What's more important? A log-book full of historical success, or coming off the high of a recent race win?
The correct answer to nearly every question can be, "It depends." People need a foundation to build success from, and when you're a racer looking for a win, you'll find that platform wherever you can—especially if you've had it before. While past performance is no guarantee of future results, nearly every racer (and indeed every journalist that writes about motorsports) will leverage the past to justify why future success is assured.
Erica Enders won the New England Nationals in 2017, was runner up in 2018 (with a red-light to Chris McGaha), but hadn't stepped off a clutch in New Hampshire in nearly three years. So what's important to her?
"I always talk about our previous success at particular tracks because for us, that's the pattern we've established." —Erica Enders
"I always talk about our previous success at particular tracks because for us, that's the pattern we've established. And [New England Dragway] just so happens to be one of them. We haven't raced here for a very long time. But 2017 [Epping] was my first win after the 2015 Championship," said Enders, describing the race where she defeated Tanner Gray.
In 2018 when Enders returned to New England and worked her way to the finals against McGaha. Enders had a red-light in the final and handed McGaha the Walley.
"Unfortunately, we didn't come here in '19 or '20," said Enders. So mentally, Enders chooses to make the time jump back to the 2017 and 2018 events and focus on the data and success her team had.
Is that more important than her round two loss to Matt Hartford in Houston?
Enders says, "Yes."
It seems she could be right. In round one of qualifying on Friday night, that past success helped Enders secure three qualifying positions (behind Mason McGaha and Aaron Stanfield, but ahead of Hartford) with a 6.548. She cut three-thousandths of a second from her time in round two of qualifying with a 6.548. Come Sunday, will she repeat her 2017 success?
Well, "it depends." On what we will all have to wait to see.