Local favorite Erica Enders ready to make NHRA Pro Stock history at Houston’s Royal Purple Raceway
BAYTOWN, Texas – Erica Enders is easily the most successful woman to compete in Pro Stock in NHRA history, but even with all of her accomplishments there is still one thing left to do and that is to become the first female to win an event in the popular factory hot rod class. The driver of the GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt has led qualifying fields, won rounds, set national records, posted a top 10 points finish and even made it to the final round, six times at that, but she has not been able to seal the deal and earn that elusive Wally trophy.
She hopes to change that statistic at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, April 27-29 at Royal Purple Raceway. Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Jeff Arend (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, which will be televised on ESPN2HD.
“I’m ready to get this monkey off my back,” Enders said. “I think we’ve figured out as many ways possible that there are to lose so we’re ready to win. I’m ready to just get this first win over with so we can put it in the books and go on and hopefully win a lot more races.”
Enders earned her first final round appearance of the 2012 season at the last event in Charlotte, N.C., but fell to Greg Anderson in the final-round for the third time in her career. Even after the loss, she is feeling positive and couldn’t think of a better place to earn her first career victory than at her Houston-based home track.
“I feel really good about coming off our final round in Charlotte,” Enders said. “I’m really excited and optimistic about my team and car heading to Houston. I won my first events in Junior Dragster, Super Comp and Super Gas all at Houston, so winning there in Pro Stock would just top it off. We have lots of family and friends who are coming out, my sponsor and his company will be coming out as well, so it’ll be a full blown crazy weekend and hopefully we can finish the weekend off with a win.”
Enders has confidence in her car and her team every NHRA race weekend across the country, but the 28-year-old Houston-native has a special place in her heart for Royal Purple Raceway and knows that winning there would be the highlight of her 20-year racing career.
The odds for earning a first-career victory at Royal Purple Raceway are definitely in Enders’ favor. As many as eight current Full Throttle Series drivers have earned their first-career wins at the super-quick Houston dragstrip, including Nobile last season, Cruz Pedregon, Matt Hagan, Mike Edwards, Robert Hight, Karen Stoffer, Michael Phillips, and Jeg Coughlin. Enders would love to add her name to that list.
“Winning in Houston would just be a storybook deal,” Enders said. “If I could write my story I would write it that way. I want to win every race, but if I got to choose where I’d win my first Pro Stock race, Houston would definitely be it. It’s a track I’ve been racing at for 20 years, it would just be fabulous.”
Anderson leads the points standings in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class followed closely by his Summit Racing teammate Jason Line. Edwards sits third, followed by Allen Johnson, Nobile and Enders; Greg Stanfield, Roger Brogdon, Ronnie Humphrey and Coughlin round out the top 10.
In Top Fuel, Texas-native Spencer Massey is coming off a two-race win streak and currently leads the championship point standings while seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher sits second, his DSR teammate Antron Brown is third, Morgan Lucas is fourth, Shawn Langdon sits fifth, Doug Kalitta is sixth, Texas-native Steve Torrance, Bob Vandergriff, Clay Millican and Brandon Bernstein complete the top 10 in Top Fuel.
John Force Racing driver Hight, who is riding a four-race win streak heading into Houston, has dominated Funny Car all season long and leads the championship point standings in the 7,000-horsepower class. His JFR teammate Mike Neff is behind him in second place while Jack Beckman, Johnny Gray and John Force round out the top five. Rookie Courtney Force is in ninth and defending world champion Hagan is currently outside of the top 10 after a DNQ at the last event in Charlotte.