Archive for the Elite Motorsports Category

Two-time Pro Stock champ Erica Enders dreams of a ‘white hat’ day in her home state

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock

DALLAS, TX — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders scratched a huge entry off her personal bucket list during her 2015 visit to Texas Motorplex when she won the annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, thereby completing a sweep of the races in her beloved home state of Texas.

As is tradition at the event, Enders was outfitted with a cowboy hat in the winner’s circle and she picked a black one for a very specific reason.

“We were bad hombres that year and that win in Dallas went a long way to locking up our second straight championship,” Enders said. “We were taking no prisoners and kicking a lot of butt and it seemed fitting that I put on a black hat that day.”

Should Enders return to the winner’s circle this time through, she has a different plan, one that once again would reflect her mood.

“You never know how we’d feel at the end of the day because it depends on the journey the day presents,” Enders said, “but if you asked me right now I’d say it would be a great feeling and one that would make everyone on this Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro race team pretty damn happy.

“If we’re lucky enough to win again, and I know we’re fully capable of making it happen, I’d probably ask for a white hat. It would be nice to be the good girl at the end of the day for once. We’re probably not in the title fight at this point so the next best thing is to win these last few races and move up as high as we can.”

Enders already won a race earlier this year in Epping, N.H., making her one of nine different Pro Stock drivers who have scored this season. She also was runner-up in Atlanta, Chicago and Seattle.

Aside from her victory at Texas Motorplex in 2015, the Houston native was runner-up at this facility in 2012.

“It’s always a big deal for me whenever we race in Texas,” Enders said. “No matter where my travels may take me, this is the place I love the most. Racing in my home state also means lots of extra support and family at the track, and that carries over to all the guys on the Elite team because we’re based in Wynnewood, Okla.

“We plan on testing more before the race so we’ll be fully prepared to get after it and try to win another hat, a white one.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:15 and 4:15 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.)

For second race in a row, points leader Bo Butner sends Erica Enders home

Erica Enders | 2017 NHRA St. Louis Pro Stock

ST. LOUIS, MO — They may be good friends off the track, but two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders is getting tired of meeting up with current points leader Bo Butner on race day.

For the second playoff race in a row, Butner eliminated Enders in the quarterfinal round of competition. This time it was at the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.

“We encountered an all-too-familiar issue against Bo — tire shake,” Enders said. “I did my best to drive through it but got it a little out there on the edge. I guess the positive out of it is I still have a racecar that’s not waded up.”

The race against Butner started equally but Enders’ Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro soon got wildly out of shape, forcing her to push in the clutch and surrender the run. Butner stayed under power and crossed with a 6.561 at 211.66 mph, well ahead of Enders’ 8.408 at 117.33 mph.

Earlier in the day, Enders sharply dismissed Allen Johnson with a wire-to-wire job that started with a .016-second head-start and ended with Enders posting a quicker 6.566 at 211.46 mph to Johnson’s 6.571 at 210.24 mph.

“Everything we do, we do together,” Enders said. “It’s not me driving or the guys tuning, it’s just one big team. They like to joke and say we win as a team and lose as a driver but that’s just to be funny. It really is a group effort.

“I have the best guys. I have won races on holeshots and I’ve won races because I had the faster car. They give me the best they can every time and I can assure you that every time I get in the seat I try to give them the best I have. At the end of the day we are all human and these cars are just very temperamental. They have a mind of their own and unfortunately today mine was in a bad mood.

“My teammate Lump (Brian Self) went to the semifinals, which was cool. He took out some tough competitors and it was a fun day for him. This was his first semifinal in NHRA competition so that was cool. Now we will all get to work on these cars and try to get them ready for Dallas.”

Enders next heads back to her home state of Texas for the 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, Oct. 13-15, at the Texas Motorplex south of Dallas.

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.)

Page 2 of 3712345...102030...Last »