NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Championships on horizon for Gaige Herrera, Erica Enders in Pomona

Erica Enders is on the verge of a sixth NHRA Pro Stock world championship, and Gaige Herrera is just inches away from his first in Pro Stock Motorcycle entering this weekend's In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals.
09 Nov 2023
Posted by NHRA.com staff

As the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series comes to a close at this weekend’s 58th annual In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle championships have a chance to be decided before eliminations at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.
Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Gaige Herrera has been nearly perfect in the class this season with 10 wins and 13 No. 1 qualifiers to his credit on his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. He has led the points all but one event of the 2023 season.

To claim his first NHRA championship, Herrera must make a qualifying attempt at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip. With his 181-point lead over his teammate Eddie Krawiec, Herrera can clinch his first career world championship during qualifying.
“It doesn’t feel real. Like I told Andrew [Hines, crew chief], I haven’t even woken up from the beginning of the season,” Herrera laughed. “I think it started to sink in leading up to Vegas. I posted a year ago that I was looking for sponsors, to basically make it out there. I didn’t plan to do more than Indy, Reading, and St. Louis last year, and I was able to find some funding to come out West, so that was a big deal.
“It’s hard to believe me being out here and getting a ride with Vance & Hines. I can’t thank Andrew and Eddie enough for seeing what they did for me and putting faith in me that I could ride the motorcycle to their standards.”
Herrera’s championship will give the Vance & Hines racing team its 14th championship. Herrera joins the likes of Krawiec, a four-time champion, and brothers Andrew Hines, a six-time title holder, and Matt Hines, with three championships, under the Vance & Hines umbrella.
“It really is unbelievable,” Herrera said. “Terry [Vance] and I were talking, and he said, 'Just don’t change, just keep being yourself and have fun with it.' It’s awesome working with all of them: Terry, Byron [Hines], Andrew, and Eddie. It’s like a family. Everyone says it’s all business, but at the end of the day, they’re almost like big brothers to me.”

In the Pro Stock ranks, Enders is on the verge of her sixth NHRA title in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance Chevrolet Camaro, holding a 114-point lead over longtime rival Greg Anderson. To clinch her championship in qualifying, she needs to gain seven more points in qualifying than Anderson, who also has five titles. If Enders is able to gain that advantage in qualifying, she’ll secure the title on Saturday for Elite Motorsports. If not, she’ll need to win first round on Sunday to clinch her fourth world championship in five seasons.
“They asked me about having one hand on the trophy, and I definitely don’t feel like it’s ours,” Enders said. “We have to go out there and continue to earn it. If they asked me that 12 races ago, I’d told them they were nuts if they said we were going to contend for our sixth championship this year because we were absolutely horrible.”
Early this season, Enders suffered three first-round losses but has rebounded in the second half of the year in a major way and especially in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. She has four wins on the season, including back-to-back wins in the playoffs in Dallas and Las Vegas. Already the winningest female in NHRA history, if she is able to clinch the title, she’ll tie Warren Johnson for second most championships in the category at six, behind Bob Glidden at 10.
“Pomona is points-and-a-half and a lot can happen, and a lot can change,” Enders said. “I just try to put that out of my mind. I know that sounds silly and cliché, but I just try to focus on what’s right in front of me. I don’t want to get the bigger picture in my mind too far ahead, but at the same time, I believe that we can do it and we’re capable.”

Austin Prock (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Anderson (Pro Stock), and Angie Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won last year’s event, while Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Enders (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) claimed world championships. The race will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.

NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at noon and 3 p.m. PT on Friday, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday at noon and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. PT on Sunday. Television coverage begins with qualifying action on FS1 at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, leading into eliminations at 4 p.m.
To purchase tickets to the 58th annual In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, fans can visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. All children 12 and under will be admitted free in the general-admission area with a paid adult.