ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 23) – If being able to bounce back from adversity is the sign of a championship team, then KLR Group driver Erica Enders and her GK Motorsports team will be in the thick of the Pro Stock title chase the rest of the Countdown to the Championship.
Enders, who fell in the first round of the first Countdown race when sketchy track conditions doomed her chances, responded with a final-round appearance in the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex.
She also solidified her spot in the top four of the Pro Stock standings, moving out of a fifth-place tie with Mike Edwards and gaining on second-place Jason Line and third-place Vincent Nobile.
“I told you we were going to be OK,” said Enders, a native of Houston. “Of course, we would’ve loved to have had that win, especially here at home, but it’s big picture. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We made up some ground that we gave up last week.
“That’s what my team’s good at, putting their heads down and plowing through all the bad stuff. I’d like to think I’m good at it, too, and it was nice to bounce back.”
Enders’ chances at her fourth victory of the season were thwarted when the engine in her Chevrolet Cobalt bogged off the starting line with an electrical issue in the final against Allen Johnson. Enders left first with a .034-second reaction time, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Johnson’s winning pass of 6.598 seconds at 210.93 mph. Enders ran 6.835 seconds at 209.39 mph.
“I let the clutch out, and the car just died,” Enders said. “Then it took back off again. It just bogged and shut off and then came back on and took off again. By the time I was in third gear, I saw Allen go by. I ran it to the finish line hoping he would dead-head or something would happen over there that would allow us to win. But these things happen.
“A million and one things have to go right with any race car to turn the win light on. They’re machines, and they fail. But we’re going to be OK.”
Enders is 144 points out of the lead, which is about seven rounds of competition. Four races remain in the 2012 season, and she’s 51 behind Line and 22 behind Nobile.
“I have faith that everything’s going to be just fine,” Enders said. “We’ve got a really good car. That’s never gone away. We’ll just figure out what happened, what broke in the final here, fix it and move on to St. Louis.”
Enders’ day started with a victory over Chris McGaha, as Enders went 6.577 seconds at 210.47 mph to beat his 6.637-second pass at 207.59 mph. She then took out four-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. with a run of 6.601 seconds at 209.72 mph, compared to Coughlin’s pass of 6.640 seconds at 209.39 mph.
That set up a semifinal against upset-minded Richard Freeman, but Enders left first and outran Freeman with a run of 6.623 seconds at 210.18 mph. Freeman shook the tires and ran 9.118 seconds at 103.47 mph.
That put her in her sixth final of the season, a career-best for the 28-year-old driver. Plus, she’s been to five finals in the last nine races.
“It was a good weekend,” Enders said. “They got the hardest working crew award, and the certainly deserve it because it was a hot, long weekend.”