St. Louis: Erica Enders preview

Enders keying on better lights for better race results ST. LOUIS (May 3) -- As close as the Pro Stock class is each week, third-year Pro Stock driver Erica Enders knows first-hand how elimination rounds are won and lost at the starting line. As...

Enders keying on better lights for better race results

ST. LOUIS (May 3) -- As close as the Pro Stock class is each week, third-year Pro Stock driver Erica Enders knows first-hand how elimination rounds are won and lost at the starting line. As such, the category's most decorated female racer as been working overtime to sharpen her starting line skills.

"I look back over the first few races and see three losses that could have been, or should I say, should have been wins," the 23-year-old Houstonian said. "At the same time, I just won a round over Jason Line by cutting a better light against him, so it does go both ways. I just want it to lean my way a little more often."

Enders' three holeshot losses came by tiny margins. One was just .001 seconds, one was .002 seconds, and the third was .011 seconds. Reaction times are part of the game and can be determined by a variety of reasons. The team has examined them all including reworking the chassis to better fit Enders' style and leaving the starting line at a higher RPM. But Enders shoulders most of the responsibility.

"The driver figures into the equation more than anything else," she said. "Since we started our own team I've been on a pretty large learning curve and I've come to realize you have to compartmentalize the stresses of being a team owner -- paying the bills, looking for sponsors, travel arrangements, taking care of everyone, stuff like that -- with what you do in the racecar. You have to turn all that other stuff off for those few minutes you're in the car. I'm trying hard to get better at that."

Enders' work has been paying off as her reaction time averages are creeping lower. In Monday testing after the Atlanta race, Enders was dead-on, posting start times of .012- and .013-seconds (.000 is perfect.)

"There are times when we face a car that is just flat-out faster than us that particular weekend," crew chief David Nickens said. "We had that situation in Atlanta against Jason in Round 1. I told Erica she needed to get us a few hundredths at the tree and she went out and did exactly that and we won the round. She drove like a superstar this past weekend."

To prove the importance of quick starts, Enders did some quick math.

"If I had won the three rounds I should have won, we'd be fifth in the points instead of 12th," she said. "That's really got me motivated."

Enders will try to cut down the tree once again this weekend at the 11th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis.

-credit: er

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jason Line