By Lee Elder
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 20, 2018) – Erica Enders put herself solidly in the field of two distinctly different racing categories Friday during the opening day of qualifying for the NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway.
The two-time Pro Stock champion qualified 13th in the field of that class and 14th in the 27-car E-3 Pro Mod Series field. The two racing applications have very little in common but it appears that Enders will make the show in both cars.
“I’m excited about it,” Enders said of the double effort. “I love to race and I don’t really care what I’m driving. I’ll drive anything if I feel like we can be competitive. I’m especially happy to be back home (in the Houston area).”
The Royal Purple venue was resurfaced between seasons and the professional teams of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series had to adjust to the track’s new racing surface. Some adjusted better than others. Greg Anderson topped the field in Pro Stock qualifying, establishing a new track record for elapsed time (6.492 seconds) and speed (213.00 mph). Matt Hagan was the top qualifier in Funny Car and Brittany Force had the provisional pole, and a track record, in Top Fuel. But some of the cars in the nitro categories struggled to make complete passes, especially during the late session.
Saturday’s second day of qualifying could be impacted by weather, adding emphasis to the need to find speed Friday.
Enders qualified in Pro Mod with a 5.866-second, 240.81 mph run. She was clocked at 6.548 seconds and 210.67 mph in her Pro Stock car, good for 13th in the field. Both cars are Chevrolets and both are out of the Elite Motorsports garage. Both categories have two qualifying sessions slated for Saturday.
Hagan’s 3.913-second pass in the second qualifying session edged Robert Hight’s first-session run in Funny Car, putting Hagan temporarily at the top of the list. Hagan’s speed was just 308.78 mph, so there might be more speed in the offing if Saturday’s sessions get in.
Force finished Friday with the provisional top spot in Top Fuel with a run of 3.701 seconds and 313.80 mph. The elapsed time set a track record.
NOTES: There were 17 Top Fuel cars on the track Friday and 18 in Funny Car. Pro Stock has a full 16-car field … John Gaydosh put a decal on his Pro Stock car to get attention for Pathfinders for Autism. Gaydosh said his nephew, Kolton, is autistic … Funny Car team owner Jim Head switched Jonnie Lindberg’s entry to a Mustang body for the weekend at Royal Purple … Elite Pro Stock teammates Enders and Jeg Coughlin used cars they had not previously used in competition Friday … Nitro car star Del Worsham was quoted as saying that he and his team would not race again until the NHRA makes its western swing this summer … Defending Top Fuel champion Brittany Force used her third new car of the season Friday. She said she had not even tested the car before arriving in Texas.