final, I was like, 'Give me all you got,' because we were need every ounce of it."