POMONA, Calif. (AP) Erica Enders-Stevens won the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Sunday to become the first woman to earn the Pro Stock world championship title.
Enders-Stevens raced to her sixth victory of the season when her closest points rival Jason Line fouled at the start of the winner-take-all final round at Auto Club Raceway. She is the third woman to win an NHRA world championship, joining three-time Top Fuel champion Shirley Muldowney and three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Angelle Sampey.
''To join two of my heroes, Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey, who are both my friends now, as NHRA world champions, is simply unreal,'' Enders-Stevens said. ''The words of advice I've received from those two women means so much to me.''
Enders-Stevens led the points standings for most of the season, overcoming a slow start by rallying in the last four playoff races to get two semifinal finishes in St. Louis and Reading, and closing her championship run with consecutive victories in Las Vegas and Pomona.
''I was a little kid with a big dream,'' Enders-Stevens said. ''I started racing junior dragsters and then moved into sportsman racing and moved on up the ranks to the pro level and now 10 years later here I am in Pro Stock. It's an awesome feeling and I feel so blessed.''
In other races, Matt Hagan claimed the Funny Car world championship over John Force and also won the season-ending race, while Andrew Hines took the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship with a victory in the first round. Morgan Lucas won in Top Fuel and Hector Arana Jr. took the win in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Hagan earned his second world championship in Funny Car when he beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the semifinal round. He then got his fourth victory of the season - and 14th of his career - by beating Force in the final round.
Lucas took his second Top Fuel victory of the season, and 11th of his career, by registering two of the three fastest runs in category history to hold off newly-crowned Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher in the finals. Schumacher earned a record eighth Top Fuel title in qualifying on Saturday.
Hines got his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle title, and first since 2006, with his win in the first round. Arana Jr. won the race - getting his second win of the season and ninth of his career.