Enders Makes Semifinal Appearance at Las Vegas NHRA Nationals

Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders’ semifinal appearance was a small victory for her and her Mopar® Performance Dodge Dart GT. Her showing at the 17th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals might not be nearly as good as a visit to the winner’s circle, but after a rough start to the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, the two-time defending Pro Stock world champion is digging deep for the next round.

After posting her best qualifying performance thus far this season to position herself fifth on the eliminations ladder, Enders finally brought an end to her unusual streak of first round losses. She started the season by posting a stellar .009-second reaction time and running a solid 6.767 at 204.42 miles per hour against Aaron Strong to turn the win lights on for the first time this year.

Enders had another lightning quick .006-second start in the quarterfinals to give her a holeshot win over Drew Skillman with a 6.845 sec/204.70 mph lap to her opponent’s quicker 6.807/204.01 pass, propelling her into the semifinals against Pro Stock points leader, Jason Line. While the two-time defending winner at Las Vegas was disappointed to see her day end with a loss to Line who went on to win the national title, Enders was bolstered by the seeing the continued efforts of her team finally reap some benefits.

“It was really nice to just be able to go rounds,” Enders said. “Winning doesn’t define us. I think you find out what real champions are made of when you have to go through a little bit of adversity and it makes you dig deeper and want it more. We’ve certainly made strides in the right direction with our engine development program. We proved that on the race track during qualifying.”
2016 Gatornationals
Enders’ Elite Motorsports teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. had a much more challenging weekend than he would have preferred, qualifying his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” /JEGS.com Dodge Dart 13th on the ladder with just two full passes. Battling mechanical issues, his day was cut short by a first round loss to Drew Skillman. Despite the setbacks, Coughlin remains optimistic about the development of their new electronic fuel injection era Pro Stock.

In Funny Car action, after Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Jack Beckman earned his third No. 1 Qualifier position of the year to extend the Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car’s consecutive streak of pole positions to four this season, he kicked things off with a 4.081 second pass at 299.53 on a hot track to beat Terry Haddock who hazed the tires right off the start. Beckman’s quarterfinal run against Chad Head didn’t go quite as well after the Mopar driver had to peddle it and didn’t recover quickly enough.

“We have to keep picking away at it,” said Beckman who sits fifth in points. “This car has been finicky on hot tracks. If we raced under cool conditions, I’m not sure anyone could beat us. We’ve been great at getting green hats this year. That’s what you get for being the No. 1 qualifier. We want the yellow hat – that’s the one you get for winning the final round.”

The next race will be the Lowes Foods 7th Annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, the fifth of 24 events on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season schedule, at zMax Dragway near Charlotte, North Carolina on April 22-24. Television coverage of the event will be available on FS1 with the two-hour qualifying on Saturday, April 23 at 10 p.m. (ET) and the three-hour eliminations broadcast scheduled for Sunday, April 24 starting at 4:30 p.m. ET.
2016 Gatornationals

2016 NHRA Championship Points Standings
(Following the Las Vegas NHRA Nationals Race Final) 

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)

  1. Jason Line – 463 (2)
  2. Greg Anderson – 415 (2)
  3. Bo Butner – 331
  4. Drew Skillman – 264
  5. Chris McGaha – 214
  6. Allen Johnson – Dodge Dart – 212
  7. Jeg Coughlin Jr. – Dodge Dart – 191
  8. Vincent Nobile – 175
  9. Erica Enders – Dodge Dart – 171
  10. Alex Laughlin – 152

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)

  1. Robert Hight – 341 (1)
  2. John Force – 294
  3. Ron Capps – (Dodge Charger R/T) – 289 (1)
  4. Del Worsham – 283
  5. Jack Beckman – (Dodge Charger R/T) – 271
  6. Courtney Force – 265
  7. Chad Head – 162
  8. Alexis DeJoria – 119 (1)
  9. Tim Wilkerson – 183
  10. Matt Hagan – (Dodge Charger R/T) – 118
  11. Tommy Johnson Jr. – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 117