Archive for the 2017 Category

Two-time world champion Erica Enders readies for season of redemption

Erica Enders | 2017 NHRA Pro Stock Chevrolet

POMONA, CA — For two glorious seasons from 2014-2015, Erica Enders was on top of the drag racing world, winning back-to-back titles in arguably the toughest category in all motorsports, NHRA Pro Stock. An impressive 15 victories during the stretch was punctuated by her incredible driving prowess. She was, quite simply, peerless.

Last season the proud Texan returned to earth after a switch to another manufacturer, going winless en route to a sagging ninth-place finish overall.

Now, with a new season set to begin with this weekend’s 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, Enders is back in the same Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro that carried her to glory in the past with firm designs on returning to her winning ways.

“We are so anxious to get back on track, to be at the races with a car and combination we know can put us in the winner’s circle,” Enders said. “It’s really all you ever want as a driver and as a race team; the chance to win. We have that again and we’re super excited to get started.”

To Enders, last season was a true blessing in disguise, as she found out the true mettle of her group, headed by team owner Richard Freeman.

“It was a challenging year but what we went through made us stronger,” Enders said. “What we went through would have torn a lot of teams apart but it didn’t hurt us at all. Yeah, we were upset we weren’t performing well but we still joked around, still had fun, and we smiled through it all.

“It was a character-building year, and it showed me there is zero ego on this team. It’s easy to be all happy when you’re winning but the true measure of people comes when times are tough. We’re tough.

“This year is gonna be great because I already know what we’re capable of and so does everyone else. At the same time, I learned we don’t need win lights and trophies to be fulfilled. Being a family, having each other’s backs no matter what, being together through it all, that’s what matters.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon PT, Sunday.

Live coverage of the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals begins with a qualifying show from 1-2 p.m. ET, Saturday, on FOX Sports 1, followed by three hours of eliminations from 4-7 p.m. ET, Sunday, on FOX.

Drag racing champions Jeg Coughlin Jr., Erica Enders return to Chevrolet

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman announced Thursday at the PRI Show that multi-time world champion drag racers Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders will fight for the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock crown in a pair of RJ Racecars-built Chevrolet Camaros.

The move back to Chevrolet was widely anticipated as Freeman and Enders used the bowtie brand to capture the 2014 and 2015 titles for Elite Motorsports. Coughlin drove a Chevrolet to four of his five Pro Stock championships and also piloted a Chevy when he won the 1992 Super Gas world title.

“It comes down to what works best for us,” Freeman said. “My brothers and I have just about always been GM guys. Our engines builders, Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston, have had their best success with GM motors. Our crew chiefs Rick Jones, Mark Ingersoll and Brian Self are very comfortable with Chevrolets. It’s a natural fit for us.

“We want to get back to winning races and contending for championships and we feel Chevrolet gives us the best chance to do that at this point in time. We all know Pro Stock races come down to thousandths of seconds and as tough as the competition is out there you can’t give an inch.”

Under Freeman’s guidance, Jones and his son Rickie Jones, who left the team this offseason to start a family, tuned Enders to six victories in 2014 and nine more in 2015, all with Chevy power propelling them down the track. Coughlin, a winner of a massive 76 national events, won 72 of his trophies with GM power.

“The Camaro is a great car and one I’m very comfortable with as a driver,” Coughlin said. “Rick and Rickie build awesome race cars and getting the latest and greatest one out of their shop makes me feel like a kid at Christmas. I can’t wait to see this yellow and black JEGS.com/Elite Camaro on the racetrack.

“I know we’re all anxious to get back out there and prove ourselves. Drag racers are most certainly graded by their last event and we want to get back to the top of the class once again where we feel
like we belong. There’s a mountain of experience at Elite Motorsports and I know we’re in for a big year ahead.”

It’s very possible Coughlin’s biggest rivals on the racetrack will be Elite Motorsports teammates Enders and Vincent Nobile, who returns to the team with his Mountain View Chevrolet.

“The dream scenario is one of us is in the winner’s circle at every race,” said Enders, the most prolific female in Pro Stock and one of only three women in the 65-year history of the NHRA to win a pro title. “The KB Racing team dominated the field with their three cars this last season and we did a pretty good job ourselves in ’14 and ’15 so we know it can be done.

“As Jeg said, our guys are really hungry to win again. I believe the move back to Chevrolet is by far the best one we could have made and we plan to show everyone that beginning in February in Pomona.”

Championship-winning crew chief Rickie Jones to leave NHRA circuit in 2017

ee-jones

POMONA, CA – Elite Motorsports crew chief Rickie Jones will step back from his duties with the championship-winning NHRA Pro Stock team to focus on his family in 2017.

Jones, the son of veteran crew chief/chassis builder Rick Jones, was an integral part of Erica Enders’ 2014-15 Pro Stock world championships.

“My wife Sarah and I want to start a family and have children,” Rickie Jones said. “That’s harder to do when you’re gone as much as this series demands.

“I’ve been blessed way beyond my wildest dreams to work with Erica and Richard Freeman and the entire Elite team, and I’ll still do that to a degree. But family comes first, and I look forward to spending a lot more time with Sarah as we start this new chapter in our lives.”

Jones, 29, helped guide Enders to 15 race wins and the 2014-15 championships in her first two seasons with the team. Enders, in fact, replaced him as driver at Elite Motorsports – after Jones won the 2013 season-finale at Pomona, Calif. Rickie and Sarah Jones were married in October 2014.

The affable Jones will continue to work at RJ Race Cars and Quarter-Max Chassis and Racing Components in Galesburg, Ill., the companies he and his father own. RJ Race Cars builds the race cars Elite Motorsports uses in NHRA, as well as several other cars for a variety of customers. Jones also pointed to a recent surge in demand for Street Rods and other custom work.

“Rickie has been an invaluable member of Elite Motorsports for many years, and we fully support his decision,” Elite team owner Richard Freeman said. “Elite Motorsports isn’t just a race team, it’s a family, and Rickie and Sarah are a part of that family. We all wish him nothing but the best.

Freeman said the team has no need to hire a replacement for Jones, as existing crew chiefs Rick Jones, Mark Ingersoll and Brian “Lump” Self will lead the three-car team in 2017.

Driver Enders offered her thoughts on Jones’ departure. “Rickie means the world to me, and I’ll definitely miss him at the race track,” Enders said. “He’s a man with a deep faith in God, and he was always an inspiration to me. I wish him and Sarah the best. I know we’ll still see a lot of him.”

Jones’ father will have the biggest adjustment to make as he’s always raced with Rickie by his side.

“He and I have been real tight forever,” Rick Jones said. “He’s been coming to the racetrack since he was a baby so it’s all he knows. We raced together for many years and we’ve had a lot of really good times. It’s a little sad I won’t have him with me next year but I’m going to go on, at least for one more year and Rickie’s going to stay home, run the business and start a family.

Rickie and Sarah want to start a family and my wife Bonnie and I are really looking forward to that. We’ve always been so proud of him. There are really going to be a lot of good things ahead and we are very excited about the future.”

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