CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 15) - Erica Enders-Stevens and her Husky Liners Pro Stock team made some gains at the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sunday at zMax Dragway.
Enders-Stevens moved up one spot in the Pro Stock points standings to eighth with a semifinal finish in the first race of the Countdown to the Championship, and she also gained ground on several drivers still in front of her in the points.
"We've always got to look at the positives," Enders-Stevens said. "At this moment we're the underdog, and we've got some fighting to do to get this car up to the performance level of the rest of the pack. Being back in the car and getting seat time is only going to make it better, and I know that."
Sunday's performance was truly a team effort, as Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team were both on top of their game. She overpowered one opponent and then won another round on a holeshot.
"Today was a good start to the Countdown," Enders-Stevens said. "A semifinal finish is nothing to be ashamed of. There are a lot of guys who would have traded spots with us today."
Enders-Stevens moved within 10 points of seventh place and is 109 points - a little more than five rounds - behind leader Mike Edwards.
"I'm glad to have made up some ground on a couple of the guys ahead of me," Enders-Stevens said. "The good news is in three days we go to Dallas. We'll get another shot at it and we'll keep fighting."
Enders-Stevens kicked off her return to full-time Pro Stock competition with a win over Rodger Brogdon. Her pass was 6.578 seconds at 210.28 mph to defeat Brogdon's 6.626 at 208.71 mph.
That matched her up against defending Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson, and though her good friend was quicker, Enders-Stevens scored the victory. The difference was her .029-second reaction time that gave her a .031-second advantage. That was enough to overcome Johnson's pass of 6.567 seconds at 211.16 mph, which was slightly quicker than her run of 6.586 seconds at 209.36 mph.
"That was nice," Enders-Stevens said. "I came back and had a meeting with Dave (Connolly, her crew chief alongside Tommy Utt) and went over some things with the car. I'm always up on the wheel, but that was an important round for our team. I love Brutus (Johnson) and he's my best friend out here, but when the helmets go on, I'm ready to rip his throat out. That's the mindset I took, and he left the door open for us.
"She then faced No. 1 qualifier Jason Line, who led the whole race with a run of 6.579 seconds at 210.73 mph, beating Enders-Stevens' 6.597 at 210.05 mph.Next up for Enders-Stevens and the Husky Liners team is the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals next weekend in Dallas.
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