Archive for the Countdown Category

Charlotte No. 1 Qualifier Enders-Stevens will Continue Title Pursuit in Dallas

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CHARLOTTE (Sept. 14) — The Pep Boys NHRA Carolinas Nationals was postponed Sunday because of rain and deteriorating track conditions at zMax Dragway. The race will be completed during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals next weekend at Texas Motorplex.

No. 1 qualifier Erica Enders-Stevens and her Mach 1 Chevrolet will face No. 16 John Gaydosh when the Charlotte race is resumed.

Top Fuel and Funny Car classes completed their first round of eliminations Sunday, but racing was halted during round one of Pro Stock after driver Vieri Gaines crashed. Pro Stock teams returned to their pit area, and Pro Stock Motorcycle teams followed suit.

Rain later began to fall, and NHRA officials announced that racing was done for the day. The decision was later made to complete the event in Dallas. The updated Dallas schedule will be released at a later date.

Pro Stock’s Enders-Stevens Earns Provisional No. 1 Spot after Friday Qualifying in Charlotte

Erica Enders-Stevens is provisionally qualified number 1 after Friday's rounds at zMAX Dragway

CHARLOTTE, NC (Sept. 12) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens doesn’t believe in any No. 1 qualifying jinx.

The provisional No. 1 for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, Enders-Stevens is the only driver in 2014 to win from the No. 1 qualifying spot, so she relishes the chance to get her first pole position in Charlotte.

“It’s only Friday, but it’s really cool to be on top,” Enders-Stevens said. “Those baby points these last six races are going to matter now more than ever. As many as we can rack up will be great. It’s a good start to what’s hopefully a wonderful weekend.”

Enders-Stevens, who won from the No. 1 spot in Norwalk, Ohio, in July, was quickest in both qualifying sessions, earning three bonus points for each. Points leader Jason Line garnered one bonus point Friday, so Enders-Stevens sliced his unofficial lead to 25 points in the battle for the championship.

The Countdown to the Championship begins this weekend, and Enders-Stevens sits second in the Pro Stock standings.

“Baby points, the points you’re awarded for being low for each qualifying session, are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were able to acquire six of those today, so we gained five on Jason.

“It’s a really good start. I’m proud of my team. We struggled the last couple races, in Brainerd (Minn.) and Indianapolis, and at our test session in St. Louis. It’s very refreshing to see Old Red is back to herself.”

Her Chevrolet Camaro made a top pass of 6.591 seconds at 210.11 mph that puts her atop the Pro Stock field.

“We’ve tried hard not to change our mindset at all,” Enders-Stevens said. “We just need to focus on the task at hand — and that’s one round at a time, day by day — and not get too focused on the big picture at the end of the season. We’ve just got to do our job, day in and day out, and make every little point count.

“We had a team meeting this morning where we discussed our goals for the Countdown. It’s the small steps on the way to the big goal.”

Champion Chase on Enders-Stevens’ Mind as Countdown Begins

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CHARLOTTE (Sept. 10) — Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens has had her best season as a professional in 2014, but she’s far from being satisfied.

As the Countdown to the Championship begins with the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals this weekend at zMax Dragway, Enders-Stevens has her sights set on the Pro Stock championship with her red Chevrolet Camaro.

“I’m stoked,” Enders-Stevens said. “We made big strides in the right direction at Indy, and we’ve got ‘Ol Red back. She’s acting right again, and that’s encouraging heading into the Countdown and starting this four-race swing.”

Charlotte not only kicks off the Countdown, it’s the start of a string of races on four consecutive weekends. A stumble in the first race of the playoffs could be detrimental to any title contender’s hopes.

“We’ve got to start out on the right foot,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to have all our ducks in a row as soon as we walk in the gate. We’ve got to stay ahead of the game. It’s very important to start out on the right foot.”

Enders-Stevens has performed well in Charlotte, reaching the final round of the Four-Wide Nationals three years in a row, narrowly missing out on victory.

“We’ve done really well in Charlotte in the past,” Enders-Stevens said. “We love Charlotte. I lived there for a while. It’s a familiar place, and we’ve done a lot of testing at the facility. Bruton Smith has done a fantastic job and it’s a state-of-the-art racetrack.”

Enders-Stevens has won four times this season and led the Pro Stock standings 13 weeks in a row. She’s currently in second place, and after the points were reset following Indianapolis, she’s 30 markers out of the lead.

“There are only 24 rounds of racing left,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to do our job. At this point, I rely a lot on my faith. I know there’s a bigger plan, and we’re not going to get stressed out. We’re going to continue to have fun and do the best we can do and see what happens.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:45 and 3 p.m., Friday, and 1 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens is the No. 2 Seed for Countdown after U.S. Nationals

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INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1) — A Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory may have slipped through Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens’ fingers, but she still leaves Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on Monday very proud.

Enders-Stevens dropped a second-round match to Dave Connolly, but she will be the No. 2 seed when the Countdown to the Championship begins in two weeks at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, NC.

“Even though we didn’t win the U.S. Nationals, and that was our goal, we can leave here with our heads held high,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got a good car and the best team in the sport. It would’ve been nice to win here, but it starts to matter at the next event.”

Enders-Stevens has had a dream season, winning four national events and the K&N Horsepower Challenge. She led the points standings for 13 races before slipping to second in Brainerd, MN.

“I think we’re going to go in the No. 2 spot,” Enders-Stevens said. “Obviously our goal is to go in as the No. 1 seed, but it’s not detrimental to what the outcome’s going to be.”

Enders-Stevens started her 2014 U.S. Nationals with a race against her husband Richie Stevens, who joined Elite Motorsports for this race and beyond. She got the jump on Stevens with a .022-second reaction time and led the entire race, winning with a pass of 6.619 seconds at 208.52 mph. Stevens’ pass was 6.643 seconds at 208.52 mph.

“That’s my job,” Enders-Stevens said. “I have to put aside who’s in the other lane and just execute. That’s what we did first round and we did it second round, too, but it just didn’t end up being our day. We didn’t have lane choice and we struggled over there.

“I hate that Richie lost. I’m glad that we won but it’s bittersweet. I’m stoked that we picked up 20 points, but at the same time I hate that Richie’s debut wasn’t what any of us at Elite Motorsports had planned for it to be. But our job is to win rounds, despite who’s over there.”

In the second round, Enders-Stevens made a pass of 6.622 seconds at 208.88 mph but couldn’t get around Connolly, whose run was 6.613 seconds at 207.82 mph.

Enders-Stevens and her team made improvements throughout the weekend, giving her confidence for Charlotte and the Countdown.

“I’m really proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have so much heart. It would have been easy to get frustrated, get negative, and give up when things weren’t going as we had planned them to go when we got here.

“We spent a few days testing in St. Louis to get our cars — mine and Richie’s and Shane (Tucker’s) — sorted out. It didn’t go as planned when we stepped foot on the property here, but they dug deep and we ended up being second-quickest of the runs in eliminations. Even the round we lost, we were the quickest in that lane by a couple of hundredths, so that says a lot about my crew chiefs and my entire team.”

Enders-Stevens Ready to Get No. 1 Spot Back at U.S. Nationals

Enders-Stevens Ready to Get Back Number 1 Spot in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 26) — Engines Inc. driver Erica Enders-Stevens is ready to reclaim her spot atop the Pro Stock points standings during the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Enders-Stevens led the Pro Stock standings for 13 of the 17 races to date, but a parts failure during the first round in Brainerd, Minn., caused her to drop to second.

Indy marks the final race before the Countdown to the Championship, and Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team are looking at the big picture: the Pro Stock championship.

“It’s how we finish the season that’s going to be important,” Enders-Stevens said. “Indy obviously is the most prestigious race of the year, the Super Bowl of drag racing, so I’m very hopeful to go out there and just have a really great weekend and get our No. 1 spot back from Jason Line to go into that No. 1 seed into the Countdown in Charlotte.

“I don’t believe any woman in a professional category has ever gone into the playoffs in the No. 1 position so far. It’s certainly at the top of our list of goals, but it’s not detrimental if it doesn’t happen. We’ll just have to start out swinging in Charlotte as hard as we can and go from there and remain positive and continue to have fun as a team. I’m very optimistic of what we’ll be able to accomplish.”

Enders-Stevens has had a stellar season, winning four national events and the special K&N Horsepower Challenge. She has qualified No. 1 twice and third or better in 14 of her 15 races.

“My mindset is going to be the same as it has been all year,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m extremely blessed to be in the position I am in, with a great team at Elite Motorsports standing behind me. It’s been a dream season up to this point, and we’re hopeful to carry that momentum and that confidence through the end of the year. I’m very optimistic about what’s to come.”

Enders-Stevens did not race at Indy in 2013 but reached the final round in 2012. She fully appreciates the prestige of the U.S. Nationals.

“It’s just got so much history,” Enders-Stevens said. “As a kid, I grew up watching all of the legends that I looked up to — Shirley Muldowney and Bob Glidden and the ones after them — and it’s just been one of those races and one of those facilities that’s so awesome and holds so much history. NHRA held the first Jr. Drag Racing League National Championship there in 1994, and I was part of that.

“In 2001 we got down to three cars out of 174 in Super Comp and then in 2012 we were runner-up in Pro Stock as well, so I feel like I’ve got a lot of unfinished business there and I’m hopeful we can get it done this year.

“It’s just an awesome facility and it gives you goose bumps when you walk in the gate there. It’s one of those deals that’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there and experienced it yourself.”

Championship Leader Enders-Stevens Gains Title Support of Mach 1 Global Services

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TEMPE, Ariz. (Aug. 7) — Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens will challenge for the 2014 NHRA championship with Mach 1 Global Services on the side of her powerful Elite Motorsports Camaro. The global logistics company, which has supported Enders-Stevens in the past, signed on as title sponsor for the remainder of the season, beginning with the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals in Dallas. Geiger Media Global brokered the deal.

“We’re so excited to reunite with Erica,” CEO Jamie Fletcher said. “We’ve certainly kept up with her career since we first started supporting her in 2008, and we’re definitely impressed with the season she’s putting together.

“Being a woman in a male-dominated industry, Erica and I share a special bond because we’ve faced many of the same obstacles in our respective careers. She’s been a real inspiration to so many young women, and to see her in the winner’s circle so many times since we’ve met always serves as personal motivation for me.”

Mach 1 Global Services, Inc.

Using Elite Performance horsepower, Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock class with four victories this season, also winning the non-points K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas. She has collected at least one round-win at every race and has led the points standings after 12 of 16 national events. She’s currently 32 points ahead of Allen Johnson with two regular-season races left on the schedule.

The Houston native’s victory on July 6 in Norwalk, Ohio, was the 10th of her career, making her only the third female to post double-digit national event victories in NHRA history (along with three-time series champions Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney). She’s the most successful woman in Pro Stock class history with 10 career victories, eight No. 1 qualifiers, and 144 elimination round-wins. She is the only female to have won or been the top qualifier in Pro Stock.

“Jamie and her dad (Mike Entzminger) are like family to me,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s been neat to see Jamie take Mach 1 Global Services over since we partnered with them in the past and succeed the way she has in a really tough industry. They will fit in great with Richard (Freeman, owner of Elite Motorsports) and the rest of the team.

“There’s some real synergy having a female-owned business supporting a female driver. I think it’s something special and really something we should be proud of.

“Our hope is that we win the championship together with Mach 1 on the doors. We also want to make sure we bring as much attention as possible to their services and help them grow along with us. The best way to do that is to keep winning. We have some work to do before the Countdown starts and then we’re going all-out to win the title.”

Mach 1 is a global provider of transportation and logistics solutions. They offer a full portfolio of integrated freight forwarding services via air, ocean, and ground to all major destinations and ports worldwide. Mach 1 is a licensed U.S. customs broker with more than 26 years of industry experience and has 30 company-owned offices in the U.S., Mexico, China, and India, along with best-in-class strategic partnerships around the globe.

Elite Motorsports offers a wide variety of semi transporters, motor coaches, gooseneck and stacker trailers, specialty hospitality and point-of-sale units, and new and used high-performance engines, race cars, and racing equipment.

Enders-Stevens returns to action August 15-17 at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota.

First-round loss won’t diminish Enders-Stevens’ solid season

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POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 10) – A first-round loss in the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Sunday at Auto Club Raceway won’t diminish the accomplishments of Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Enders-Stevens finished sixth in the Pro Stock points standings after a season in which she missed six races with her Cagnazzi Racing team because of sponsorship issues. With a partnership with Husky Liners, Enders-Stevens returned for the six-race Countdown to the Championship, winning in St. Louis and moving as high as fourth in points.

“I was blessed to be able to make the Countdown and finish the year,” said Enders-Stevens, who won two races in 2013. “It certainly wasn’t an ideal situation by any means, but we did the best we could with what we had. It’s a cruel world out here, but I’m remaining positive and optimistic through all of the hard times. That’s important to do, and I can only hope next year will be better.”

Enders-Stevens goes into the off-season on a positive note after enjoying a fun weekend in Pomona. She appeared on KTLA 5 Morning News on Friday, followed by an appearance at the Night of Champions at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum on Friday night.

“I love coming to Pomona,” Enders-Stevens said. “I love the raw history of this sport and this racetrack, and the fact that my Jr. Dragster is here in the museum is an honor for me and my family. I really enjoy being in Southern California at this race.”

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 8 and was the first pair out in her matchup with Shane Gray. Gray made a pass of 6.586 seconds at 211.03 mph while Enders-Stevens’ run was 6.595 at 211.59 mph, as Gray got the win.

“It shook and took a hard turn right,” Enders-Stevens said of her launch. “I did what I could with what I had, but when the car is out of control and gets away like that, as driver, it’s a challenge. I probably should’ve shoved the clutch in and aborted the run, but I wanted that round-win more than almost any round-win in my career. God had a different plan, and I trust in it.”

Enders-Stevens determined to end season on a positive note

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POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – A determined Erica Enders-Stevens is fired up for the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway after qualifying her Husky Liners Camaro in the No. 8 spot on Saturday.

Enders-Stevens made a top pass of 6.557 seconds at 211.43 mph in the third qualifying session and will line up against future teammate Shane Gray in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Cagnazzi Racing recently announced a merger with Gray Motorsports for 2014, though the two teams have already begun working together.

“The car is running consistent,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s not flying but it’s consistent. We’re going to have a long, hard day cut out for us tomorrow. It’s the last race day of the year. Tomorrow’s going to be a tough day for me, both on the track and off the track.”

Enders-Stevens’ future is uncertain, pending sponsorship for next season, but that uncertainty has made her more determined than ever to put in a good showing on Sunday.

“I am determined,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m determined because my future is uncertain, and I’ve got a lot to prove tomorrow.”

Gray, who qualified No. 9 with a pass of 6.567 seconds at 211.33 mph, moved ahead of Enders-Stevens in the Pro Stock points standings after his victory in Las Vegas, but she could still finish as high as second with a good Sunday.

“We’re going to practice what we preach and remain positive and optimistic about race day,” Enders-Stevens said. “First round with Shane Gray is crucial. I need to get my ground back. We’ll do our best tomorrow and see what happens.”

Pomona is one of Enders-Stevens’ favorite tracks, and she has enjoyed a fun weekend so far. On Friday night, she participated in the Night of Champions at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, spending quality time with drag racing legends Tommy Ivo and Bob Muravez.

“It’s been a good weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “Good friends, good wine, good racing. I got to see the museum and pay my Jr. Dragster a visit. I got to hang out with some legends last night and that was exciting. It’s been a fun weekend, and I’m trying to soak it all in.

“This is one of the only tracks where Pro Stock gets to come back down the return road in front of the stands, so I’ve been trying to soak all that in. I know how quickly it can all disappear. It’s been a good weekend so far.”

Eliminations at the NHRA Finals get under way at 11 a.m. PST on Sunday. ESPN2 will air eliminations starting at 7 p.m. EST.

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