NHRA Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens is used to being the first in her category to do something, including being the first woman to win a Pro Stock event and the first woman to lead the Pro Stock points standings. Now she has another first on her mind – becoming the first woman to lead a category into the post-season.
“I'm very hopeful to go out there and just have a really great weekend and get our No. 1 spot back from Jason Line to go into that No. 1 seed into the Countdown into Charlotte,” said Enders-Stevens in a recent NHRA teleconference. “I don't believe any woman in a professional category has ever gone in in the No. 1 position so far. It's certainly at the top of our list of goals, but it's not detrimental if it doesn't happen, by any means. We'll just have to start out swinging in Charlotte as hard as we can and go from there and remain positive and continue to have fun as a team. And, like I said before, I'm very optimistic of what we'll be able to accomplish.”
Enders-Stevens led the Pro Stock standings from Las Vegas in March until last weekend, when an early-round exit by Enders-Stevens gave the top spot to Jason Line. It was her first first-round exit of the season, coming off of skipping two races in the Western Swing.
“We immediately found our problem. It was a parts failure, and we threw it in the trash and we're heading to St. Louis early next week to test prior to the U.S. Nationals,” said Enders-Stevens. “So everything will be fine and back to normal. It's just one of those fluke deals that happens occasionally. We've been fortunate enough to not encounter things like that very much this season. So I guess every once in a while it's everybody's turn to go through that. And it just so happened at Brainerd it was our turn.”
“It was unfortunate,” she continued. “It certainly wasn't the comeback we were hoping for after taking those two races off in Sonoma and Seattle to get our engine program up to speed as we're bringing on two team cars starting in Indy in addition to our team driven by my husband, Richie Stevens and Shane Tucker is returning from Australia as well. So just one of those deals. But we figured the problem out and we'll be ready to go in Indy.”
This week, the NHRA heads to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis for the “Big Go,” the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, a race and track where Enders-Stevens feels she has some unfinished business.
“As a kid, I grew up watching all of these people that I looked up to, Shirley Muldowney and Bob Glidden and the ones after them, and it's just been one of those races and one of those facilities that's so awesome and holds so much history,” said Enders-Stevens. “NHRA held the first Junior Drag Racing League National Championship there in 1994. I was part of that. We run it off at that race in the eight and nine year old category and just holds a lot of really special memories there for me. In 2001 we got down to three cars out of 174 in Super Comp. And then in 2012 we were runner-up in Pro Stock as well. So I feel like I've got a lot of unfinished business there and I'm hopeful we can get it done this year. But just an awesome facility and it gives you goosebumps when you walk in the gate there. It's one of those deals that's hard to explain unless you've been there and experienced it yourself.”
The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals feature five qualifying sessions for the Mello Yello Series, the first one taking place Friday, August 29th at 6 p.m. ET. The second and third sessions take place Saturday, August 30th at 2:30 and 6 p.m. ET, with the final two qualifying sessions on Sunday, August 31st at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET. Final eliminations take place Monday, September 1st beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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