Story By:NHRA – INDIANAPOLIS, IN – A year ago at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Erica Enders enjoyed one of the biggest moments in her storied Pro Stock career.
After a crushing loss in the final round of drag racing’s biggest race in 2019, Enders more than redeemed herself, rolling to the win at the Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals en route to her second straight world championship and fourth in her career.
It was a triumphant moment for Enders and her Elite Motorsports team, and she would love to repeat the feat at this weekend’s 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals. Racing on drag racing’s grandest stage has often brought out the best in the popular Enders, who has two wins at the Big Go. She’ll look for a third win in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, knowing full well what back-to-back victories at Indy would mean heading into the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
“In drag racing, we often get to redeem ourselves at the next race the following weekend, but you only get one shot at Indy a year,” Enders said. “It’s a big deal and we take it very seriously. It would be absolutely incredible to go back-to-back and bring home the U.S. Nationals Wally in 2021. We have all hands on this weekend, with five cars total (for Elite Motorsports). Every employee we have is on the property so you can bet Team Elite will be out in full force. My team is the best in the world and my money is always on us.”
With action across several classes, special events like the Dodge HEMI Challenge and the JEGS Allstars bonus event for sportsman racers, the prestigious Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals promises to deliver something special. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Enders (Pro Stock) and Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of an event that will be televised on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and FOX, including final eliminations on Sunday, Sept. 5. It is the final race of the regular season, meaning Enders wants to put her best foot forward with a chance to race for a third straight world title.
She’s turned in a solid season, winning twice and sitting third in points behind teammate Aaron Stanfield and leader Greg Anderson, and has a chance to enter the playoffs in second. But her immediate focus is performing well on the huge stage at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, where Enders will also have to take on the likes of rookie standout Dallas Glenn, Matt Hartford, Kyle Koretsky, Troy Coughlin Jr., Chris and Mason McGaha, and Deric Kramer.
“The U.S. Nationals will always be the most prestigious accolade to put on my resume,” Enders said. “I’ve been racing at this track since the inaugural Junior Drag Racing League Nationals in 1994 and every time I roll under that arch, it hits the same. When I was a kid racing, I dreamed of being on the list of U.S. Nationals champions and I’m blessed to have two of them so far in my career.”
The race certainly meant a great deal to Pollacheck a year ago in Pro Stock Motorcycle. The veteran qualified No. 1 and picked up his first career victory in the class. Doing so at the biggest race of the year made it that much sweeter for Pollacheck, who added another win this year in Atlanta and currently sits third in points heading back to Indy.
He certainly has plenty of momentum and good feelings returning to the Big Go, and it’s a victory Pollacheck will never forget. But to get a second straight win, Pollacheck will need another outstanding performance on his Denso/Strutmasters/MSR EBR. His teammate, Matt Smith, has been dominant in 2021 with four wins and six final round appearances, and Pollacheck will also have to deal with the likes of Andrew Hines, Eddie Krawiec, Sonoma winner Karen Stoffer, Steve Johnson, Ryan Oehler, Angie Smith and Joey Gladstone.
“We are super stoked to come back to Indy,” Pollacheck said. “What an incredible weekend it was last year. To finally get that first big win and have it come at Indy, everything about that weekend was amazing. We qualified No. 1, got into the (Denso) 200 mph club and were a runner-up in the Pro Bike Battle. I love that place. The only downer was (Pollacheck’s wife) Susan wasn’t there. She’ll be there this year and so is everyone else from the team last year. Now, we just need to try and repeat.”
Top Fuel’s Shawn Langdon is after his second straight win at the U.S. Nationals following his victory a year ago, which would give him plenty of playoff momentum. Looking to stop him will be a number of marquee talents, including three-time reigning world champ and points leader Steve Torrence, Antron Brown, Brittany Force, Leah Pruett, Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican, Justin Ashley and Mike Salinas.
Funny Car defending world champ Matt Hagan took the points lead in Brainerd and will try to keep rolling in Indy against a loaded field. To take the points lead into the playoffs he’ll have to race past John Force, Bob Tasca III, J.R. Todd and Ron Capps, who have all led the points in 2021, as well as Cruz Pedregon, Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson and Blake Alexander.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by J&A Service will also look to become winners of the prestigious event. It is the seventh event of the 2021 Pro Mod season and two-time defending world champ Stevie “Fast” Jackson is the defending winner of the event. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for ultimate bragging rights and bonus purse during the popular Dodge HEMI Challenge as well.
Racing in the NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series will also take place in Indy, along the popular Constant Aviation NHRA Factory Stock Showdown category. The Big Go also represents a huge weekend for sportsman racers for the second straight year, as the event features the popular JEGS Allstars bonus event. This pits the best NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series racers from across the country in individual and team competition, creating one of the most anticipated and unique weekends in sportsman racing.
The action doesn’t stop there, either. After nitro qualifying on both Friday and Saturday, fans can enjoy the entertaining “Walking Tall” P.T. Cruiser Wheelstander drive by “NitroMike,” while the weekend also includes a special display and exhibition passes from the popular ScottRods AA/Gassers and Nostalgia Pro Stock Association. The cars in each class will make a number of runs during the weekend and will also be displayed on the midway.
As always, fans are granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans a chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 3 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 1:00 and 4:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 5.
Television coverage includes qualifying action from 7-9 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 3 on FS1 and from 9-11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5. Eliminations will be broadcast live from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on FS1 on Sunday, Sept. 5, moving to FOX from 1-4 p.m.