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Enders out in North Carolina

by Bill Cawthon on

For the first time since the 2010 Auto Club finals, two-time World Champion Erica Enders failed to make the field for a NHRA National event. This time, it was the opening round of the 2016 Mello Yello NHRA Countdown to the Championship.


Enders, who is the defending Pro Stock champion, saw her hopes of a three-peat dim as engine problems prevented her Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart from making a decent pass at the Carolina Nationals in Concord, North Carolina.

After making the field in the first round, Enders’ crew switched engines and the new mill apparently had a gremlin in the fuel injector. She failed to qualify in the second round on Friday and couldn’t make a decent run on Saturday.

Her teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr., was able to qualify in all four rounds and will meet up with Allen Johnson in a Dart-Dart matchup in the opening round. Coughlin qualified in the No. 11 spot while Johnson, who has been running the top Dodge all season, landed in the No. 6 spot.

Alan Prusiensky and the Dodge will meet up with Greg Anderson in the opener.

In Top Fuel action, Tony Schumacher and the U.S. Army dragster qualified third. He will face Cameron Ferre in Round One. Leah Pritchett took the No. 9 spot and will compete against Richie Crampton.

Tommy Johnson Jr. was at the bottom of the Funny Car order after the first round of qualifying on Friday. In the opening matchup of Round Two, he found some magic and rocketed to the top of the order and set a track ET record that stuck through the remaining qualifying sessions. His first race on Sunday will be against Bob Gilbertson.

Ron Capps, the points leader, qualified No. 2 and will be paired with John Hale in the Oberto Charger. Jack Beckman, who got the No. 5 position, has a tough opening opponent in Del Worsham, who sewed up the 2015 Funny Car championship with a string of wins in the Countdown.

Matt Hagan, ninth in the order, will race against No. 8 Courtney Force when Funny Car eliminations kick off Sunday.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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