POMONA, CA – The 2023 NHRA Finals at Pomona will be remembered fondly by the Elite Motorsports team fielded by Richard Freeman who is based in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Team stable member Erica Enders became a six-time Pro Stock champion while her teammate, Aaron Stanfield, made the day much sweeter by winning the race itself over KB Titan’s Matt Hartford in the final.
Leaving Las Vegas two weeks ago with a victory over previous Pro Stock champion, Greg Anderson, Enders was well on her way to winning her sixth Pro Stock championship in her illustrious career. Entering Pomona, she had a 114-point lead over Anderson, who still had a slight chance at the title but needed significant help, especially with a race that paid 30 points per round victory. The help would take place during the four rounds of qualifying, which pays bonus points to the No. 1 qualifier after each round.
Following the first two rounds on Friday, Anderson picked up six additional points and Enders received four. Going into Saturday, she would have needed to score seven more points than Anderson to clinch the title. Unfortunately, she would have to wait until Sunday to see if she could win the title with Anderson securing the No. 1 spot and her being in the No. 3 spot.
She had a first-round match against teammate Fernando Cuadra Sr, while Anderson squared off over Mason McGaha. While he was victorious in the first-round, it wasn’t enough for him to secure the title as Enders won over Cuadra Sr after he clicked off early. The time of 6.502 seconds at 210.80 mph was good enough to earn her a sixth Pro Stock championship.
“I’ve got to give God all the glory,” said Enders. “He took a mess and turned it into a message. The message this year is tenacity and consistency, and digging through all of it to prevail when it matters. This championship hits differently because of the fashion in which we got it done. Rallying is what we do. It makes me so proud to be associated with such a great team. They have a never-quit attitude and that’s why they’re world champions. I’m lucky to be their driver.”
During the Countdown, she had three consecutive No. 1 qualifiers and wins at Dallas and Las Vegas to help her build up a great point lead heading into Pomona.
“Things started to change direction in St. Louis,” said Enders. “After we won Dallas, I thought maybe we could actually pull this off. It’s just a perfect lesson about why you never quit, and why you never give up. All the chips can be down and you can still come out on top. I’ve got to thank my sponsors – JHG, Melling Performance, SCAG Power Equipment, Gallagher, High Performance Lubricants, CHE, Peoplease, Stockseth Racing, CTech Manufacturing, Mac Tools, Comp Cams, TMS Titanium. I give them the credit. It’s through God that I can do all things but it takes a team of people. I couldn’t do it without them.”
As for the rest of the day, she fell to eventual runner-up Matt Hartford in the semi-finals after recording another round win over Jeg Coughlin, Jr in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, her teammate and the 2023 Factory Stock Showdown champion, Stanfield grabbed the hole shot victory over Hartford with a reaction time of 0.031 to Hartford’s 0.048 which saw him win for the first time this season.
“We’ve struggled this year, we’ve been waiting for that win to come so to get it here at the last race is just awesome and given everything else that’s going on in my life, it’s perfect timing,” Stanfield said.
“Matt and I, we definitely go at each other. He’s a great competitor and a good friend. It’s cool to race against them and it’s always a good time beating Matt. It’s not very fun when he beats you. I’m personally, my team and myself, we are as focused as ever. We’re here to compete for championships at Elite Motorsports. We’re going to come out swinging in Gainesville. We’re looking forward to it already.”
Enders had victories over Cuadra, Sr and Jeg Coughlin, Jr, while Stanfield won over Deric Kramer, Troy Coughlin, Jr, and also Anderson.