Erica Enders’ hopes of a third straight NHRA Pro Stock championship took a big hit when she failed to qualify for Sunday’s four rounds of eliminations of the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in suburban Charlotte.
It’s a far different situation than what Enders did in this race last year, when she went all the way to victory lane. Saturday’s DNQ marks the first time she has failed to reach the final eliminations since the 2010 season-ending event at Pomona, California.
“It’s no secret, this year has been a struggle for us,” Enders said in a media release. “Someone just asked me how you bounce back from something like this and I said it’s with the best guys in the world, and that’s what I’ve got with (team owner) Richard Freeman and everyone at Elite Motorsports.
“You look at our crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, Mark Ingersoll, Brian Self, the engine guys Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston, and everyone else in this pit and you just see champions.
“You find out what you’re really made of during the tough times and we’ve had plenty this year, but there’s no quit in this pit and we’ll carry on from here.”
The Carolina Nationals is is the opening race of the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
And while Enders is still in the playoffs despite her DNQ, if she hopes to remain in the playoffs and advance, she finds herself essentially in a must-win situation heading into the second round of the Countdown this coming weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
But Enders remains confident.
“It’s just growing pains,” Enders said. “We’ll get this thing figured out and we’ll be back on top.”
She then added, “Adversity only makes you stronger. We’ll be alright.”