Erica Enders plans to build two shelves. One for all the Wallys she will collect this season en route to a third Pro Stock championship. Revenge, in her mind, is a dish best served to anyone who gets in her way.
“It was a tough year for me both personally and professionally, and I’m looking to get some revenge,” she said, stopping short of naming the 19-year-old no longer in the room.
Tanner Gray isn’t defending his Pro Stock championship, but Enders isn’t the only frustrated veteran who feels she let opportunities slip through her gloves in 2018. The two-time Pro Stock champion posted the second-best reaction-time average and had the best car she has had for years, but it wasn’t enough to climb out of the No. 3 spot.
“Well, we let a little kid come in and walk all over us,” she says with a laugh. “Last year was not my year, so I don’t really know what to say about that, but in my head, I’m not going to let opportunities slip by this year. I’m going to be up on the wheel every time this year like it matters, because it does.”
It’s hard to imagine Enders can get better at leaving on her opponents, but if she can … well, good luck keeping up with (editorializing ahead) the best pure talent in Pro Stock. She boasts all the confidence in the world and is back in a brand-new Rick Jones-built Chevy Camaro. She finished the season in a Jerry Haas-built piece, causing some anxiety.
“The whole story we all went through last year with changing cars to racing a chassis that our crew chief didn’t build, I think it really speaks volumes of the character of the people on my team, especially Rick and Rickie Jones,” said Enders. “They got through the year and learned about the chassis they needed to build.”
The early returns (Enders holds the pole with a 6.528) are good. It also puts the dice (or wheel, I guess) in Enders’ hands for seemingly the first time since she won back-to-back titles. So much has depended on Enders to save races that it has been tough to know what to expect from the red Chevy Camaro the past two seasons. This year … it feels different because the RJ car looks legitimately great, and we already know Enders can whoop everyone in the class on any given race day. She knows it, too.
“In my mind, I’m going to be better than them,” she said when asked if she’s worried about the chips on other’s shoulders. “That’s not being cocky, that’s just confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, you should just stay in the trailer. That’s my mindset this year. I don’t care, bring it on.”
It always comes back to early 2000’s sports movies with Enders. As the champ says: Bring it on.