The two-time Pro Stock champion has one Indy win, but a recent strong performance heading to the Big Go has Enders thinking big in 2019
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – August 29, 2019 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – Erica Enders’ favorite Indy memory happened in 2015 and it’s a moment she will never forget. It marked her first win at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, coming in the midst of her impressive back-to-back championship run in Pro Stock. Coming off a final round appearance at the most recent NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Enders will try for her second win at the Big Go during this weekend’s 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
It’s been an up-and-down year in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, but Enders and her team could be coming together at the perfect time. Getting another win in Indy on drag racing’s biggest stage would only add to that heading into the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, and Enders only has to look back to 2015 to know how much an Indy win means.
“I remember everything about that weekend,” Enders said. “It’s one of the races that will stand out most to me. As a kid growing up, and as a fan and spectator before I ever became a racer, it was the most prestigious race in NHRA drag racing and it still is that way. To add my name to the list who have win in Indy is pretty significant for me. After going to the finals at Brainerd, we’re ready to get back to the track and hopefully turn on one more win light.”
Terry McMillen (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of a race that will be shown on the FOX national broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including a live broadcast of eliminations on both FOX and FS1 on Monday, Sept. 2. It is the 12th of 18 races during the 2019 Pro Stock season, and the final race of the regular season also comes with an increased amount of points via the points-and-a-half system. For Enders, she views it as a chance to gain major momentum before the playoffs.
Looking for her first win of 2019, Enders, who has two final round appearances this year, is currently seventh in points. But a jump into the top five isn’t out of the question with a strong showing at the biggest race of the year, and Enders insists there’s no let-up in her team after putting together their best showing of the season in Brainerd.
“Every point matters and I need to have a really great showing,” said Enders, who has 23 career Pro Stock wins. “This team has remained determined and persevered a lot, and hopefully that will allow us to peak at the right time. We made eight good runs in a row in Brainerd and hopefully that’s a good indication of what’s to come. You have to have all your ducks in a row at Indy, but obviously our goal is to win the race and position ourselves the best we can.”
It certainly won’t be easy, as Enders will have to contend against 20 other Pro Stock competitors in Indy, including points leader Bo Butner, Greg Anderson, who has six Indy wins, Brainerd winner Jason Line, and Elite Motorsports teammates Jeg Coughlin Jr., Alex Laughlin and Matt Hartford. Enders also knows Indy is a grueling battle, but those moments often bring out the best in her.
“I love these moments,” Enders said. “I like the added pressure and I like when there’s a lot on the line. My team is the same way. You have to treat this race as a marathon, and not a sprint. It’s definitely grueling, but we’re ready to battle it out.”
In Top Fuel, Terry McMillen claimed the biggest victory in his career a year ago, and he’ll try to do it again against the likes of points leader and defending champ Steve Torrence, three-time world champ Antron Brown, Doug Kalitta, Brittany Force, Leah Pritchett and Clay Millican.
Funny Car’s Todd will look for a third straight win at Indy as he prepares to defend his world title. Standing in his way are stars like points leader Robert Hight, John Force, who recently earned his 150th win, Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr., Bob Tasca III and Shawn Langdon.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, points leader Andrew Hines has two Indy wins and is in the midst of a dominating year with seven wins in nine races. He will look to enter the playoffs on a strong note against Eddie Krawiec, defending world champ Matt Smith, Hector Arana Jr. and Karen Stoffer.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by J&A Service will also look to become winners of the prestigious event. It is the ninth of 12 events during the 2019 Pro Mod season, and points leader Stevie “Fast” Jackson is the defending event winner. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for ultimate bragging rights and bonus purse during the popular Dodge HEMI Challenge as well. Fans can check out special pit areas for Copo Camaros and the HEMI Shootout.
Racing in the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series will also take place in Indy, as well as the popular SAMTech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown category, which will include a special 32-car field at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend a number of different NHRA schools throughout the weekend, including Nitro School, to learn how the cars and motorcycles operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Factory Stock School will take place on Friday, while Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle Schools follow on Saturday. Pro Mod School and Nitro School will both take place on Sunday, giving fans an incredible behind-the-scenes learning experience throughout the weekend.
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis will also host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers. Another can’t-miss experience is the winner’s circle celebration on Monday after racing concludes. NHRA fans can congratulate the winners as they celebrate their Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victories.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30. Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 2.
FOX national broadcast and FS1 will televise coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, starting with qualifying on Sunday, Sept. 1 on FS1 at 2 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST. The broadcasts continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage of eliminations on Monday, Sept. 2 starting at 11 a.m. EST, continuing live on FOX at 1 p.m. EST.
Tickets for the world’s most prestigious drag race can be purchased by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA (6472), or online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, and E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association