Team Enders working hard on summertime set-up ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 19) -- Veteran crew chief David Nickens of Houston was reminded of a very harsh lesson in the first race of the summer -- professional qualifying for a POWERade Drag Racing ...
Team Enders working hard on summertime set-up
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 19) -- Veteran crew chief David Nickens of Houston was reminded of a very harsh lesson in the first race of the summer -- professional qualifying for a POWERade Drag Racing Series national event can oftentimes come down to one do-or-die session.
NHRA traditionally schedules just one nighttime qualifying session during a race weekend, and when you tune a carbureted Pro Stock car that is sensitive to weather conditions and temperature changes, that round under the lights is usually the one where a driver needs to post the pass that will put them into Sunday's starting line up.
"The numbers speak for themselves," said Nickens, a former world champion with more than 30 years of drag racing experience. "Take the last race in Chicago, which is really the first race where we had much hotter temperatures when the sun was out. Only three drivers made runs in the other three qualifying sessions that would have been good enough to make the field. Everyone else got in on Friday night. That says it all."
Unfortunately for Nickens and his driver, popular female professional Erica Enders, they didn't make a representative run in Round 2, and ultimately failed to make the cut-off for Sunday's racing action.
"We got behind in Round 1 when we broke the transmission and couldn't make a run," Nickens said. "That made us the first car up in the evening session and we went up there with virtually no data. The car shook the tires and the run was lost and that pretty much ruined the weekend right there.
"You only get four passes at a race so you can't afford to give any of them up, which is what we've been doing. And now that it's hot, you have to make darn sure you are 100-percent prepared for that Friday night run. I don't like it, none of us in Pro Stock do, but it's a reality and it's what we're going to be dealing with for the rest of the summer."
Nickens and Enders hope a new Jerry Haas racecar, built specifically to Enders' specifications, will help them find the consistency they need to be prepared.
"The car's showing promise in testing and Erica is definitely driving it better because she feels right in there," Nickens said. "For some reason we have a lot of downforce at the top end with this car and that's cutting into our E.T.'s a little bit but we're working on that.
"We have the people, the driver, the horsepower, and the car to qualify and win rounds out here. We just need to get our stuff together and start showing everyone else that we're capable of doing this week-in and week-out. Hopefully, it starts this weekend."
Enders begins the first of six races in six weekends starting Friday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in New Jersey, the site of the 38th annual ProCare Rx NHRA SuperNationals presented by R2B2 Motors.