With weather plagued and shortened qualifying sessions for the 2011 NHRA season opener, one could say that Mother Nature actually might have shown who her favorite was during Pro Stock qualifying for the 51st annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals.
Erica Enders in the Cagnazzi powered Chevy Cobalt
NHRA Pro Stock Driver Erica Enders
New Orleans based Erica Enders, who has been a crowd favorite throughout her pro career, returned to her Pro Stock roots for 2011 by rejoining forces with Cagnazzi Racing, a team she has worked on and off with since debuting in the class in 2005.
During the opening session of Pro Stock qualifying one Friday, Enders and her Cagnazzi powered Chevy Cobalt laid down her career best ET and MPH when she posted a 6.553 at 211.69, placing her team at the top and setting the pace for the rest of the field.
That would be the only session of Pro Stock qualifying on Friday with the second scheduled sessions scrapped due to persistent weather delays.
Saturday's plan was to get two more professional sessions in the books, but this time it wasn't just rain that delayed the on track activities, it was a down-pouring of hail during the midmorning hours. With the tight curfew at the Pomona facility, Pro Stock competitors were only afforded one more hit.
During the one and only session on Saturday, Enders dodged a bullet after 2010 K&N Horsepower Challenge Champion Greg Anderson came very close to knocking her off the pole with his 6.556 pass.
Not only is qualifying position important for race day ladder placement and championship points, but even more crucial for the NHRA Pro Stock drivers as they vie for a shot at the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge.
An elite field of eight Pro Stock teams, comprised of the top seven Pro Stock qualifiers and the eighth position filled by fan vote, compete for the biggest single payday in all of Pro Stock and the $50,000 Championship bonus awarded to the winner when the showdown takes place in June.
Enders, whose last number one national event qualifier came in 2006, is seeking to make it into the K&N Horsepower Challenge for the second time. She nearly made it in the number eight fan voted position for the 2010 shootout, but was edged out by "The Professor" Warren Johnson.
With only eight events between now and the final event in Bristol for teams to earn K&N Challenge points, for Enders to make her way into the top seven, it will take a whole lot of top if not number one qualifying.
Nonetheless, Enders showed that "ladies are first", grabbing the first Pro Stock pole of the infant season and if nothing else, give a good shake to the standings in the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge.
The K&N Horsepower Challenge is not just for the Pro Stock competitors as it also includes a shot at one of eight trips to the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge event with the K&N Horsepower Sweepstakes. The grand prize winner will drive away in a 2011 Ford Explorer XLT! For complete sweepstakes rules and information plus online entry form, visit today!
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