It has been a banner 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season for Erica Enders, who has recorded six final round appearances over the last 11 races. But with only one of those finals showings resulting in a win, the two-time Pro Stock world champion is looking for more heading to this weekend’s 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
The race finishes off the famed three-race NHRA Western Swing, and is also the site of Enders’ second career win in the class. With her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro consistently running at a high level in 2018, Enders knows there is the potential for more victories in the highly-competitive Pro Stock class and she hopes to finish her Western Swing on a good note.
“We’re definitely running better as a whole and I would personally love to stick the car in the winner’s circle in Seattle,” said Enders, who is currently third in Pro Stock points. “It’s very important to keep going and continue to position ourselves better. I feel like we’ve left a ton on the table. In Denver and Sonoma, I’ve done a way better job of driving, so I am ready for a little redemption and I’m ready to get after it. I want to win another championship and I have the best people in the world around me. The sky is the limit for this group.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), and Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and the FOX national broadcast network, including live final eliminations on FOX starting at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. It is the 16th of 24 events during the 2018 NHRA season and only two races follow it before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, where Enders finds herself in a good position.
She was the points leader heading into Denver and teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. picked up his third win of 2018 last weekend in Sonoma, meaning things are going well for Elite Motorsports. But after a red light in a final round and a loss on a holeshot in another, Enders is far from content heading into crunch time of the 2018 season. She was refocused on the starting line to start the Western Swing and that could translate into more victories this season.
“It’s exciting to have been in six finals, but at the same time it’s a little disheartening to only have one win,” said Enders, who has 23 career wins. “But I think the tide will turn. We’re blessed to be in the position we’re in and we have a consistent, good racecar. We’ve got a tremendous team and I’m confident there are a lot of good things to come. Jeg has been an awesome addition to this program and is such a tremendous driver. I’ve learned a lot from him and we work well together.”
Enders will face off against a talented group of Pro Stock drivers in a year that has featured nine different class winners, including Denver winner and points leader Greg Anderson. The list also includes Tanner Gray, Vincent Nobile, Chris McGaha, defending world champ Bo Butner, Matt Hartford and Deric Kramer, but Enders has plenty of good memories heading to Pacific Raceways. The most prominent includes her 2012 win, where she shared the winner’s circle with Courtney Force, marking the first time in NHRA history two females won at the same event.
“It was definitely a really crazy, cool year for me and the start of the next couple years of success,” said Enders, who won world titles in 2014 and 2015. “But it’s a dogfight in this class and it’s just super competitive right now. But everything fits really well for our entire race program and it’s a great environment, and that trickles down from the top (and team owner Richard Freeman).”
Top Fuel’s Brown is still seeking his first win of 2018. The three-time world champion is chasing points leader Steve Torrence, who has five wins this year, and must also deal with the likes of Denver winner Leah Pritchett, Clay Milican, Brittany Force and Tony Schumacher.
Defending Funny Car world champion and event winner Hight heads to Seattle on a good note after winning in Sonoma. After John Force’s win in Denver, John Force Racing will looking for a Western Swing sweep against the likes of Ron Capps, Matt Hagan and J.R. Todd.
The event features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series as well, showcasing the future stars of the sport, as well as the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series.
Those in attendance will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with a few of the most renowned names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This will feature meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals include Pat Austin and more.
As always, fans can 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 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 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.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 3 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 253-639-5927. Tickets also are available online at www.pacificraceways.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.