Archive for the Countdown Category

Texas native Erica Enders will need perfection to defend Dallas title

ee-dal16-sat

DALLAS, TX — Reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders will have to be perfect to defend the title of the annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals after an off-pace qualifying effort that left her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart in the 15th spot on the elimination ladder.

Enders powered to a convincing victory at this event one year ago that all but clinched her second straight world title. It was one of nine wins she recorded in a record-breaking year. The Spring, Texas native hasn’t been as fortunate this season, and she finds herself still searching for her first win of 2016.

“Three races left on the schedule so that’s three chances to win,” Enders said. “Realistically, it’ll be tough and we didn’t do ourselves any favors here during qualifying but that won’t stop us from giving our all tomorrow. We’ve seen crazier things happen in the past.

“We have three cars racing out of Elite Motorsports between myself, Jeg (Coughlin) and Vincent (Nobile). Vincent is still very much in the mix for the championship this year so at our last team meeting Jeg and I told him we’d do all we could to help him get there. The best thing we can do is knock off those cars he’s battling, so we’ll give it hell.”

Friday qualifying ended with Enders posting a 6.652 at 207.75 mph, but that number wasn’t good enough to lock up a spot in the top 12 so the team had to start over Saturday. In her first effort Saturday she was forced to shut off well before the finish line and she drifted to a 9.776 at 94.49 mph.

Later, she came back in the final session and ran a 6.748 at 184.45 mph, the 15th best time of the day. Her first match-up will come against championship hopeful Greg Anderson, who topped out at 6.579 at 210.11 mph.

“Greg and Jason (Line, Anderson’s teammate) have been 1-2 all year between the two of them so right off the start we have a chance to take out a top car,” Enders said. “Obviously they have us covered this weekend but you never know what will happen on race day.

“I’m so happy to be back in Texas. I love my state and I feel so great whenever I’m here breathing Texas air.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast all of the elimination action live from 2-5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

World champion Erica Enders beats title contender Butner before fouling out of Reading

Erica Enders | NHRA Dodge Nationals 2016

READING, PA — Back-to-back world champion Erica Enders notched one of her biggest elimination round-wins of the year Sunday, beating title contender Bo Butner wire-to-wire in the opening session of the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.

“To go out there and get this Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart a round-win at the Dodge Nationals was exciting,” Enders said. “The uphill battle this entire season has been for us continues, but with only one run on this racetrack throughout qualifying, we really had a challenge before us today and my guys, as always, rose to the occasion.

“People always hear me bragging on my crew, and today showed exactly why I do it all the time. These guys are the best, and at a point in the season where it would be easy to mail it in, they fought hard, dug down, and gave me a great race car that took out one of the best cars in the category this year.”

Enders herself contributed to the victory, leaving ahead of Butner with a stellar .019-second reaction time. Butner wasn’t far behind after a .029-second launch, but he didn’t have the horsepower to catch the sport’s most prolific female Pro Stock racer, losing to Enders at both ends, 6.644 at 207.34 mph to his 6.647 at 209.43 mph.

“That round-win allowed our teammate, Vincent Nobile, to pass Bo and go into third place, and then Vincent went on to win the whole race, so it was a big day for Elite Motorsports,” Enders said.

Nobile’s triumph at the end of the day came at Enders’ expense as he beat her in the quarterfinals en route to the victory circle. In that race Enders left too early, drawing a -.007 red-light disqualification, which negated her 6.656 at 207.72 mph. Nobile might have been too tough to beat anyway as he posted a stout 6.600 at 209.88 mph.

“That second-round race against Vincent was definitely interesting,” Enders said. “We were in and out of our race cars a couple of times because of all the rain delays. I did a burnout at one point, backed up, and had to shut off and wait again. There were a lot of variables that went into that run.

“It’s one of those shoulda, coulda, woulda deals, but either way I should not have been red. That’s disappointing to me because it ends like a five-year streak of not being red. Having said that, we would not have been able to turn that win light on. He flat out had us covered. I’m just glad it was against my teammate. He’s going to battle for the Mello Yello championship right to the end.”

The Countdown to the Championship resumes after one week off with the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, Oct. 13-16, at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.

“We’ll head home for a week to work on things,” Enders said. “We’ll be ready for Dallas and try to help Vincent some more.”

Erica Enders wanted another chance at Reading track, but settles for mid-pack slot

Erica Enders | Dodge NHRA Nationals 2016

READING, PA — In between what has seemed to be a never-ending smattering of rain at Maple Grove Raceway, there were moments of really good drag racing, and reigning world champion Erica Enders is convinced she could have made a big move if she was given another chance. But in the end, she only got one shot in her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart and had to settle for the No. 9 spot on the qualifying grid.

“Dang it, we wanted another run,” Enders said. “It got really good this afternoon, and if the moisture had just dried up a tiny bit we could have really flown down this track. I think we just reached a point where it cooled off and the dew point and ambient temperatures were almost the same, so conditions just wouldn’t allow the Safety Safari to get the surface dry enough.

“I’ll tell you what, though, tomorrow this place is going to be a mineshaft. Everyone is saying the rain is pretty much over for this area, so if it stays cool and the track has a chance to air out tonight and tomorrow morning, it will be awesome.”

In her one run down the track Enders ran a semi-conservative 6.643-second pass at 208.65 mph, placing her ninth in the Pro Stock field of the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.

“After missing all of yesterday and seeing so much on and off sprinkling today, we wanted to make sure we got down what was a pretty green racetrack safely and with a decent time,” she said. “That’s exactly what we did, and once we saw the data from that run we had a really good game plan for this afternoon if we got to make another pass.

“It has been quite a struggle this year, but we’re getting things together now and we have a decent baseline to work from. Both of our team cars have been inching up the performance scale and we’re closer to where we want to be.”

For her efforts, Enders will open race day against Bo Butner, who posted a pass of 6.604 seconds at 211.00 mph. Surprisingly, the two racers have not faced one another this year.

“Bo’s been strong all year, running with the KB Racing boys, so he’ll be a good test right out of the gate,” Enders said. “We’re all kind of going to play the guessing game to a certain extent tomorrow because there’s definitely been more moisture on the track since we got to run earlier, so it’ll be scraped and dried and probably totally different tomorrow.

“I’ll leave the heavy thinking up to my guys. I just need to concentrate on doing my job in the car and we should have a great chance.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the action live from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

Erica Enders exits in first round of St. Louis national event

Erica Enders | NHRA Midwest Nationals 2016

ST. LOUIS, MO — Erica Enders raced to the Pro Stock final at Gateway Motorsports Park as part of her run to the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship.

There likely will be no such similar run this season after Enders was knocked out in the first round of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. In her first season running the Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge, Enders has struggled to maintain her stellar performance from 2014-15, when she swept to back-to-back titles.

“We are absolutely doing the best that we can with what we have,” Enders said. “It’s unfortunate that we are this far behind, but it’s just part of it. Our goal at this point is to finish the season with class and put a game plan together moving forward. We will get all of our ducks in a row and continue to work hard and things will swing back our way.”

Enders ripped off a .011-second reaction time in her first-round match with Jason Line, but the Pro Stock points leader was good, too, with a .009 light. Line then powered to the win light with a pass of 6.609 seconds at 209.43 mph while Enders made a run of 6.699 seconds at 206.35 mph.

Enders is 10th in the Pro Stock points standings, two races into the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Enders did enjoy the support of her fans in St. Louis, where she won in 2012 and 2013. As her team broke down their pit area at Gateway, Enders signed numerous autographs and spent time with fans, including a young Jr. Dragster driver who gave Enders her hero card.

“The fans are always great,” Enders said. “They continue to stand behind us through the adversity that we are facing and offer up words of encouragement, which is definitely good to hear from time to time.

“We’ll get back to where we belong. It’s just not in the cards for this season.”

‘No quit in this pit’ is battle cry for defending two-time world champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock | Mopar

ST. LOUIS, MO — A season ago, Pro Stock superstar Erica Enders was putting a stranglehold on her second straight Mello Yello world championship with a runner-up finish at the annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, which takes place again this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park. It was her fourth consecutive final-round showing and ninth of 11 she would amass during the year.

This year it’s a different story. Enders once again is part of the Countdown to the Championship, but this time she’s 10th in the 10-car field and coming off her first DNQ in six years.

“Same engine builders, same crew, same owner, just different results,” Enders said. “It’s been frustrating but at the same time we’ve learned a lot about ourselves as a group. The last few years we always said, ‘Teamwork makes the dream work,’ and it was so appropriate for the way things were going at the time.

“This year, as it’s gone along and we haven’t found the success we were expecting, our little saying has turned into, ‘No quit in this pit,’ and once again it’s absolutely true. You find out what people are really made of when things aren’t perfect. When you’re winning, it’s easy to jump on board. This year, character has been revealed, and this team of guys has more than any group I’ve ever come across.”

A switch to a new manufacturer has hampered Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar race team to a certain extent, and when you add in the biggest rule changes since the class’ inception more than three decades ago — most notably switching to electronic fuel injection — the group has struggled to find a new groove.

“Just like there’s no quit in this pit, there are no excuses either,” Enders said. “Other teams have figured out the fuel injection better than we have, so it can be done. We’ll get there ourselves; it’s just taking longer than we thought.

“Most of the guys on the team, aside from really important family stuff, haven’t taken a day off this whole year. No one is happy with our performance but no one has complained or quit the team to go somewhere else. I think I’m more proud of these guys this year than I have been the two years we won the championships. That’s saying a lot.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:45 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:45 and 4:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast qualifying action from 6-7 p.m., Friday. Eliminations will air live from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in CT).

Defending event champion Erica Enders returns to Charlotte in a vastly different role

ee-char162-pre

CHARLOTTE, NC — One year ago, Pro Stock racer Erica Enders arrived at the first race of NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs as the No. 1 seed, having won six regular-season national events, including the previous two stops in Brainerd, Minn., and Indianapolis.

This year, as Enders brings her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart back to zMax Dragway for the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, things are much different. Her dominating run to back-to-back championships hangs in the balance as she finds herself a distant ninth in the rankings with no victories on her 2016 scorecard.

“It’s been a challenging year, no doubt,” Enders said. “Very different from the last two years. Switching manufacturers and making this commitment with Mopar to put them on top, we kind of knew it would take a little time and it has. Then we had the biggest rule changes in class history. It all kind of added up.

“We started a little behind and it feels like we have been in catch-up mode all year. But we have made progress, and having another week at the shop to try more things should help us in Charlotte. There are reasons to be encouraged.”

Ever the optimist, Enders has found a way to put a positive spin on her lackluster regular season as her Elite Motorsports team has struggled to get the newly mandated fuel-injection systems to match their powerful Hemi motors.

“The word that keeps popping into my head is loyalty,” Enders said. “When we were crushing everyone, there was a line out the door of people wanting to talk to us. This year, we’ve found out who our real friends are, and it’s made me so grateful to the companies and individuals that are there for us through thick and thin.

“Mopar has been awesome. They want this as much as we do. Transportation Impact has been great, and they have more than 100 employees coming up from Emerald Island, N.C., this weekend to cheer us on. Mark Stockseth is a rock. Stan and Sheila Holt of Lupe Tortilla have been with me since I raced Jr. Dragsters; I love them. Kim and Steve Bruno with United Mechanical, everyone at Melling, Carl Foltz and his group at CFE, these are the people who are true supporters, and we love them all.

“Motivation for me is never a problem, but putting this select group back on top, that’s what drives us all. And like I say every weekend, I wouldn’t trade my guys for anyone. There’s no quit in this pit. I really am a lucky girl.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:15 and 5:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast qualifying action from 6 to 7 p.m., Friday, and 11 a.m. to noon, Sunday. Eliminations will air live from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

Rare mistake yields semifinal finish for Erica Enders at NHRA Finals

Erica Enders Pomona Finals 2015

POMONA, CA — Erica Enders didn’t become a two-time Pro Stock World Champion without being competitive, so one can understand why she was disappointed after falling in the semifinals of the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

An extraordinarily rare mistake cost Enders against Allen Johnson, ending her triumphant season with nine victories and the 2015 championship.

“I didn’t drive like I wanted to this afternoon, but our season was great,” Enders said. “The competitor in me is really mad that I screwed up. I am human and it’s the first time I’ve done so probably since the spring. I guess we’re all entitled, but at the same time I’m better than that.

“I hate it because we probably win the race if we get through that round. It’s just one of those deals. There’s nothing to hold our heads down about.”

Enders clinched the championship at the previous race, in Las Vegas, winning her second consecutive event and third in the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

But after beating Vieri Gaines and Larry Morgan on Sunday in Pomona, Enders had some issues on the starting line against Johnson. She decked the engine before Johnson was staged, and then after backing off and hitting the throttle again, Enders had a rare poor reaction time, .068-second. By comparison, she had an average light of .016-second in the playoffs.

Johnson got off the line with a .005 light, and his pass of 6.572 seconds at 209.17 mph was enough to hold off Enders’ quicker 6.542 at 212.43 mph.

“What happened on the starting line was really screwed up and was my fault,” Enders said. “I didn’t rise to the occasion. I hate it; I wanted to win 10 on the year. But what can you say? I had a career season. People in drag racing would give anything to have a season like I did.

“If you put everything in perspective and look at the big picture, it’s kind of hard to be mad about one race. I just know that I’m better than that.”

Still, Enders will celebrate with her Elite Motorsports team at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Awards Ceremony on Monday night at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.

“My guys were the first ones to pick me up,” Enders said. “We carry each other. We’ve had a lot of races where things didn’t go right setup-wise, and we’ve had a lot of races where the driver hasn’t been very good.

“But that’s where we’re different than everyone else. We stand by each other, we’re not critical, and we don’t pile on each other when the other messes up. That’s how we roll.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders gunning for 10th victory of 2015

Erica Enders Pomona 2015 Auto Club Finals

POMONA, CA — Erica Enders has already captured the biggest prize in the Pro Stock class of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: the 2015 championship. But the two-time series champion is far from finished with the season. Enders is a nine-time winner in 2015, meaning she already holds the record for most wins in a season by a woman, but she wants No. 10.

“I’m proud that we locked the championship up last weekend,” Enders said. “But I’m going into tomorrow with the mindset that I want to win No. 10 on the season. That is my job, that is my goal, and that is what I will do.”

Enders, who clinched the championship during her victory in Las Vegas, qualified No. 2 for the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Saturday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with a stellar pass of 6.503 seconds at 213.33 mph.

“That was our first decent run of the weekend,” Enders said. “Obviously, that’s nice to be able to go to sleep on Saturday night with that run. (No. 1 qualifier) Greg (Anderson) made a killer run and he had us by a hundredth in the 60-foot, and that’s what he outran us by. We know where we need to improve.”

Enders starts her pursuit of victory No. 10 on Sunday against V. Gaines, who qualified No. 15 with a top pass of 6.570 seconds at 211.63 mph.

“We have a great race-day setup,” Enders said. “That’s something my guys are excellent at, giving me a fast, consistent race car on Sunday. We’ve proven all year that’s what it takes to win, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Enders will also keep an eye on Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman, who qualified No. 4 and is on opposite sides of the ladder from her. Skillman, the leading contender for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award as the NHRA’s top rookie, is fourth in the points standings but has a shot at finishing second.

Enders is also looking to cap a spectacular Countdown to the Championship, in which she has won three of the five races in the playoffs, including two in a row. Plus, she has raced to the final in four of the five Countdown races.

Page 4 of 12« First...23456...10...Last »