Let’s face facts — the NHRA’s Pro Stock division is one of the most predictable in all of drag racing. I don’t mean predictable in the sense that you can consistently be sure who is going to win, but rather, the race cars are so refined that betting on anything occurring other than a straight-and-true pass or shake-and-abort is a terrible wager. And so that’s why Sunday’s Pro Stock finale at the Bristol Dragway got us up out of our seats.
If you didn’t catch the finale on FOX, then this one will be a fresh treat for ‘ya.
For the second race in a row, points leader Erica Enders met her Elite Motorsports horsepower-mate Aaron Stanfield in the final stanza. Two of the best in the business, the pair were separated by just .001-seconds out of the gate, but Stanfield rattled the tires right at the hit and appeared to be out of the running as Enders catapulted ahead. A split-second later, however, she encountered what may have been one of the most severe mechanical malfunctions in the history of Pro Stock…her Camaro billowing smoke from under the engine bay and filling the cockpit. Enders, not to be deterred, kept her foot planted into an engine that was clearly having none of it to try getting to the stripe first by any means possible.
Stanfield, cognizant of what was happening in the other lane, got back in the throttle and caught Enders by the 1,000-foot marker, charging to victory in a paltry 8.03-seconds at 184.98 mph. Enders, wounded car and all, coasted across the stripe to a Super-Comp-like 8.80-seconds at just 103 mph. Amazingly, despite all the smoke no doubt hindering her view, Enders kept her car straight, got the parachutes out, and stopped safely.
“I cut it loose, and it shook at the top of low gear, so I stopped. Then, I could see smoke out of her car and Big Al [Lindsey, crewman] was on the radio telling me to go, go go,” Stanfield said. “I stuck it back in gear and tried to get there. It for sure did not go according to plan. Sometimes it goes like that.”