Pomona: Erica Enders preview

Enders set to make pro debut this weekend POMONA, Calif. -- When Erica Enders was 8 years old, she started her drag racing career. Now, at 21, she is ready to tackle a new level of competition. Enders will become just the fifth ...

Enders set to make pro debut this weekend

POMONA, Calif. -- When Erica Enders was 8 years old, she started her drag racing career. Now, at 21, she is ready to tackle a new level of competition.

Enders will become just the fifth female in NHRA history to compete in Pro Stock when she makes a qualifying attempt for the Winternationals at Pomona Raceway on Thursday. Only two females (Judy Lilly, Lucinda McFarlin and Shay Nichols) have qualified for final eliminations in a Pro Stock car in a 16-car format. No female has qualified at the top of the ladder or earned a victory in the class.

Not yet, anyway.

Enders earned 37 victories in the Jr. Dragster category before going on to post six wins in Super Comp and one in Super Gas.

Now behind the wheel of the Cagnazzi Racing Chevy Cavalier, she wants to make her way back to winner's circle.

"I'm looking forward to qualifying for my first race in a Pro Stock car," Enders said. "This is the next level of racing and this is the first step in what I hope will be a long career. There are a lot of things I want to accomplish but it all starts with qualifying for the Winternationals."

No female has advanced past the first round. Lucinda qualified in the 15th position for the 1992 event at Memphis and defeated Don Beverley in the first round before losing in the second. Enders has plenty of racing experience and would like to change that fact too.

Enders gained national attention with the Disney Channel movie, Right on Track, which was based on the Jr. Dragster careers of Enders and her younger sister Courtney. Now she wants to make a name as a Pro Stock driver.

"I'm excited for this weekend because this is what I have wanted for a long time," Enders said. "We've been testing the Pro Stock car for a while. It's been a long offseason and while it has all been pretty successful, we're looking forward to the competition and putting the win light on in our lane."

With veteran tuner Tommy Utt leading the crew, Enders has posted performance numbers during testing that matched the current national records held by Greg Anderson (6.62 at 208 mph). With more than 100 test laps under her seatbelts, Enders is more than ready to race.

She also has adapted to the differences between her previous race categories and Pro Stock thanks to the team owner Victor Cagnazzi and the rest of the crew.

"Pro Stock is so much different than anything else I have competed in, especially Super Comp because you have to win four rounds just to be around on Sunday," Enders said. "If we qualify in Pro Stock, we're guaranteed a chance of racing on Sunday.

"This team has come together quickly and I know I couldn't have been paired with a better group of guys. Not only do we all work great together but we get along on a personal level too. I even went fishing with Rich (Saulino) and the guys in North Carolina and we have all become friends. Victor is a great team owner and I'm blessed that I have been given this opportunity to race with this group. We share a lot of similar personal beliefs and values on this team and that makes it even better."

-gs-

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