Archive for the Countdown Category

Enders-Stevens bursts back on Pro Stock scene with No. 4 qualifying effort

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CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 14) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens hasn’t shown any rust in her return to Pro Stock racing, grabbing the No. 4 qualifying spot for the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens missed six of the last eight races because her Cagnazzi Racing team was sidelined, but Husky Liners joined the team as a marketing partner for the Countdown to the Championship. Charlotte is the opening race to NHRA’s playoffs, and Enders-Stevens is right in the middle of the title hunt.

“The car’s running really well,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had a great run this morning and we were on a really good run this afternoon. That’s promising for tomorrow, especially since we’re getting off the starting line.”

Enders-Stevens, ninth in the points standings, had a top pass of 6.546 seconds at 211.83 mph in the third qualifying session. She was solid in her other runs, but the Q4 pass was aborted when her Camaro darted out of the groove.

“I’m pleased with how the car’s running,” Enders-Stevens said. “That gives me confidence going into tomorrow. The conditions will be similar to what they were today, and I think tomorrow is going to be a driver’s race. It’s a really tight field, and everybody seems to be running well. We’ll see how it goes and keep a positive attitude.

“We want to do well, not only because it’s the first race of the Countdown but for Husky Liners, too. We’re so blessed they stepped up, and we want to make them proud.”

Fans at zMax have been good to the popular driver, as crowds have gathered around her pit area all weekend to see her again.

“The fans have welcomed me back with open arms,” Enders-Stevens said. “A lot of them have said, ‘Welcome back. We’re glad you’re back.’ I haven’t stopped smiling all weekend. It’s been great.”

She wants it to continue into Sunday, when she’ll kick off eliminations against Rodger Brogdon, who qualified No. 13 with a lap of 6.594 seconds at 210.64 mph.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a tough day,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll all have to be on our game, and I’m excited about our chances.”

Eliminations begin at noon EDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 3:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday and the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. later that night.

Enders-Stevens, Husky Liners ready to race for NHRA title

CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 10) – Erica Enders-Stevens is certainly counting her blessings now that Husky Liners has given her an opportunity to return to her Cagnazzi Racing Pro Stock Camaro, but the five-time NHRA winner wants to do more than race: She wants to win the 2013 championship.

With new title sponsorship from Husky Liners, Enders-Stevens will compete in the Countdown to the Championship, which begins with this weekend’s sixth annual Carlyle Tools NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

“We’re excited and optimistic about the weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’re so blessed to have Husky Liners on the side of the car.”

Enders-Stevens missed six of 18 regular season races because of sponsorship issues but had such a strong season that she still qualified for NHRA’s playoffs. She won a race and reached the final at three others during the regular season to earn the No. 9 seed in the Countdown.

“Everyone knows we’ve got a great team and a great car and really good horsepower,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel and giving the guys a run for their money.”

Her Cagnazzi Racing team returns with Tommy Utt and Dave Connolly serving as crew chiefs. The Victor Cagnazzi-owned team is based in Mooresville, N.C., not far from zMax Dragway, though the team is still looking for its first win at its home track.

“Starting off the Countdown at our team’s home track in Charlotte is going to be important,” Enders-Stevens said. “We certainly have a lot of test runs there, and the last time through this spring we runner-upped. We’ve had a lot of success there, and we’ll see if we can finally get it done at zMax. It’s the only track left on the tour where Cagnazzi Racing hasn’t won.

“To be able to do that this weekend would be awesome, but we’re going to take it one day at a time, one run at a time, and see how it goes.”

Enders-Stevens was fourth in the Pro Stock standings before her team missed six of the last eight races. In the interim, she drove in two ADRL Pro Mod races for Keith Haney Racing to stay sharp.

“I missed out on a lot of seat time but it’s like riding a bike, and I’m hungry and going after it,” Enders-Stevens said. “I went from a few days ago thinking we were going to sit out the Countdown, to now where we’ve got a real shot to chase the championship.

“We’re the underdog. I’m in the ninth position and we’ve got our work cut out for us, but if anybody can do it, we can. My guys are awesome.”

Enders-Stevens will race for NHRA title with new sponsor Husky Liners

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WINFIELD, Kan. (Sept. 6) – One of the most popular drag racers on the NHRA tour, Erica Enders-Stevens, will run for the 2013 championship with new title sponsorship from Husky Liners.

Enders-Stevens successfully qualified for the Countdown to the Championship two races ago in Brainerd, Minn., but was facing the prospect of watching the six-race playoffs from the sidelines until team owner Victor Cagnazzi struck an eleventh-hour deal with Husky Liners founder Bob Tyler.

“This is very exciting for us,” Tyler said. “There’s not a lot of things you can do that can make an instant impact on your sales, but we know that vehicle sales are on the upswing and this is the time of year that historically we do pretty well. To have Erica and Cagnazzi Racing promoting our line of Made In America products now is just an unbelievable opportunity for us.”

Cagnazzi and Tyler got together at the recently completed U.S. Nationals in Indy when the two COPO Camaros they own met in the final of the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown with drivers Dave Connolly and Todd Patterson going head-to-head. It was the second year in a row the two drivers met in the money round.

“We got to talking about Erica and I told Victor I felt she’s someone that should be out there,” Tyler said. “She’s so good for the sport. Of course, we’re always interested in getting more exposure for Husky Liners, so after a few texts back and forth we struck this deal. I think it’s going to be great. I can’t wait to see how it goes.”

Enders-Stevens certainly has proven herself a worthy title contender. She qualified for the Countdown despite missing six of the 18 regular-season races due to funding issues, winning her fifth career title during the Phoenix stop and taking runner-up honors in Las Vegas, Charlotte, and Bristol, Tenn.

“I can’t believe how fortunate we are that Mr. Tyler and his company have signed on to support us,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s pretty crazy because I’m a Texas girl and in high school I had a 4×4 pickup truck that had floor mats and mud flaps from Husky Liners. Their stuff is awesome. I know from first-hand experience.

“The guys are super pumped. This has given us new life, for sure. I think everyone in the class knows what we’re capable of doing and at the same time we know what it takes to compete at this level. We all kind of feel like we need to make a statement, and winning some races and contending for the championship would say a lot about us. We went to the final in Charlotte last time through, and that’s the home track for Victor Cagnazzi Racing, so we hope to get off to a fast start. We’ll be ready.

“I encourage everyone that supports drag racing and my team to go to HuskyLiners.com and check out their products. And when they order something, tell them thanks for the support. Sponsors are so hard to get, and I want to make sure these guys get their money’s worth from us.”

The team will unveil their Husky Liners Chevrolet Camaro Sept. 13-15 at the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts at zMAX Dragway.

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