Erica Enders makes history in Joliet

Erica Enders made NHRA history Sunday at Route 66 Raceway by becoming the first woman to reach the finals in Pro Stock Car eliminations during the Ameriquest Mortgage Nationals in Joliet. Just two weeks earlier in Reading, PA, Enders became only...

Erica Enders made NHRA history Sunday at Route 66 Raceway by becoming the first woman to reach the finals in Pro Stock Car eliminations during the Ameriquest Mortgage Nationals in Joliet. Just two weeks earlier in Reading, PA, Enders became only the second woman in history to win an elimination round by winning her first ever pro match-up.

Enders considers herself an equal with the guys once the helmet goes on though. "It's a big deal for the fans and the media, but I don't really think about the girl factor. This team has really come together and we have great chemistry. We're only going to get better."

Enders challenged Jason Line in the finals after beating Ron Krisher, Mike Edwards and Warren Johnson. Line took out Greg Stanfield, Kurt Johnson and Dave Connolly to reach the final round. Both Connolly and W. Johnson got red lights for fouling on the start line in the semi-finals. That red light trend continued into the final round as Enders fouled out handing the victory to Line.

Rushed after swapping out engines and repairing a crank trigger, Enders team rolled her under the tunnel with no time to spare. "It's possible with a few more seconds I could've settled myself a little," she admitted.

Winning his fourth event of 2005, Line was relieved to reach his first final round since Englishtown in June. "This weekend we didn't beat ourselves," Line said. He continued, "I like coming here. I'm comfortable here. And my family was here so that was cool."

A Chicago victory continues to elude Pro Stock points leader Greg Anderson who lost to W. Johnson in the second round on a holeshot. Although Anderson doesn't have an official lock on the championship, his lead appears insurmountable with only three races remaining on the schedule.

Tony Schumacher put his name in the NHRA record books as well with a new national low elapsed time record of 4.437 seconds set during his qualifying session Friday night. In a rematch of 2004's Top Fuel finals at this same event, Schumacher faced Doug Herbert in the final round. Herbert beat him to the line last year.

But history did not repeat itself when Herbert smoked the tires early on allowing Schumacher to speed down the track at 328.94 MPH in 4.535 seconds for the win. "I remember the final round last year. I was not going to be late off the line today," Schumacher declared. "Winning at your home town, there's nothing above that."

Schumacher took down Bobby Lagana Jr., Morgan Lucas and Brandon Bernstein on his road to the win. Herbert defeated John Smith, Clay Millican and Scott Kalitta to reach the finals.

Fighting an intense Top Fuel championship points battle, Schumacher padded his lead by more than 100 points over Larry Dixon and Doug Kalitta who both lost in the first round. Schumacher shared, "I got up this morning and I was nervous and my fingers were tingling. You just don't know what's going to happen. Now we're here with a trophy."

Tony Pedregon made his way to his second consecutive final round in Funny Car after beating Tony Bartone, Eric Medlen and Gary Scelzi. There Pedregon met Ron Capps who won challenging matchups with Robert Hight, Cruz Pedregon and John Force. Pedregon couldn't make it two event wins in a row though, smoking the tires off the start line. Capps drove to the finish line in 4.760 seconds at 327.82 MPH to get the win light.

Having struggled the last two races, Capps said "I knew we could prove ourselves if we got out here. We are in this deal."

Capps made up ground in the race for the Funny Car championship moving from fifth to third in the standings. "It's the best thing for the fans giving them a race to the finish. It's all I think about." Scelzi retained the points lead going into next week's race by 43 points.

NHRA POWERade teams will pack up and make the trip to Ennis, TX for the rescheduled O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex October 6-9.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Clay Millican , Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , Bobby Lagana Jr. , Cruz Pedregon , Scott Kalitta , Greg Stanfield , Brandon Bernstein , Morgan Lucas , Jason Line , Eric Medlen , Robert Hight , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards