Archive for the Chevrolet Category

Upset-minded two-time World Champ Erica Enders ready to wreak havoc

Erica Enders | NHRA 2017 St. Louis Gateway Motorsports Park

ST. LOUIS, MO — Currently sixth in the Championship to the Countdown playoff standings, two-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders knows a third career victory at Gateway Motorsports Park would propel her up the rankings at the midway point of this year’s title chase. She also knows knocking off a few of the drivers ahead of her would throw a huge wrench in the fight for the sport’s top prize.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Enders said. “With just four Sundays left in the Countdown, we’ve got a lot of work to do to see if we can move up in the points. Part of that is knocking off the drivers ahead of us in the points so I say line ’em up and let’s go. We’ve worked our way to the top of the mountain twice before so we know what it takes. The plan is to keep chasing it until it’s over.”

Slotted seventh in the elimination field of the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals after a best pass of 6.550 at 210.83 mph, Enders will begin her quest for glory against good friend Allen Johnson, who qualified 10th with a 6.560 at 209.65 mph. Enders and Johnson have not squared off against one another this year.

“Today was fair at best,” Enders said. “That last run was a step in the right direction. The first session of the day, all of our team cars blew the tires off so we basically came back here and changed everything. We turned right around and every single one of us went right down the runway so that is definitely a step in the right direction.

“We get to go to bed tonight knowing that at least our race cars go down the track. That’s always a comforting feeling because you know you have a chance.”

Enders won her 22nd career race earlier this year in Epping, N.H., proving her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is capable of going the distance. She also is a two-time winner at this facility, having won consecutive Pro Stock trophies here in 2012 and 2013.

“It’s been a struggle for about 10 races now, really ever since we won that race up there in Epping,” Enders said. “We continue to work on it. We’ve made about 125 test runs since Indy just trying to figure it out so it’s not for a lack of effort or check writing for that matter.

“I’ve got the best guys in the business in my opinion and I wouldn’t go to battle with anyone else. Like I said, it’s easier to go to bed Saturday night knowing you’ve got a good run under your belt instead of not knowing what the heck is going on. It definitely improves morale and gives us a little confidence going into tomorrow. It’s going to be tough out there tomorrow racing on a nice, warm track.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday, and will air live from 1-4 p.m., Sunday, on FOX Sports 1. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Back-to-back champ Erica Enders, a back-to-back winner in St. Louis, wants more

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock 2017

ST. LOUIS, MO — Gateway Motorsports Park has always been a favorite track for two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, dating back to her adolescence when she raced a Junior Dragster at the facility. Her warm feelings for the track have only strengthened since she’s turned pro, one of many reasons she’s excited to return for this weekend’s sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals.

“We’re feeling like we’re on a bit of an uptick after posting two good runs Sunday in Reading (Pa.) and then you add in the fact we’re going to St. Louis, one of my all-time favorite tracks, and I can sense a little excitement in the pit,” Enders said. “We’re being realistic about where we are and what we need to do, and we’re still fighting hard.

“We’ve had a great string of successes at Gateway. We won there in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013. Then we earned the pole in 2014. We went back to the finals in 2015 and finished as runner-up, so yeah, it’s a great track for us.”

The most prolific female racer in Pro Stock history and the third most decorated female in NHRA history, Enders points to St. Louis as the place where her professional career officially began.

“Back in 2004 at St. Louis we announced that I would be racing Pro Stock,” Enders said. “It was a moment I’ll never forget. Finally getting to that point in my career was so huge. To go from a kid in the garage with my dad handing him wrenches to racing Juniors, to running a bunch of different sportsman cars, and then finally turning pro, it was a dream come true.

“It’s never been easy and we had plenty of struggles along the way but we persevered and reached the top of the sport in 2014 and 2015. Now our focus is on getting back to the top of the mountain and we won’t give up until we do.”

Through two of six Countdown to the Championship playoff races, Enders remains in sixth place in the Mello Yello world rankings. She knows going rounds in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro every weekend from here on out is tantamount to her ultimate success.

“We have tested and tested these cars and we keep finding little things that make us better,” Enders said. “The tire change really threw us a curve but we can’t complain because everyone is dealing with the same components. I say it all the time and I’ve never meant it more, but there is no other team, no other group of people I would rather be with in this journey. Hopefully I can reward my guys with a trophy or two before we’re done this year.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:45 and 6:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 5-6 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

World champ Erica Enders dealing with ‘unhappy’ car as Reading turns to eliminations

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock 2017 Reading

READING, PA – Two-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders only made one decent pass in qualifying for the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals, but the ever-hopeful Texan says she’s confident team owner Richard Freeman has the crew in place to turn their fortunes around during Sunday’s eliminations at Maple Grove Raceway.

“At the end of July when we were racing in Sonoma (Calif.), we didn’t get down the track in any of the four qualifying rounds,” Enders recalled. “On Sunday, we go out in the first round and we were second quickest of the entire session. It just so happens we had Bo (Butner) in the other lane and he was quickest so we lost, but we would have beaten any other car.

“That’s why you race on the track, not on paper. Anything can happen on race day. I have the best guys on the best team in the sport and we will remain positive. I’ve been known to get up on the wheel on occasion so we will see what happens tomorrow. All we can do is remain positive, do our best and let God do the rest.”

Enders opened qualifying for this weekend’s race with a 6.594 at 210.28 mph Friday early afternoon. She then slowed to a 6.638 at 210.47 mph in Round 2 later in the day. But the wheels came off Saturday with back-to-back shutoff runs.

“We came here with a slight renewed sense of hope after our test session in Charlotte,” Enders said. “I drove both mine and Jeg’s cars there. We felt like we were getting somewhere with the set-up and were pretty happy.

“We came here and start off Q1 with a 6.594 and we were qualified No. 4 after session 1. We came back and looked up the data and it was a terrible run so, we thought, ‘this is awesome, we can tune on this and get way better.

“We came back for Q2 and just kinda blew the tire off the car. I got it down the track but it went 6.63. Today we went out there both runs and shook the tires. I was in the right lane, almost hit the wall, this evening I was in the left lane and almost crossed the center line so the car is not happy.”

At the close of qualifying, Enders was slotted ninth, so she’ll surrender lane choice in Round 1 of eliminations to Chris McGaha, who qualified eight with a 6.593 at 210.24 mph.

“Something is bad wrong with the car but I wouldn’t want another group of guys to work on this Camaro than the crew I’ve got,” Enders said. “I’ll sleep good tonight. I have the best guys in the world working hard on making things right so we will continue to keep our chins up and remain positive.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 2-5 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Pro Stock ace Erica Enders focused on flying high in Pennsylvania

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock

READING, PA – As the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ Countdown to the Championship playoffs continue with this weekend’s 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders has her sights set on gaining traction in championship points by taking her bright red Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to another winner’s circle.

Enders, a feisty 33-year-old Houston native, goes into the second round of the Countdown to the Championship sixth in points. Even though she and her Richard Freeman-owned team have been challenged recently with a change in rear tire specs, Enders remains highly confident in her group’s ability to contend for a third title and add to her glowing legacy as the most-acclaimed female driver in the history of the factory hot rod class.

“I’ve done well at Maple Grove, but I’ve never won there so that’s something I would like to knock off of my to-do list,” Enders said. “I’m glad we’re heading back East because that’s big Pro Stock country. The fans absolutely love this class and that’s something that will be refreshing to see after the tumultuous year this class has had. I’m also looking forward to a little break in the weather. It’s been a little hot this summer.”

Although the forecast looks iffy, Reading usually gives racers a break from the heat of summer as fall begins in eastern Pennsylvania. Maple Grove Raceway takes advantage of its locale and cooler temps to give competitors and fans some of the quickest and fastest racing on the planet with record-setting performances the norm at the charming facility. For Enders, it also provides her an opportunity to relish in some family time.

“I’m looking forward to the weekend,” Enders said. “My sister and brother-in-law live 15 minutes from the racetrack and there’s a lot of family and friends up there so we will take all four of these team cars, along with Larry Morgan, our newest engine leasing customer, and see what we can do. We’ll have five of us up there battling it out. I’m very optimistic and looking forward to racing at Maple Grove.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates Jeg Coughlin Jr., Vincent Nobile, and Alex Laughlin as well as the rest of the Pro Stock class have dealt with many changes this year, including a switch to a new spec rear tire. Enders is hoping Reading will help her and her team get a better grip on the change.

“The new tire has been a challenge for us to get a hold of and we are just going to continue to fine tune on our 60-foot times,” Enders said. “That’s where we have struggled. If we can make up the .02 (seconds) and .03 we lack down low, it will translate to .04 or .05 at the top end.

“Horsepower is not a problem in our Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro, it’s just managing the horsepower with the new tire. We will just keep chipping away at it.”

Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:45 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 2:30-3:30 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 2-5 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Erica Enders opens 2017 playoffs with quarterfinal showing at NHRA Carolina Nationals

Erica Enders 2017 NHRA Carolina Nationals

CONCORD, NC — Two-time world champion Erica Enders went one-up, one-down Sunday at the first of six races in the 2017 Countdown to the Championship, the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway.

Enders scored a mild upset over Elite Motorsports teammate Alex Laughlin in Round 1 when the slightly higher-qualified Laughlin was forced to surrender his run. She then matched her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro up against local Tanner Gray with Gray evening their season record against one another at 3-3.

“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t make a race out of it but we broke a motor,” Enders said. “We definitely have a better race car (since prerace testing) but in Round 2 there, right after I did the burnout and backed up, I could hear the motor was broken. I radioed my guys and told them, then looked at my team owner, he doesn’t wear a radio but my engine guy does and he was right here to relay what happened. I looked at Richard (Freeman, team owner) and motioned, ‘Do you want me to go?’ and he pointed down the track to tell me to send it. We may kick the rods out but you’ve gotta try. It’s the playoffs.”

Geared up for the start of the Countdown to the Championship, Enders blistered good friend Laughlin at the starting line, leaving with a .016-second reaction time to Laughlin’s .042-second launch. She never looked back, as Laughlin began to get out of shape and pushed in the clutch of his hot rod, allowing Enders to win with a 6.653 at 208.36 mph to Laughlin’s 7.886 at 108.36 mph.

Against Gray, Enders once again left first but traveled less than a football field before her car’s powerplant expired. That allowed Gray to speed away for the win in 6.586 seconds at 210.47 mph.

Up next, Enders and crew move immediately to Maple Grove Raceway for next weekend’s 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa.

“We are testing tomorrow here at zMax Dragway,” Enders said. “There are still five races left and I enjoy having our backs against a wall. I feel like we have the best team period and we are always able to perform under pressure so I am ready for the Countdown to continue. We will test both of these cars tomorrow and make them better and go on to Reading with our chins held high. We are getting better with these Chevy Camaros but time will tell and I am up for the challenge.”

Melling Performance pro Erica Enders excited about eliminations in Charlotte

Erica Enders | Charlotte 2017 NHRA Pro Stock

CONCORD, N.C. — Throughout her record-setting career, two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders always has done her best work in pressure-packed situations. When others wilt, she blossoms, which is one of the many reasons she’s excited about the first of six race days left in the 2017 season.

“The playoffs are definitely a different animal,” Enders said. “We’ve lived it, we’ve fought down to the last round of the season, we’ve felt the most pressure you can feel in this sport and we’ve come out on top. If that gives us an edge this year, we’ll take it.

“Of course, the guys that are going to make the biggest challenges are all veteran teams and most have them have won it all in the past. Either way, whoever wins this year’s championship will have earned it, no doubt.”

Enders’ first test will come Sunday at the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway. Enders will start the day as the No. 9 qualifier after posting a best pass of 6.602 seconds at 209.75 mph in time trials.

“We’ve been testing the tires off these cars the last few months and we are really optimistic about our latest changes,” Enders said. “We can already see some big gains in Jeg (Coughlin’s) car and my guys are going over that data to make my car better. I know for sure I already feel a lot more confidence in our direction.

“The playoffs are a fight from start to finish. The pressure you feel is because every round feels like a final round with a million dollars on the line. You just know you’ve got to find a way to win every matchup. There’s no holding back.”

For her qualifying efforts, Enders will be matched up against part-time teammate and close friend Alex Laughlin in the first round of sudden-death eliminations. Laughlin qualified eighth with a 6.600 at 209.17 mph. The two racers have only squared off once this year and it was during the four-wide race in Charlotte last spring. On that day, Laughlin was one of the two racers to advance out of their quad of racers.

“This team has been in the championship wars and come out on top two different times so we know what it takes,” Enders said. “We’ll fight this fight until we have nothing left. No matter what, I love these guys and I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

“We have a lot of support here this weekend also, which is always great. Our friends from Arthur J. Gallagher, Transportation Impact and Melling Performance are with us. We’re having a good time and everyone is excited about the possibilities.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. Live action will air on FOX Sports 1 from 2:30-5:30 p.m., Sunday. (Times are local and subject to change.)

Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders says ‘Don’t bet against us’

Erica Enders

CONCORD, NC — Erica Enders’ two Pro Stock championships both came in the 10-year-old playoff era so she has intimate knowledge of how the six-race Countdown to the Championship works. With the first playoff race taking place this weekend at zMax Dragway, Enders and her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports crew know it’s time to put up or shut up.

“The regular season is all about securing a spot in the top 10 so you’ve got a ticket to the playoffs,” Enders said. “We’ve done that part. Now it’s time to get to work and see what we can do about winning another championship. We’re only a year removed from our last title but it seems like forever and we’d love to get it back.

“I’ve said time and again, in the glory times and when we’ve been down, that Elite Motorsports is the best team in professional drag racing and I tell people, ‘Don’t bet against us,’ because I know what this group is capable of doing. We’ve won this year, we’ve had three runner-up finishes, we’ve had the quickest and fastest car in plenty of sessions, now we just need to put it all together and keep it moving through the Countdown.”

Enders enters this year’s playoffs in sixth place, placing her 60 points or three rounds of elimination racing behind leader Bo Butner. Her most recent final-round appearance came just three races ago in Seattle.

“We ran well in Seattle but we’ve done so much work since then the car is totally different,” Enders said. “I personally made 40 passes in my car and Jeg (Coughlin Jr., teammate’s) car before Indy and after Indy we went and tested for three more days. We invited some friends along on this most recent test to give us a fresh perspective on how the cars were set up and what we have been doing with the engines and the changes they suggested look really promising.

“This team doesn’t have ego issues. They are happy to bring in people to help us when we’re struggling with something. That’s why Richard Freeman (team owner) has been so successful; he knows winning championships takes extreme effort. He knows there is nothing simple or routine in this sport.”

Charlotte has been good to Enders in the past. She raced to runner-up results in 2012 and 2013 and was top qualifier at the facility in 2014.

“If you can put together a string first race in the Countdown it really makes a difference moving forward,” Enders said. “We’re going to give it all we have and see what happens. There will certainly be no lack of effort put in for the Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:45 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day of qualifying action live from 6-7 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 2:30-5:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Erica Enders starts chase for third championship after Indy

Erica Enders | NHRA Indy 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders has been to the winner’s circle at the sport’s biggest race — the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals — in 2015, but she could not return to the hallowed ground at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis this year as the fan-favorite racer bowed out in the opening stanza of eliminations.

Enders, a Houston native and the most acclaimed female racer in the history of Pro Stock, qualified her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro in the No. 11 position (6.604 seconds, 209.10 mph). In round one, Enders’ bright red racer had an untimely performance lapse and she was defeated by Chris McGaha, 6.703, 206.99 to 6.660, 206.42.

“We slowed way up,” Enders said. “Until we sort out our issue, we are on a hope and a prayer every time. It’s really an unfortunate situation to be in, especially at Indy.”

Before the 63rd running of the U.S. Nationals, the NHRA mandated a new Goodyear rear tire for Pro Stock competition. The change in how the race car maintains its valuable traction affected some of the factory hot rod teams more than others.

“It’s just more changes and it’s throwing us for a loop, and we have to work on it,” Enders said. “Pro Stock has a had a lot of significant changes in the last three years, but we just have to keep working at it and do our best to just roll with the changes. Rick and Ricky (Jones, crew chiefs) will get it figured out – They always do.”

Despite a disappointing showing in Indy, Enders locked in the No. 6 position in the NHRA playoffs, the Countdown to the Championship, which begins at the next event in Charlotte and continues through five more events concluding in Pomona, Calif. in November.

“After we get back from Indy, we are going testing again,” Enders said. “You know, at some point after all of this hard work and money spent we are bound to figure something out. Our Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports team is resilient and certainly knows how to win championships. We’ll get things straightened out.”

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