Archive for the 2016 Category

Pro Stock ace Erica Enders to double down at several races with ORTEQ Super Gas roadster

Erica Enders to race ORTEQ Super Gas roadster

WYNNEWOOD, OK — Two-time and reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will return to her Sportsman racing roots this season driving the ORTEQ Energy Technologies Super Gas car for Buddy Wood and Cody Ortowski at select races.

Enders earned her first NHRA national event victory in the Super Gas class in 2004 before moving into the professional ranks.

“ORTEQ has been a big part of our success with the Pro Stock car the last few years, and when Buddy and Cody asked if I wanted to drive their Super Gas car I jumped at the chance,” Enders said. “It’ll be great to get back to my Sportsman roots a little and to visit with and race all my friends that run Super Gas. I’m just going to have some fun with it. The car is good, it can win any race we enter, so I’ll do my best to put it in the winner’s circle.”

Wood is longtime friends with Elite Motorsports owner Richard Freeman, car owner of Enders’ Elite/Mopar Dodge Pro Stock Dart. The Wood Racing shop is 15 minutes from Elite’s headquarters in Wynnewood, Okla.

“It’s pretty awesome to have a driver of Erica’s caliber get behind the wheel of our car,” Wood said. “She’s a killer on the Christmas Tree, and we have no doubt she’ll be great in our car. It’ll be great to see what Erica can do.”

“We are ecstatic to have Erica drive our ORTEQ hot rod,” Ortowski said. “When I think about success, I think about character and execution. Erica displays both, week in and week out. We are proud to be aligned with the future of drag racing.”

Sportsman ace Tommy Phillips drove the same car to one national event and two divisional race victories in 2015.

“It won’t be easy; the Super Gas category is very tough and I’m sure my competition will be more than ready for me every race,” Enders said. “It’ll be no different than what we see every round in Pro Stock. You have to earn everything.”

Enders’ Super Gas schedule will be determined at a later date, though she’ll compete in eight to 10 national events in conjunction with her Pro Stock activities.

“My teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr., has run two cars a number of times in the past, and he said it makes for a busier weekend for sure but that it also allows you a better chance to lock in on the Tree and make a bunch more passes, which keeps you in race mode,” Enders said. “By doubling up I’ll actually be cutting down on the distractions we all face at national events. I’ll be too busy.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders flashes driving brilliance in Phoenix loss

Erica Enders Phoenix 2016 Mopar

PHOENIX, AZ — Erica Enders’ 200th career Pro Stock race didn’t go as she wanted, but the two-time defending Pro Stock champion did show she hasn’t lost her touch.

Despite a first-round loss to Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Enders still managed to post the best reaction time of the day, .005-second.

That stellar light gave her an instant advantage over Skillman, but her pass of 6.705 seconds at 207.53 mph wasn’t enough to hold off Skillman’s 6.633 at 208.33 mph.

“Cutting a .005 light made me happy but it was short-lived,” Enders said. “I unclutched it and I thought, ‘Dang, Drew is probably in trouble because that felt pretty good.’ But our car has been extremely unhappy all weekend, and we’re trying to get her settled down and back to our real race car.”

Enders won the 2014 and 2015 Pro Stock championships with a combination of her terrific driving, solid horsepower from Elite Performance, and excellent tune-ups from crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, but much has changed for 2016. NHRA mandated fuel-injected engines limited to 10,500 rpm, and Elite also switched to Mopar, building a new car for Enders, and that car is still being developed.

“It stinks that we are out early in Phoenix, but that round was certainly a step in the right direction,” Enders said. “It gives us a little positive breath of air throughout all of this interesting learning curve. It’s easy to get frustrated, especially coming off two successful years like we have had, but my crew continues to dig deep and have positive attitudes, and that’s what I feel champions are made of.

“I’m so proud of them and proud to be their driver. I know that this early elimination trend is going to end pretty quickly and the rest of the field will be in trouble. Until then we’ll just continue to work on our race car. The Dodge Dart is a great car and we’re going to test before Gainesville, and that will help get us moving in the right direction.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders confident of the future, looking forward to race day

Erica Enders Phoenix 2016 Qualifying

PHOENIX, AZ — By her standards the past two seasons, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders should be frustrated, but the two-time Pro Stock champion is far from being discouraged. The dominance Enders and her team showed in 2014 and 2015 is not apparent at the moment, but after a whirlwind off-season, she knows it’s coming.

Enders qualified No. 9 for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, and she hopes to continue to make strides on race day.

“We went home from Pomona, and the guys worked really hard in the engine shop,” Enders said. “We certainly feel like we made moves in the right direction. We had the second-quickest mph yesterday, which is very encouraging, considering how new our Dodge engine program is.”

Enders and her team switched to Dodge in the off-season, and to comply with new NHRA rules, the team built all-new fuel-injected engines with a 10,500 rpm limit. Her best elapsed time of 6.689 seconds was ninth-best, but her speed of 208.26 mph was fourth-fastest this weekend.

“We made some significant changes with our race car, and it’s just not happy right now,” Enders said. “There’s no other way to beat around the bush. Once we get our race car happy, things will be OK.”

Enders will have to face an Elite Motorsports teammate in the first round for the second race in a row. She battled Jeg Coughlin Jr. at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif., and will face No. 6 qualifier Drew Skillman here. Skillman’s best pass was 6.650 seconds at 207.43 mph. (Usually, the No. 9 qualifier faces the No. 8 qualifier, but because only 14 cars are entered, NHRA had to juggle the ladder).

“That was literally run No. 22 on this car, and eight of those are qualifying runs at national events,” Enders said of her pass in the final qualifying session. “It’s pretty crazy to think that the car is that new.

“In the grand scheme of things, it could be easy to get frustrated because of how we’re used to performing,” Enders added. “But if we look at the big picture and consider everything we went through in the off-season, with all the rules changes and with building two new cars and a motor program, it’s just going to take time. I keep telling people that.

“I’m very optimistic, very confident that things are going to get better.”

FOX Sports 1 will air live coverage of eliminations from 2-5 p.m. PT, Sunday. More than 1.1 million viewers tuned in to the first broadcast of the season.

Phoenix will be champion Erica Enders’ 200th Pro Stock race

2016 Phoenix NHRA marks Erica Enders' 200th race

PHOENIX, AZ — Erica Enders’ epic racing career will reach another milestone when she races at this weekend’s CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. The event will be her 200th career Pro Stock race, dating back to her debut in Pomona in February 2005.

Over that span, Enders has become an NHRA superstar, winning the 2014 and 2015 Pro Stock championships and 21 NHRA national events.

“It’s hard to believe in one sense,” Enders said. “In another sense, it’s like, ‘Are you sure it’s not 200,000 races?’ I feel like I’ve been out there forever.

“It’s definitely a cool milestone. I’m excited to have accomplished that. It means we’ve been out there for quite some time. With God’s grace, I’ll get 200 more races. We’ll see how it goes.”

In 199 career races in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class, Enders has 21 wins, 14 runner-up finishes, 58 semifinal appearances, 18 No. 1 qualifiers, and a 217-128 win-loss round record.

Enders has been outstanding the last two seasons, winning 15 races and both championships. She set an NHRA record in 2015 by winning three consecutive final rounds on holeshots (Brainerd, Minn.; Indianapolis; and Charlotte).

Her nine victories last year broke Angelle Sampey’s single-season mark of victories by a woman (seven) set in 2001, and Enders remains second to Sampey (41) in career wins by a woman.

Enders’ 2016 season didn’t get off to the start she wanted, losing in the first round in Pomona Calif., against Elite Motorsports teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. The Elite team switched to Dodge in the offseason, compounding the issues relating to NHRA-mandated changes for the entire Pro Stock class (fuel-injected engines limited to 10,500 rpm and shorter wheelie bars), but Enders believes in her team, just as they believe in her driving ability.

“I think there will be a lot of improvement made,” Enders said. “We won’t be running at the top of the pack, but we’ll slowly claw our way back up there. We’re hopeful to pick up a hundredth and a half to two-hundredths before Phoenix, but the scoreboard will have to tell us there. We’re certainly going to go home and work on our stuff. It’s a new program, and I know with this group of people, anything is possible.

“I’ve never met a more determined bunch, which fits my personality perfectly, so I know they’ll dig deep. They’re super passionate about it, and they hate losing as much as I do, so you bet your ass we’ll be back where we belong. It’s just going to take some time, and we’ve got to keep that in mind, and that’s OK. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Phoenix is one of Enders’ favorite tracks, mostly because her brother, Tom, lives in the area. He’ll be in attendance with his wife, Stacy, and two daughters, Addison and Alexis.

Plus, Enders raced to a victory there in 2013 and to the final last season.

“Phoenix is like a second home track for me,” Enders said. “I’ve done well there in the past and am hopeful of doing well there again.”

FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying from 7-9 p.m. PT, Saturday, with live coverage of eliminations from 2-5 p.m. PT, Sunday. More than 1.1 million viewers tuned in to the first broadcast of the season.

Start of Pro Stock title defense doesn’t go as Erica Enders planned

Erica Enders burnout at Pomona 2016

POMONA, CA — Two-time Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders hates losing, so it’s fair to say she won’t love this Valentine’s Day.

Enders lost in the first round of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opener, shaking the tires at the hit and almost immediately getting out of the throttle of her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart.

She could only watch as Elite teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. sailed to the victory, but Enders is far from distraught. After massive changes in the off-season — a manufacturer switch to Dodge and an NHRA-mandated change to fuel-injected engines limited to 10,500 rpm — Enders knows better times are ahead.

“We’ve got to keep a positive attitude and keep the mindset that this is only a beginning for us,” Enders said. “We just finished putting our motors together on Wednesday in Phoenix. We can only go up from here, and I know that with all my heart. It is a very tough pill to swallow. I hate losing, I hate losing first round. If there’s any consolation to it, at least it was to my teammate.”

Enders qualified No. 9 in Pomona, the first time since the Sonoma, Calif., event last August that she qualified outside of the top half of the field.

“We’ve got to do some work with these race cars,” Enders said. “That run marks run No. 15 under our belts, and that’s nothing, considering I had over 300 runs on my other car. We’ll learn it, we’ll get it, and we’ll be back to the top — you bet your butt.”

Enders had tempered her expectations for Pomona, knowing the new Dart and Mopar engine is early in its development by Elite Performance, but she didn’t expect such tire shake against Coughlin.

“The track was way different today than it was the whole weekend,” Enders said. “We run behind the fuel cars, and they did zero track prep, which is pretty detrimental to our class. Of course, being first out doesn’t help, but that was our own fault.

“All things considered, coming here we figured we’d be a middle-of-the-pack car, and that’s exactly what we were. We’re going to go home and go to work on this stuff. We’ve got a couple weeks until Phoenix, and in between Phoenix and Gainesville there’s another couple of weeks. I fully expect by the Gatornationals to be a lot more competitive. We’ll keep moving in the right direction.”

Two-time champion Erica Enders shows continued improvement in Pomona

Erica Enders qualifying Pomona 2016

POMONA, CA — In the ever-evolving new world of Pro Stock, improvement is the No. 1 goal.

Two-time champion Erica Enders nailed that goal every time at the season-opening NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race, the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

Enders improved in every qualifying session with her Elite Motorsports Mopar Dodge Dart, ending up No. 9 for Sunday’s eliminations.

“I think we have a lot to be optimistic about,” Enders said. “We have slowly picked away at it through these four qualifying sessions. We made a pretty big change for that last run just to see how the car would take it. It adapted well, so that gives us a little confidence going into tomorrow.”

Enders started off the new era in Pro Stock — one that includes fuel-injected engines with a 10,500-rpm rev limit — with a pass of 6.676 seconds at 208.62 mph, but in the subsequent three qualifying sessions, her elapsed time dropped: 6.669, 6.652, and finally 6.651 seconds at 207.62 mph, which was her best pass.

“When we put this whole program together we knew it would take a little time to get acclimated as far as building the horsepower is concerned and tuning the EFI, and drive-ability is a huge change for me,” Enders said. “We’re all learning and this is just the beginning.”

Enders won the 2014 and 2015 championships with a powerful combination of superb horsepower, excellent tuning, and terrific driving. A switch to Dodge for 2016 may force her team to do a little catch-up, but Enders is the same driver who set an NHRA record last year by winning three consecutive final rounds on holeshots.

“We certainly have a lot of work to do, and Pro Stock is really interesting in that aspect,” Enders said. “You don’t always need to have the fastest car to win; we’ve proven that many times before. My job remains the same tomorrow, and that’s to do my best behind the wheel and cut some good lights and hit my shift points and hopefully drive this Elite Motorsports Mopar Dodge Dart to the winner’s circle. That’s our goal.”

Her first battle comes against new Elite teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., who qualified No. 8 with a pass of 6.645 seconds at 208.55 mph.

“Figures” Enders said. “It’s all right. You know it’s bound to happen when you have 25 percent of the field under one canopy. We were hopeful that wouldn’t be the case, especially at this first event. We have pretty equally matched hot rods, so I guess we’ll see who the best driver is tomorrow.”

Race day eliminations will air live from 2-5 p.m. PT on FOX Sports 1.

Two-time champ Erica Enders hopes good things come in threes

Erica Enders ready for Pomona 2016

POMONA, CA — The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least Erica Enders hopes so.

The Elite Motorsports driver has won the last two NHRA Pro Stock World Championships, with the 2015 title won in dominant fashion. She went to the winner’s circle nine times last year, clinching the title at the penultimate race of the season.

But big changes are on tap for 2016, starting with the Circle K NHRA Winternationals this weekend at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona: The class is switching to fuel-injected engines with a 10,500-rpm limit and wheelie bars are shorter. On top of that Enders and her team are switching to Mopar, and she’ll be driving a new Dodge Dart along with new teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.

“I’m excited to get the season started, to get a feel for where everybody’s at,” Enders said. “We’ve beaten all the changes into the ground talking about them, but it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. It’s definitely going to be a tough year.

“I’m excited about going back to Pomona. We’ve had some success there in the past and our plan is to continue that. We’ll head west after we finish testing Wednesday and see how it goes.”

Enders won the season-finale in Pomona in 2014, winning the championship by beating Jason Line in the final round of the final race. She won six times that year, but 2015 was even better.

“You learn a lot when you experience things with the right people,” Enders said. “I’d always hoped for what I have here at Elite, and to have finally gotten a chance to work with such an elite group of people and to win the championship our first two years together says a lot.

“What impressed me last year is we were able to top what we accomplished in 2014, which was an absolute dream season. You wonder if that’s even possible, and then we went out there and did just that by winning nine races, the U.S. Nationals for the first time, and then to wrap it up a race early was just crazy.”

Enders and her Elite team have succeeded through a combination of talent, hard work, and perseverance. They believe in each other, and Enders is convinced the team’s chemistry will help them get through the big transition this season.

“I pick them over anybody else in the whole world,” Enders said. “I know that if anybody can, we can. It’s very challenging and there’s definitely going to be a learning curve involved. It’s going to take time to get better, but at the same time, you’ve got to be optimistic, and we are — we’ll be just fine.

“A lot of the teams over the offseason worked on the horsepower they had, but we built two new teams, two new race cars, and a whole new Mopar engine program. We’ve jammed as much as you could pack into an offseason. And with EFI added to the equation with a lower rev limiter and shorter wheelie bars, it’s crazy.”

Enders, though, is motivated to take a run at a third championship in a row.

“It’s been an incredible run, and I feel like we’re nowhere close to being done,” Enders said. “Having said that, it’s tough out there every year. It’s going to be a real tall order this year, for sure, with all the changes involved and the new program that we’re building, but we’ll get there. It’s going to take time, but we’re going to be fine. I always say it, but my money’s on us. We’ve got the best group, the best crew chiefs, the best team owner, the best chassis builder, the best drivers. Game on.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 3:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and eliminations will begin at noon, Sunday. Qualifying action will be broadcast at 10:30 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1 a.m., Sunday, on FOX Sports 1, with eliminations broadcast live at 5 p.m., Sunday.

Today fans can enter to win tickets for Racing in Red premiere, meet Erica Enders

Racing in Red

WYNNEWOOD, OK — Two-time defending Pro Stock champion Erica Enders is hosting a contest to give away tickets for the premiere of Racing in Red, the film documenting her charge to the 2014 title.

To enter, fans on Twitter can tweet to her (@erica_enders) using the hashtag #racinginred and explain why they should be awarded tickets to the premiere. The contest will close at noon Pacific time on Monday, Feb. 8, and winners will be responsible for their own transportation to the premiere.

Enders will select two winners who give the best response. Winners will also get a chance to meet Enders.

Racing in Red will premiere at 5 p.m. PT, Feb. 11, at the Harkins Chino Hills 18 theater, six miles south of Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif. Only fans who can attend are asked to enter.

Elite Motorsports team members, the film production crew, media, sponsors, and Kickstarer contributors will be in attendance.

Before the 2014 season, Elite team owner Richard Freeman partnered with Danielson Entertainment Group, LLC, and Design con Carne, Inc., to capture on film the ins and outs of what turned out to be a championship season.

The filmmaking team traveled with Enders and her Elite team through most of the triumphant 2014 season, capturing behind-the-scenes moments that most fans don’t get to see. They were able to document the highs and lows of Enders’ season, getting portraits of Enders and her team members, from owner Freeman and his family to crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones.

The film will soon be available for purchase at the PiranaZ trailer at NHRA national events.

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