Phoenix: Erica Enders preview

Erica Enders ready for another challenge PHOENIX -- She's 21 years old. She's a rookie. She has a long career ahead of her. For those reasons and more, Erica Enders is ready for round two of the NHRA POWERade season. Enders didn't qualify...

Erica Enders ready for another challenge

PHOENIX -- She's 21 years old. She's a rookie. She has a long career ahead of her. For those reasons and more, Erica Enders is ready for round two of the NHRA POWERade season.

Enders didn't qualify for the season opener in Pomona, Calif. in her Cagnazzi Racing Chevy Cavalier, but that hasn't changed her attitude about the first professional season of her racing career.

"Not qualifying for Pomona didn't even cross our minds," Enders said of the Cagnazzi Racing team. "We tested so well during the offseason and we know we can get the car in the field. We sent the motors back to the shop in North Carolina and the guys went to work on them. We've heard nothing but great reports about the results and hopefully we'll do better in Phoenix. I think we will. I think we're ready this weekend."

Enders became just the fifth woman in NHRA history to make a Pro Stock qualifying pass. If she can qualify this weekend, Enders will join Lucinda McFarlin and Judy Lilly as the only women in NHRA history to qualify for a 16-car elimination field.

Phoenix might be the perfect location for a run into the history books. Enders has already posted good results at Firebird International Raceway -- the site of the next qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday.

"I won a Jr. Dragster race at Firebird in 1999," Enders said. "It was the last time I raced there but I remember it well because it was an exciting win. My dad also has raced there in Super Comp and Super Gas. I like the track and am looking forward to racing Pro Stock there."

Competing in the CSK Nationals this weekend won't be the first time Enders makes an appearance in Phoenix this year. She spent the week following the Winternationals at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. She completed the school with crew chief Tommy Utt.

"They taught me so much that I can apply to drag racing," Enders said. "The instructors were wonderful because they knew I wasn't going to be road racing any time soon, so they made sure to take all of the lessons and help me apply them to drag racing."

Enders started applying her improved skills the minute she got in her car -- her personal vehicle at home.

"I have a much better feel for the car now," she said. "I could feel the difference driving my own car when I got home from the Bondurant School. I learned about car management including the principles of weight transfer and how your eyes really tell the car where to go.

"The school was great and I was impressed at how much more comfortable I am in the car. I met Bob Bondurant and thought he and the other were great. They all said they were going to come out to the race this weekend, so hopefully I can put my lessons from the school to good use at Firebird."

-gs-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Bondurant