Erica Enders didn’t need another championship to cement her credentials as one of the best drivers in the history of the Pro Stock class, but after clinching her sixth Camping World title on Saturday at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Raceway, she’s joined a very exclusive club.
In Pro Stock, only Bob Glidden (10) and Warren Johnson (6) have won six titles and when one considers the rest of the NHRA pro classes, the list doesn’t get much longer as it includes just John Force (16), Tony Schumacher (8), Kenny Bernstein (6), Dave Schultz (6), Andrew Hines (6), and Matt Smith (6).
Capping off what was easily the biggest comeback of her career, Enders came to Pomona with a 114 point lead over longtime rival Greg Anderson and she officially wrapped up the title following her round one win over her Elite teammate, Fernando Cuadra Sr. After qualifying in the No. 3 spot, Enders drove to a 6.502 to officially seal the title.
“On the heels of a career-best season last year, anything is going to be challenging,” said Enders. “It took us seven races to figure out our issue and I owe my guys all my credit in the world. The message this year is tenacity and consistency, and digging through all of it prevailing when it matters. I have to thank my guys for that. Richard Freeman is a tremendous leader that gave us all such a great opportunity starting at Elite Motorsports in 2014.
"The two boys on my car are new to drag racing, and I have Conner and Declan and I’m really proud of them - to give them their first championship at Elite Motorsports. For Chase Freeman, Jake Harrison, Anthony Lum, Tim Freeman, and all the guys in the crew chief lounge, I don’t want to miss anybody. I give them the credit. It’s through God I can do all things, but it takes a team of people that are here, I couldn’t do it without them. As a little girl in a junior dragster, this was my dream, and I’ve not only been able to accomplish it once, but we’ve been able to accomplish it six times. It’s against the world, and today us won.”
The numbers aside, 2023 has not been what one would consider a typical season for Enders and her Elite Motorsports team. After a rough start that included rare round one losses in Gainesville, Phoenix, and Charlotte, Enders was mired in 14th place when the tour headed to Route 66 Raceway May. At that point, her chances for a sixth title appeared gloomy at best, yet she never gave up hope.
The tide began to turn in Bristol when Enders qualified No. 1 and then went to the final round where she defeated Deric Kramer. From that point forward, she steadily began to climb in the standings. With another win in Topeka, and a few other late round finishes, Enders was able to enter the Countdown as the No. 3 seed and at that point the Elite team appeared to flip a switch as the dominant version of Enders reappeared.
During first five races of the Countdown, Enders went 14-3 in elimination rounds and claimed back-to-back wins in Dallas and Las Vegas to all-but put the championship out of reach. Enders qualified her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Camaro in the No. 1 spot in Reading, Charlotte, and St. Louis, and she was able to take care of the rest with solid driving and a break or two along the way.
A sixth championship wasn’t the only history Enders made during the 2023 season as she also became the sport’s winningest female racer with her 47th career win. Enders tied Angelle Sampey with her Topeka victory and then passed the three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion when she won the Texas NHRA FallNationals in Dallas.
The Dallas win was key to Enders championship run as she made the quickest run of the season in the final with a 6.467 to stop championship rival Dallas Glenn. That victory raised Enders’ win record to 30-13 on the season and provided a bit of breathing room on the road to her sixth championship.