NHRA U.S. Nationals: Erica Enders goes from Grand Marshal to Pro Stock winner in Indy

(Photo courtesy NHRA)

BROWNSBURG, Indiana – Defending NHRA Pro Stock series champ Erica Enders may have made sports history on Monday.

Enders may be the only athlete ever to serve as Grand Marshal of an event – and then went out and won the whole thing.

After attending to her Grand Marshal duties before Monday’s final eliminations, Enders went out and beat rookie and Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Spillman to earn her first career win in the NHRA’s biggest race of the year, the 61st Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.

“They normally have retired people (as Grand Marshals),” Enders laughed. “They called me a couple weeks and asked me to be the Grand Marshal. I thought they were joking.

“But it’s a huge honor. I’m a Chevy girl through-and-through, I’m very proud to drive a Camaro and proud to win their banner race. I have to pinch myself to believe we’re doing what we’re doing.”

MORE — NHRA: Final results, updated standings after U.S. Nationals

This was Enders’ series-leading sixth win of the season and 18th of her career, but there are none more important or meaningful to Enders than Monday’s accomplishment.

And as a bonus, Enders is now tied with legendary and three-time Top Fuel champion Shirley Muldowney for second place on the NHRA’s all-time wins list for female drivers.

“This goes right up there with the championship (she won) last year,” she said. “Obviously, that’s every driver and every team’s goal, and to win the ‘Big Go’ (the nickname of the U.S. Nationals) is just incredible.

“This is something I’ve dreamed about and worked for my entire life. I made my first pass in this race in a Junior Dragster when I was nine years old in 1994.

“I have a lot of great memories. I went to the finals that year (but lost when she red-lighted). I went to the finals in 2012 in Pro Stock. It just seemed to elude us for so long, but it makes it worth it to be able to do it with the right people, and that’s exactly what I have with Elite Motorsports.”

Enders goes into Pro Stock’s portion of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff now as the No. 1 seed.

“I want to be the best driver, we are the best team and we’re at the top of the list,” Enders said.

NOTES: Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie defeated pole-sitter Chip Ellis to win Pro Stock Motorcycle.

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change