GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 11) – A wave of upsets in the first round of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville swept GK Motorsports driver Erica Enders out of the Pro Stock field Sunday.
The No. 1, 2 and 6 qualifiers all lost in the first round, as did No. 7 qualifier Enders. The 28-year-old driver was eliminated when she left a tick too soon in her matchup against Chris McGaha.
“There was a lot more on the line than people know,” Enders said. “I felt good, and when I let the clutch out, I felt clean. I thought, ‘This guy is going home.’ As I put my eyes high to shift, I saw his win light on. I felt like it was a good light, a clean hit, and it ended up being on the wrong side by three-thousandths.”
Enders ran a competitive pass of 6.537 seconds at 210.80 mph – the third-best run of the round. McGaha, the part-time competitor who was the No. 10 qualifier, made a pass of 6.571 seconds at 209.33 mph.
“It sucks to throw away a really good race car, especially on a day when all the heavy hitters are out first round,” Enders said. “When it’s your day, you can’t screw up. Today wasn’t my day, so on to the next one.”
Despite the minor setback, Enders is encouraged by the performance of her Cagnazzi Racing Chevrolet, as the team made gains this weekend, inching closer toward the top of the Pro Stock field. Enders was fast and consistent in Gainesville, qualifying in the top half of the field and making five good passes on the weekend.
“The performance is back,” Enders said. “We’re consistently good going down the race track. That first win will happen soon.”