CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 10) - Erica Enders-Stevens is certainly counting her blessings now that Husky Liners has given her an opportunity to return to her Cagnazzi Racing Pro Stock Camaro, but the five-time NHRA winner wants to do more than race: She wants to win the 2013 championship.
With new title sponsorship from Husky Liners, Enders-Stevens will compete in the Countdown to the Championship, which begins with this weekend's sixth annual Carlyle Tools NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
"We're excited and optimistic about the weekend," Enders-Stevens said. "We're so blessed to have Husky Liners on the side of the car."
Enders-Stevens missed six of 18 regular season races because of sponsorship issues but had such a strong season that she still qualified for NHRA's playoffs. She won a race and reached the final at three others during the regular season to earn the No. 9 seed in the Countdown.
"Everyone knows we've got a great team and a great car and really good horsepower," Enders-Stevens said. "I'm looking forward to getting back behind the wheel and giving the guys a run for their money."
Her Cagnazzi Racing team returns with Tommy Utt and Dave Connolly serving as crew chiefs. The Victor Cagnazzi-owned team is based in Mooresville, N.C., not far from zMax Dragway, though the team is still looking for its first win at its home track.
"Starting off the Countdown at our team's home track in Charlotte is going to be important," Enders-Stevens said. "We certainly have a lot of test runs there, and the last time through this spring we runner-upped. We've had a lot of success there, and we'll see if we can finally get it done at zMax. It's the only track left on the tour where Cagnazzi Racing hasn't won.
"To be able to do that this weekend would be awesome, but we're going to take it one day at a time, one run at a time, and see how it goes."
Enders-Stevens was fourth in the Pro Stock standings before her team missed six of the last eight races. In the interim, she drove in two ADRL Pro Mod races for Keith Haney Racing to stay sharp.
"I missed out on a lot of seat time but it's like riding a bike, and I'm hungry and going after it," Enders-Stevens said. "I went from a few days ago thinking we were going to sit out the Countdown, to now where we've got a real shot to chase the championship.
"We're the underdog. I'm in the ninth position and we've got our work cut out for us, but if anybody can do it, we can. My guys are awesome."