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Enders strong heading into NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com
Saturday, Sep. 08, 2012

There’s no hotter driver on the National Hot Rod Association’s Full Throttle series than Erica Enders.

Entering this weekend’s rain-postponed Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Enders had won three of six events in the NHRA’s Pro Stock car division.

And not only are Enders’ victories coming at an opportune time – the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship begins next weekend at Concord’s zMax Dragway – but they’re also historically significant.

When Enders, 29, won at Chicago on July 1, she became the first woman to win in Pro Stock history. A few weeks later, she did it again – joining Funny Car driver Courtney Force that day as the first pair of women to win at the same NHRA event.. Then, two weeks later, Enders won for a third time at Brainerd, Minn.

“It all seems to be coming together at the right time,” Enders said. “I don’t think there’s any one answer for it. The guys back at the shop are working really hard to find more horsepower, and they keep finding it. We’ve got a really good hot rod now.”

It’s almost becoming habit. Enders had the top time entering Saturday night’s qualifying at Indianapolis (which was postponed from last weekend by rain), with the finals – and a potential fourth victory – coming Sunday.

A native of Houston, Enders has been a trailblazer in a sport that has long embraced diversity. She was the first woman to qualify No. 1 in a Pro Stock event in 2006, and was runner-up that season at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. She’s even had a Disney movie, titled “Right On Track,” made about her.

Enders is fifth in the Pro Stock car standings, trailing Allen Johnson, Jason Line, Greg Anderson and Mike Edwards. She hopes any momentum she’s got going over the past two months translates into Countdown success.

“I’m taking the highs as they come,” Enders said. “I know how short-lived they can be. Right now, it’s just a bunch of hard work paying off.”

Enders and several other Pro Stock drivers have their eyes on next week’s event at Concord. They tested for two days at zMax earlier this week before returning to Indianapolis for this weekend’s races.

“We’re getting all the data we can,” she said. “That first race in the countdown is important.”

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14

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