BRAINERD, Minn. – Erica Enders won't slow down for anyone, not Greg Anderson, not Jason Line, not even Allen Johnson.
The budding Pro Stock star continued her recent roll, earning her first No. 1 qualifier of the season Saturday by claiming the top spot for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
Enders' best pass was a track-record 6.550 seconds at 210.37 mph in her GK Motorsports Chevrolet, ending Johnson's streak of six consecutive poles.
Other No. 1 qualifiers were Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel, Jack Beckman in Funny Car and Hector Arana Sr. in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
"Being in the top half – especially the No. 1 position – is really exciting," Enders said. "It's something a lot of people haven't done and I've only done four times in my eight-year Pro Stock career, so it's something that doesn't come very often. But it's amazing, and I'm really proud of my GK Motorsports/KLR Group guys. I'm really blessed to be in this position. I love it. I'm having fun. That's what's important to me."
Enders' top lap was in Friday's second session, and no one could go quicker in two more sessions Saturday. Enders was third-fastest in the final session with a pass of 6.592 seconds at 209.65 mph, giving her momentum for a second consecutive Pro Stock victory.
"We just wanted to keep our top spot," Enders said of Saturday's sessions. "It really doesn't matter where you're positioned for Sunday, as long as you're in the top half of the field. But to keep that No. 1 spot for the K&N Challenge points, the extra little boost of confidence is a lot of fun.
"Today was a little different. We made the third-best run of the session that last run. This morning, we just kind of missed the setup a little, but my guys are awesome, and we're all moving in the same direction. We've all got our hearts set on one goal, and we're working well together. Everything is coming together at the right time."
Enders became the first woman to win in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class when she went to victory lane in Chicago on July 1 – beating Anderson – and she backed that up with a win in the series' most recent race, in Seattle, by beating Line in the finals.
"Going into Seattle, I knew it was the best race car I've had all year – actually my entire life," Enders said. "We knew we had the car to do it, and if I was able to do my job on Sunday, there was no reason we couldn't get to the winner's circle. We were able to do that.
"Momentum-wise, I don't think it changed. We're just seeing a little difference in our performance based on what we've been working at back at the shop."
In addition to the pole here and the wins in Chicago and Seattle, Enders set the track elapsed time record in Sonoma. Plus, she's qualified in the top half of the field six races in a row.
"I've said all along I've never once change my mindset going into any event," Enders said. "I don't allow one event to be bigger than any other. I always have the same mindset going in, and that is to be cool, calm, collected, confidence. My guys have been putting a great race car underneath me, and the weight of the world is on my shoulders to be able to drive it to the winner's circle because the power's certainly there."
And that's just how she wants it.
Schumacher likes having that pressure, too, but he has bristled at some of the attention he's gotten this weekend. Driving his U.S. Army dragster equipped with a cockpit canopy for the first time, Schumacher earned the pole with a lap of 3.791 seconds at 323.97 mph.
But apparently some believe the main reason he's going so fast is because of the canopy, and that gets under Schumacher 's skin.
"I think the best part – it's been a Godsend – is we went out and ran the same number both times against my teammate who doesn't have a canopy," Schumacher said. "I'm so sick already of hearing whining people out there saying, 'Oh, my gosh, it's all the canopy.' The car next to me doesn't have it, and we ran the exact same elapsed time, so get over it. If you don't like the way I'm running, put one on your car and run just as fast. It doesn't matter to me. The thing's about keeping people alive, and I'm so sick of hearing people whine."
No one was whining over Beckman's pole, but the veteran Funny Car driver sure was smiling after the fastest pass of his career, 4.018 seconds at 314.61 mph in the Valvoline NextGen Dodge.
"It never did anything but accelerate," Beckman said. "If you look at the G meter on that run, it is way up there and never has a dip in it. This thing was just a beast. It was .875 to 60 foot, which I'm sure that's head of the pack, and it never, ever laid down – 275 mph to half-track."
Arana Sr. put his Lucas Oil Buell atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle chart in the first round of qualifying on Friday with a pass of 6.884 seconds at 192.63 mph, and that lap help up Saturday.
"We were trying to leave the starting line aggressively because we wanted to lower the number to make sure I stayed No. 1," Arana Sr. said. "I'm surprised it stayed, but what we need to do now is stay focused for tomorrow. We need to make clean runs, and we should do well.
"I'm more surprised I didn't beat my time. I thought we could run a little bit better than that. If the 60-foot would've been really great, we were aiming for a high .86."
1. Tony Schumacher, 3.791 seconds, 326.16 mph vs. 16. Terry McMillen, 3.907, 316.97; 2. Antron Brown, 3.791, 323.74 vs. 15. Bob Vandergriff, 3.900, 316.67; 3. Spencer Massey, 3.794, 323.12 vs. 14. Bruce Litton, 3.899, 310.91; 4. Morgan Lucas, 3.800, 322.81 vs. 13. Steve Torrence, 3.896, 308.99; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.808, 321.88 vs. 12. Cory McClenathan, 3.895, 309.20; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.811, 320.97 vs. 11. Keith Murt, 3.889, 301.47; 7. David Grubnic, 3.827, 318.92 vs. 10. Clay Millican, 3.858, 317.94; 8. Brandon Bernstein, 3.833, 317.64 vs. 9. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.854, 309.49. Did Not Qualify: 17. Scott Palmer, 3.923, 310.20; 18. Chris Karamesines, 3.941, 302.89; 19. Dom Lagana, 3.952, 311.77; 20. Tim Cullinan, 3.959, 305.01; 21. Luigi Novelli, 3.997, 284.93.
1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.018, 314.61 vs. 16. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 4.201, 292.84; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.049, 307.16 vs. 15. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.132, 308.21; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.051, 311.85 vs. 14. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.131, 304.25; 4. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.055, 316.75 vs. 13. Jim Head, Toyota Solara, 4.119, 306.19; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.062, 311.92 vs. 12. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.100, 310.41; 6. John Force, Mustang, 4.067, 311.85 vs. 11. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.090, 308.92; 7. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.072, 313.15 vs. 10. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.090, 310.98; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.087, 304.94 vs. 9. Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.089, 305.15. Did Not Qualify: 17. Bob Bode, 4.233, 297.61; 18. Todd Lesenko, 5.267, 285.95.
1. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.550, 210.50 vs. 16. Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.645, 207.82; 2. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.560, 210.87 vs. 15. Chris McGaha, Avenger, 6.637, 208.20; 3. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.573, 210.41 vs. 14. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.633, 208.55; 4. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.576, 209.56 vs. 13. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.630, 208.65; 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.582, 210.54 vs. 12. Mark Martino, GXP, 6.602, 209.56; 6. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.583, 209.43 vs. 11. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.601, 209.20; 7. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.584, 209.75 vs. 10. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.597, 209.79; 8. Ronnie Humphrey, GXP, 6.585, 209.30 vs. 9. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.590, 209.07. Did Not Qualify: 17. Kurt Johnson, 6.652, 207.88; 18. Mark Hogan, 6.791, 205.07.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.884, 192.82 vs. 16. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.213, 190.65; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.887, 193.96 vs. 15. Chip Ellis, Buell, 7.144, 189.18; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.894, 193.13 vs. 14. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.029, 190.59; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.909, 192.85 vs. 13. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.018, 191.76; 5. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.918, 192.30 vs. 12. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.981, 192.25; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.948, 192.08 vs. 11. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.976, 190.30; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.952, 189.90 vs. 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.968, 192.08; 8. John Hall, Buell, 6.964, 190.86 vs. 9. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.966, 190.03. Did Not Qualify: 17. Buddy Robinson, 7.470, 177.14.