Enders finishes runner-up in Pro Stock at Bristol
ZaZa Energy Pro Stock driver Erica Enders had a stellar Sunday at Bristol Dragway, reaching the finals of the NHRA Ford Thunder Valley Nationals and learning she had won the fan vote to earn the last spot in the K&N Horsepower Challenge next week.
Enders fell to 2009 Pro Stock champion Mike Edwards in the final, but that was after Enders, a Houston native, had the better reaction time off the starting line. Enders' Cagnazzi Racing Chevrolet Cobalt shook the tires as she shifted into second gear, giving the win to Edwards.
That came after seven excellent runs down Bristol Dragway, four in qualifying and three during Sunday's eliminations.
"It just wasn't meant to be today, and that's OK," Enders said. "I trust that there are better things in store. And we get to try again in four days."
That's because the NHRA Full Throttle Series races next weekend at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. In addition to the regular Full Throttle points event, Enders will compete in the K&N Challenge, a special race for eight Pro Stock drivers.
The top seven earned their spots based on points standings beginning after the event last year, with the final driver voted in by fans. Enders learned Sunday she was the eighth driver, and even after falling in the final round, Enders spent time paying back fans at her ZaZa Energy hauler.
"It's awesome," Enders said. "I was standing out there with a slightly broken heart, and the fans were just so great. They're telling us how good of a job we've done, that they were rooting for us and how loud the grandstands were. All those things mean the world to me. To be able to cheer me up for that is awesome. It just shows how great they are. I appreciate them so much.
"To be voted in the K&N Challenge is so exciting. It's a huge honor. It means that besides the seven other guys who earned their positions, I was the fan favorite. That's exciting for me. This is a dream come true for me to even be driving one of these cars, and I know I'm a blessed and lucky girl. I'm going to do my best to go and win the race for the fans who voted for me. They get all the credit, because we wouldn't be there without them."
Enders and the Cagnazzi Racing team weathered a five hour rain delay before having their best performance of 2011, advancing past the second round for the first time. She took out Larry Morgan in the first round, and then won on hole shots in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
Ron Krisher had a better elapsed time in the second round, but Enders turned on the win light thanks to a better reaction time, .026 to .045 for Krisher. Then in the semifinals against No. 1 qualifier Allen Johnson, Enders again left first (.014 to .020) and knocked out the local favorite.
In the finals, Enders beat Edwards off the line by .053 seconds, an eternity in Pro Stock.
Despite not getting her first Pro Stock victory, Enders remains upbeat about the remainder of 2011 after clearing the second-round hurdle.
"We've had the capability of doing it from Day 1," Enders said. "The stars didn't line up the way they needed to for us to get past second round. Today, they did. We had a great car this weekend. My ZaZa guys did a tremendous job. I can't say enough about them. They worked their butts off, and they want this thing as bad as I do. We had a consistent car, and consistency pays off. And it will. It did today, and it will further into the season.
"There's nothing to be disappointed about. Is it heartbreaking? Absolutely. These final rounds are very few and far between and we know how important they are when we get there."
Enders doesn't have to wait long to get another chance at a Pro Stock win, racing in the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals, June 24-26.
"I would like to race every week if I could," Enders said. "We tested our guts out the week before, and it's starting to pay off. I'm excited about it. We came here and ran well, and we were consistent. We're learning and doing well together. Thursday, we'll show up in Norwalk and start all over. We've got all the confidence in the world."
-source: cagnazzi racing