BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 16) – No team has worked harder than Erica Enders' KLR Group Chevrolet crew this weekend at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. That hard work could pay off in Enders' first career Pro Stock victory.
Enders qualified No. 11 for Sunday's race, getting in the field in a "Hail Mary" run in the final qualifying session. That run came after changing an engine between Q3 and the last session and after getting bumped out of the field just before making her Q4 run.
"We've definitely busted out butts this weekend, with changing motors and everything else," Enders said. "Every other aspect of the race car has been taken out, re-done, from front to back. We've worked them to death this weekend.
"We all man up and do what we've got to do when need to do. That's what's awesome about my team. They never say a word about and just get it done."
Enders made a conservative pass of 6.696 seconds at 206.23 mph to get in the field. She was No. 16 after Q3 as the team struggled to get a handle on the recalcitrant Bristol track Friday. Enders then was temporarily knocked out of the field in Q4 before crew chiefs Dave Connolly and Tommy Utt made the right calls to get the GK Motorsports Chevy back in.
"Going into the last session in the heat, being the first pair out after a fresh scrape on the race track, we were very conservative," Enders said. "We wanted to go A to B. We needed to get in the show; we were on the bump. That was our plan going up there. We knew we'd be slow, but we were going to get down. That's all that matters.
"It was a big sigh of relief. We all wear confident faces out there, but I was about ready to throw up."
But after a trying weekend, good times could be ahead.
"Ever since I started when I was 8 years old, the weekends where you break everything and just suck pond water are the weekends where you go rounds on Sunday," Enders said. "We'll see what happens."
Enders faces No. 6 qualifier Rodger Brogdon in Sunday's first round. Brogdon's best pass was 6.678 seconds at 204.60 mph.
"It stinks that we're starting from the bottom half of the field, but in the same sense, with our conservative run that session, we run the No. 6 car, which is usually where we like to qualify, the way the ladder falls," Enders said. "If I can take out Rodger in the morning, it would the same as qualifying in the six hole. One step at a time. Hopefully, it's a long day tomorrow."