Following yesterday’s harrowing fire in her Elite Pro Mod car, no one would have blamed Erica Enders if she’d decided to take Sunday off, but that’s not in her nature and the two-time world champ was on the starting line for her round one battle against teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. A storybook ending would have had Enders claiming her first win of the year, but tire shake ended her day early and Coughlin celebrated his birthday with a 6.609.
Bo Butner qualified in the bottom half of the field, but that didn’t stop the points leader from continuing his hot start to the season. Butner ran his record to 18-2 in elimination rounds with a win against Fernando Cuadra Jr. Butner left first and used a 6.608 to cover the rookie’s competitive 6.612.
Summit-backed driver Greg Anderson admitted that the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals means everything to his team and that he thrives on the pressure of competing in his sponsor’s event. Anderson and Summit teammate Jason Line both advanced with Line making one of the best runs of the round with a 6.597 in his win against Val Smeland.
Alex Laughlin and Chris McGaha also dipped into the 6.5s with runs of 6.581 and 6.587, respectively. Laughlin easily handled Rodger Brogdon, who had a mechanical issue with his RB Machine Camaro but McGaha’s win against Wally Stroupe wasn’t nearly as easy. Stroupe banked nearly a tenth off the starting line and was in the lead for a long time before McGaha finally tripped the win light by a scant .007-second. McGaha admitted that his team has struggled so far this weekend and that they’d broken two engines during qualifying. Regardless, he’s earned lane choice for his round two race against Anderson.
Matt Hartford also punched his ticket to the second round by beating Kenny Delco, 6.612 to 6.643. Despite the loss, Delco had to be somewhat relieved after struggling through most of qualifying with his Camaro, which uses an engine from Chris McGaha.
Round two pairings (lane choice first): Deric Kramer vs. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; Bo Butner vs. Matt Hartford; Chris McGaha vs. Greg Anderson; Alex Laughlin vs. Jason Line