Baytown: Erica Enders preview

HOUSTON GIRL RACING AT HOME Erica Enders will tackle Houston Raceway Park as a pro for the first time HOUSTON (APRIL 4, 2005) -- The fans at Houston Raceway Park have seen Erica Enders race more than any other fans. They saw her make her first...

HOUSTON GIRL RACING AT HOME
Erica Enders will tackle Houston Raceway Park as a pro for the first time

HOUSTON (APRIL 4, 2005) -- The fans at Houston Raceway Park have seen Erica Enders race more than any other fans. They saw her make her first attempt at driving when she was just eight years old, sitting in a Jr. Dragster.

Now they get to see her race for the first time in a Pro Stock car. The 21-year-old Houston native will compete in this weekend's O'Reilly Spring NHRA Nationals in Baytown for the first time as a professional driver.

Enders tackled the Jr. Dragster ranks, earning 37 event victories. She also took home six trophies in the sportsman classes. Now she has another goal: Winning in Pro Stock. If she can earn a victory, it will be a first for a female in the category. While there have been four females to drive in Pro Stock before Enders, no female has taken the No. 1 qualifying spot either.

Regardless of the records that could be set during her career, Enders is just happy to be home and in the Cagnazzi Racing Chevy Cavalier.

"It will be neat to be the hometown girl," Enders said. "When Tony (Schumacher, Top Fuel) races at his home track in Chicago, everyone makes it a big deal. All of my friends and family will be out there and they will see me race in Pro Stock for the first time.

"It's exciting because everybody that I care about will be there and I think it will help us perform better because it will put a little added pressure on us. Pressure is a great thing. I know I perform better with more pressure. It drives me to do better."

Enders qualified for the second race of the season (Phoenix) but just missed the cut in Gainesville -- the race leading into the Spring Nationals. But Enders isn't too concerned. The team has had two weeks off and she said everyone has been working day and night to get the Cagnazzi car ready to race.

"I think everyone on the team feels the same way and we are all going to work as hard as we can to make sure we're ready for Houston," Enders said. "It's important to run well there and we have had some great time off between races to get the motors and the car ready to be competitive."

Enders and the rest of the NHRA POWERade Series will have four qualifying attempts (two each Friday and Saturday) before final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Sunday. All the action can be seen on ESPN2 throughout the weekend. Qualifying will air at 7 p.m. (ET) on April 9 before final eliminations can be seen at 7 p.m. (ET) on April 10.

-gs-

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Series NHRA