Heading into this summer, Erica Enders was still without a win in her eighth season of professional NHRA drag racing. The Pro Stock driver along with her team including crew chief Dave Connolly and owner/engine builder Victor Cagnazzi had shown signs they could win. But up until seven weeks ago, Enders and team had nothing to show for it. Times, they are a changin'.
In Chicago, Enders made history, becoming the first female driver to win a Pro Stock event. Then a couple weeks ago in Seattle, she won and when combined with a victory by rookie Courtney Force in Funny Car, it marked the first time two women had won at the same meet in two professional classes (see related articles). But Enders wasn't done.
She backed that win up with another victory at Brainerd, Minnesota, giving the lady that hadn't won in eight long years, three wins inside of two months (source - USA Today). With the win, she moved into fifth in the point standings and also qualified for the playoffs (Countdown). Enders is the first female to win a pro class at Brainerd since Shirley Muldowney did it 30 years ago.
And she did it dominating at all phases. First, they qualified number one (her first of the year), knocking off the Dodge of Allen Johnson who had six number ones in-a-row. Then during eliminations, she had an almost impossible .001 reaction time in the first round and then came back with a lightning quick .012 in the quarterfinals. This was against two-time and defending Pro Stock champion Jason Line, who she had to drive around with his quicker reaction time of .007.
In the semis, Enders had a problem with her launch but the car was fast enough to catch veteran driver Larry Morgan by less than two-hundredths of a second. For the final, she was matched up against Johnson who has dominated the class of late. Enders had another .012 reaction versus Johnson's very good .022 but he had tire shake, while her Cagnazzi powered Chevrolet Cobalt hit the lights with yet another strong run.
In the other pro categories, Morgan Lucas won Top Fuel, defeating points leader Antron Brown. Ron Capps beat John Force to solidify his spot atop the Funny Car standings. And in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Eddie Krawiec once again was victorious with his Harley, beating Hector Arana Jr. who red-lit.
But Erica Enders is the story right now in drag racing and there doesn't seem to be anything that can stop her.
Greg Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock champion, may have put it best when he said (to ESPN) of her first win, beating Anderson in the final back at Chicago: "I'm in the history book now for the wrong reason. But the bottom line is this has been a long time coming for Erica. You knew she was going to win soon. I didn't want to be the guy on the other end, but I am now and it's probably going to open the floodgates for her."
Anderson was prophetic, I would say.
Sources - NHRA, Cagnazzi Racing
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.