Erica Enders and Matt Smith collected final-round victories from the rain-delayed Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals as racing concluded during qualifying at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.
Pro Stock was halfway through the second round when action was called in St. Louis, and Enders and Jason Line joined already-seeded Greg Anderson and Matt Hartford in the semifinals. Enders drove around Chris McGaha’s perfect .000 reaction time with .015-initiated 6.564 that ran down his 6.608 while Line squeaked past Aaron Stanfield by just .001-second, easing past his holeshot-launched 6.558 with a 6.548.
Enders then defeated Anderson in the semifinals, tattooing the Tree with a .006 reaction and beating him on a 6.575 to 6.570 holeshot. Anderson’s light was a .050. Line joined her in the final with a strong 6.559 to 6.574 conquest of Hartford.
Line and Enders, who were tied with 23 wins apiece in the previous 46 head-to-head matchups, were separated by just two points when they pulled to the starting line where Enders does some of her best work. She left first but by much (.019 to .028), but pulled away for the win and the points lead, 6.572 to 6.588. Enders also now holds a 5-2 advantage over Line in final rounds.
“That was really huge,” Enders said. “I feel like we gave up something big in the second round in Gainesville against Jason, but things work out the way they’re supposed to, and you just have to stay the course. This was a huge move for us. When it’s all on the line and our backs are against the wall, my guys perform every time, and I can’t speak highly enough of them. To win in my home state, it’s just huge. We got it done today, but tomorrow is a new day. This is a big step in the right direction and by no means is it anywhere close to over, but I’m excited to be in the (points) lead.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle had already set its semifinals in St. Louis, so action resumed at the end of the second FallNationals qualifying session.
U.S. Nationals champ Scotty Pollacheck put away Andrew Hines, 6.86 to 6.94, and was joined in the final by his teammate, Gatornationals winner Matt Smith, who similarly did a thorough job of putting Steve Johnson on the trailer, 6.85 to 6.922. Smith’s speed on the run, 200.50, was his second of the day en route to also claiming the FallNationals pole position.
Smith left no doubt in the final, leaving first and racking up his third 200-mph run of the day to defeat Pollacheck, 6.775 to 6.854.
“I tried a little something (in the final) and it worked,” Smith said. “It went fast. It was worth it for me to try something, and things worked out. Hopefully we can be fast again tomorrow. All I can do is my job and hopefully we can turn on win lights. We’ve learned a lot of stuff and to have the quality of bikes we have right now, I think we’re the team to beat.”