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GAINESVILLE -- After missing the first two races in the 2010 season for testing, Erica Enders, driver of the Dragstar Pro Stock Ford Mustang, will return to Gainesville Raceway with a new body and engine. Enders talks about her off-season and getting back into the drivers seat at the NHRA Gatornationals this weekend.
Q. DID YOU DO ANY OFF-SEASON TESTING WITH THE NEW FORD PRO STOCK PACKAG?
A. A little bit, we didn’t do much of it. We just put in the new blocks and heads from Ford, and we are working on some development stuff. We only were able to go to one test session and Jim [Cunningham] drove. We had a few issues we wanted to address, so we went back to the shop, worked on some things, and decided to skip the first two races of the year to fine-tune the new developments on the car. We’re excited to get back out to the track for Gainesville.
Q. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW MUSTANG?
A. The new car is awesome. The 2010 body is great with the aerodynamic. We ran it the last couple of races in 2009 and it was way different than the 2008 body. We are making huge steps in the right direction. We just have not had enough time to do some testing with the new engine and that is kind of why we are a little bit behind the eight ball, but we’re very optimistic about things for this year. The new motor seems to be promising. Larry Morgan’s crew thinks he can find some additional horsepower with the new parts. I’m definitely looking forward to this year.
Q. DURING THE OFF-SEASON YOU ALSO PARTICIPATED IN A USO TOUR.
A. I did, it was me and three other drivers. We went to Germany for a week to visit and it was pretty cool. We were visiting mostly wounded soldiers and it was very eye opening experience. I went to Iraq in 2008 for 17 days and that was a completely different trip because we were in the battle zone, but we were able to fly in helicopters, and meet all of the soldiers. The Germany tour was a little more low-key, but it was definitely cool to go before Christmas and lift the spirits of the soldiers that are serving our country. It was Morgan Lucas, Doug Horne and Spencer Massey and me. I enjoy doing stuff like that. My dad was in the Air Force so I grew up in a military house and I have the up most respect for all of the soldiers. To give a little thanks from people back home just really seems to brighten their day.
Q. WAS IT HARD TO WATCH THE FIRST TWO RACES OF THE SEASON NOT BEING ABLE TO BE THERE TO COMPETE?
A. It’s always hard to watch once you’ve driven, and it’s not the easiest thing in the world to be a spectator. There is a lot to be optimistic about going into Gainesville. I did miss out on some seat time during the off-season with not testing a lot and seat time is priceless. I’ll be excited to get back in my car and head back out on the tour for the rest of the races this year.
Q. WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT GAINESVILLE COMPARED TO OTHER TRACKS YOU HAVE VISITED?
A. Gainesville is one of the first tracks I learned to drive a Pro Stock car at. We had a two-week long test session in 2004, right before I made my pro debut in 2005 and I have a lot of track time there. I actually got to the finals at Gainesville in the spring of 2006. It was the second time I made the finals in my career (Chicago 2005). I definitely have a lot of great memories at the Gatornationals. The fans are always awesome there and it’s always packed. The weather is beautiful in Florida. There is a lot to look forward to so I’m very excited to go back to Gainesville.