Two-time Bristol Pro Stock winner Erica Enders looking to keep hot start to 2022 season going
Erica Enders is in the zone right now in NHRA Pro Stock competition and she will lead the class’ return to historic Bristol Dragway this weekend for the first time since 2018.
Enders, a four-time winner this season in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro, has been tough to beat in the early stages of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, and she is the clear favorite in the factory hot rod division for this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, June 17-19.
She has opened the year with wins at Pomona, California; Las Vegas, her hometown race in Houston and also last weekend’s race in New England. She’s a two-time winner at Bristol Dragway and despite an influx of new talent in the Pro Stock category, Enders is proving that experience is better than youth and exuberance so far this year.
Now she is setting her focus on keeping her streak going at Bristol Dragway, where the Pro Stock cars haven’t competed since 2018. She claimed her victories at the Tennessee quarter-mile in back-to-back seasons in 2014 and 2015. She’s ready to get another victory in front of her Bristol fans.
“There’s just something about the East Coast that breeds love for Pro Stock, and it’s nice to see how receptive fans are to the drivers,” Enders said. “You get that friendly atmosphere in Tennessee.
“Bristol is an area of the world that is conditioned to love racing,” Enders continued. “You have the roots of stock car racing and dirt track racing in the area, along with the amount of drag strips. The fan base is built and ready-made, and this weekend’s races are kind of a true come back to Thunder Valley.”
In order to win this weekend, Enders will need to defeat her longtime rival Greg Anderson, the category’s defending world champion. But there is a host of new blood in the division who are cutting their teeth and getting better with every race. Enders knows it’s only a matter of time before the competition goes off the charts.
“The level of competition in Pro Stock right now is absolutely immense,” said Enders, a pioneering racer in the Pro Stock class who has won four world championship titles and became the first female to win a race and a championship in the category.
“I’ve been driving for 18 years,” she continued. “And while competition has always been stout in the factory hot rod class, it is just different this year with (Greg) Anderson and myself being the veterans of the class and, you know, followed by a whole bunch of young guns.
“The impact of young blood is awesome on one hand, and on the other hand, they can definitely hand you a loss. So, it keeps me up on the wheel. It keeps me hungry, it keeps me competitive, and it keeps me wanting to win.”
Others to watch in Pro Stock include former world champ Bo Butner, who will pull double-duty this weekend by also competing in the Super Gas sportsman class. Some of the young guns in the class include New York’s Camrie Caruso, a third-generation racer who battled Enders for the win in a historic all-female final in Houston; last year’s top rookie Dallas Glenn, second generation racers Kyle Koretsky and Aaron Stanfield, veteran Chris McGaha, Troy Coughlin Jr., Matt Hartford and Deric Kramer.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they're granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans will get to see plenty of NHRA stars during the Father’s Day weekend event. In addition to Enders, Anderson and the Pro Stock favorites, fans will get to see eight-time Top Fuel champ and six-time Bristol winner Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, Funny Car kingpin John Force and his Top Fuel driving daughter Brittany, Tony Stewart Racing Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett, Virginia cattle rancher Matt Hagan, five-time Bristol winner and defending Funny Car champ Ron Capps, Bristol Top Fuel dominator Mike Salinas, four-time Top Fuel champ Steve Torrence and Top Fuel rising star Justin Ashley.
In addition to Pro Stock’s return, the 200-mph Pro Stock Motorcycle class is also back this season and defending race winner Angelle Sampey will be looking to add a second Bristol trophy to her collection. Defending series champ Matt Smith, from King, N.C., Suzuki rider Steve Johnson, national record holder Karen Stoffer and Team Harley’s Eddie Krawiec will be among the two-wheelers looking to score a Thunder Valley victory.
The race also will feature action in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the Constant Aviation NHRA Factory Stock Showdown.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA's popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begins Friday, June 17 with the pro session beginning at 7 p.m., which will include the nitro qualifying at night, which starts at 8 p.m. The final two rounds of qualifying are set for Saturday, June 18, at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 19.
Friday’s 90-minute live qualifying show will air on FS1 at 8 p.m. (ET), and be followed by a one-hour Saturday qualifying highlights show at 11 p.m. (ET), also on FS1. Sunday’s three-hour final eliminations show will air at 3 p.m. (ET) on FOX.
Enough with the multi-colored neck ties and fancy pocket protectors, there's still time to purchase tickets and give your Dad an unforgettable Father's Day weekend experience. Weekend packages begin at just $94 while single-day Friday tickets start as low as $30 for adults. Saturday adult tickets start at $47 and Sunday’s tickets start at $37. Kids 12 and under tickets are free each day in grandstand sections A-U with a paid adult.
To purchase your reserved seats, call Bristol Dragway at (423) 989-6900. Tickets also are available online at www.bristoldragway.com. NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals tickets are available by visiting the Bristol Motor Speedway website or by calling the Bristol Motor Speedway ticket office at 866-415-4158.