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Erica Enders Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals Preview - FastDoorslammers.com
(3-27-2012) LAS VEGAS, NV – Erica Enders hasn’t driven her GK Motorsports Chevrolet for more than two weeks, but the Pro Stock driver has been plenty busy as she prepares for this weekend's 13th annual Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After a weekend off following the race in Gainesville, Fla., Enders spent 10 days in Boston, speaking to high school students about the dangers of driving while distracted. Plus, she got in a little sight-seeing with her boyfriend, fellow drag racer Richie Stevens, in the historic city, visiting the Old North Church, the site of the Boston Massacre, Samuel Hall, Quincy Market and the bar from the television show "Cheers."

Enders spoke at six schools in the Boston area, one in Rhode Island and another in New Hampshire. A driving simulator is used as part of the presentation.

"It’s not a 'scared straight' program because we don’t show any crashes or anything like that," Enders said. "We just want to show the kids just how quick something can happen, especially when you are inexperienced like a 16-year-old.

"Like all of us, I have texted and e-mailed while driving before, but this program really has shown me what can happen when you drive distracted. Even talking on your cell phone is a cognitive distraction."

Enders is renowned for her focus in a race car, and she’ll put that on display at Vegas this weekend. Her Cagnazzi Racing team recently added veteran Tommy Utt to serve alongside crew chief Dave Connolly, and Enders’ Chevrolet Cobalt has seen an immediate performance upgrade.

"Our performance has gotten a little bit better and I hope that continues in Vegas," Enders said. "We’ve got a great car and my guys are awesome.

"We’ve been testing a lot. We’re really working on our car management and things are getting better. Everyone works really well together, and our confidence is high."

Enders isn’t much of a gambler, but she does enjoy playing card games with Connolly and crew member Johnny Utt on occasion. But there’s a catch.

"I go sit and play cards with Dave and Johnny and Richie, when he’s here," Enders said. "But I don’t use my money. I use their money."

Enders certainly hopes she plays with house money at The Strip this weekend.

Qualifying for the Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals get under way with a pair of sessions starting at 2 p.m. on Friday. Qualifying continues on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. with eliminations starting at 11 a.m. Sunday from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. ESPN2 will broadcast the qualifying show at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and the elimination show at 4 p.m. Sunday. All times listed in Pacific Daylight Time.
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