INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 29)
KLR Group driver Erica Enders rolls into the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway as the hottest driver in the sport, fresh off back-to-back victories in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class.
Enders, who moved up to fifth in the points standings after her victory at Brainerd, has also won three of the last six events.
"There is no better time to be hot than right now," Enders said.
"I'm excited that it's Indy, too. It's the biggest race of the year. I'm hopeful that we can make it three in a row."
Enders has long dreamed of winning a national event in one of NHRA's professional categories, but now that she's accomplished that goal, she's not done.
Her sights are set even higher as the Countdown to the Championship looms after Indy.
"I'm excited about the recent success, but at the same time, I've got the championship in mind," Enders said "We've just got to keep pressing forward, working hard and doing our best every week."
Enders' best has been good enough to join Allen Johnson as the only drivers to win consecutive races this season.
And who did Enders beat in the finals to win the last two races? Johnson.
Enders will be joined at Indy this weekend by GK Motorsports teammate Dave Connolly, who will drive the IDG Chevrolet, and by fiancé Richie Stevens, who is entered in a Dodge for Johnson.
"It's really exciting that my best friend and my fiancé both get to drive this weekend," Enders said. "Dave and I are working together as teammates for the Countdown. But when it comes to Monday, each man for himself. I say game on. They better pack a lunch.
"I'm glad they both have the opportunity to be behind the wheel again. They're two extremely talented drivers. But business is business."
That's the way Enders approaches every race, and Indy will be no different. The U.S. Nationals may be the biggest race of the year, but when Enders flips the visor on her helmet down in qualifying and eliminations, the only thing on her mind is doing her job.
"I do appreciate that it's not just another race, but I'm not changing my mindset," Enders said. "I'm not going to put more pressure on this particular event. That's not how I've done it before and not how I do it now."
Enders has raced at Indianapolis several times, dating back to 1994 when she was a 10 year old racing a Junior Dragster. Plus, she reached the semifinals in Super Comp in her rookie season of 2000 when she was 16, out of 174 cars entered.
"That was really cool," Enders said. "And I runnered-up my first year there in 1994 at the Jr. Dragster Nationals. I've been racing there for almost 20 years.
"I grew up with my dad racing, so I knew what a big deal Indy was. I was always excited to have the opportunity to race on that track. To get to do it at the age of 10 was pretty sweet. I've been going there for a long time. We've never won there. We've gotten second a few times and third a few times. We've got to get it done."