READING, Pa. (Oct. 3) - After winning at Gateway Motorsports Park last weekend, Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens said the Pro Stock field would have to take the championship away from her and her Cagnazzi Racing team.
Enders-Stevens moved up to fourth in the Countdown to the Championship standings with the victory - her second of the season - as she clearly has the title in her sights heading into the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.
"That's the attitude we need to have," Enders-Stevens said. "If we don't have that attitude, then we shouldn't be out there. You have to believe in what you're doing."
Enders-Stevens has blossomed in the six-race Countdown, rising from ninth place in the points with a victory, a semifinal appearance, and a No. 1 qualifier in the first three races.
She is 60 points out of first place, a deficit that can be made up in one race because 20 points are awarded for each round victory. But there are also qualifying points given for the three quickest drivers in each of four qualifying sessions, making every pass vital.
"Every round is important, but qualifying is also important," Enders-Stevens said. "We were able to gain five baby points from qualifying last weekend, and all of those little points add up. It's not just round by round."
Enders-Stevens knows continuing to move forward in the points standings won't be easy, given the stiff competition in the Pro Stock class.
"Reading is going to be tough," Enders-Stevens said. "There are 10 great cars out here in Pro Stock week in and week out, and you just fight for those few top spots."
Maple Grove is one of the fastest tracks on the NHRA tour, even with warmer-than-usual weather predicted for this weekend.
"The lanes are pretty even in Reading, so lane choice isn't an issue," Enders-Stevens said. "It should be interesting. Weather looks great as far as temperatures go. It's going to be really fast."
Qualifying for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals gets under way at 1:15 p.m. EDT from Maple Grove Raceway and resumes at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday. Eliminations start at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN News will air the qualifying show at 11:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday and ESPN2 will broadcast the eliminations show at 8 p.m. on Sunday.