Archive for the Elite Motorsports Category

With championship in reach, Erica Enders snares No. 1 spot in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS, NV — First things first.

Erica Enders, the 2014 NHRA Pro Stock world champion and current points leader, grabbed the No. 1 qualifying spot for the NHRA Toyota Nationals on Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

On Sunday, she can clinch her second consecutive championship.

Enders increased her points lead to 162 over the Pro Stock field by being quickest in all four rounds in Las Vegas. She needs to finish the race with a 151-point lead to wrap up the title.

“Tomorrow is going to take consistency,” Enders said. “I say it all the time: A to B, focus one round at a time. Every round is tough. There are no gimmes in Pro Stock. I know better than anybody that you can go from hero to zero really quickly.

“Las Vegas has been really great for me in the past, so I’m looking forward to continuing that trend tomorrow. We’re going to just do our best and see what happens. My goal is to not think about the championship, even though everyone keeps asking me about it. I want to win the race, and that is my first goal. Tomorrow is one round at a time.”

Drivers receive 20 points for each round victory, so Enders needs to match or exceed the performance of her closest competitors in the points race, Greg Anderson, Chris McGaha, Drew Skillman, Allen Johnson, etc.

Otherwise, Enders would take a sizable lead to the final race of the season, the Auto Club NHRA Finals Nov. 13-15 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomona, Calif.

But after earning her sixth No. 1 of the season and 18th of her career, Enders is focused on winning the race, too. She has won three national events in a row in Las Vegas, and counting the last two K&N Horsepower Challenge races, Enders has won 18 rounds in a row here.

That prowess continued into this weekend, as her track-record pass of 6.559 seconds at 210.28 mph earned her the No. 1 spot. That run was Friday, but she was also quick in the two qualifying sessions Saturday.

“We did have some great runs today,” Enders said. “Today’s conditions were a little bit different than yesterday’s. It was obviously warmer, so the track was warmer. We made two really nice, consistent passes just getting ready for tomorrow. It is going to be the warmest of the three but not much warmer than today.

“I’m excited that we were able to make those four consistent passes and fine-tune some things. I am confident going into tomorrow, and we’ll see what happens.”

Erica Enders smashes Las Vegas track records to earn provisional pole

Erica Enders Las Vegas 2015 Countdown

LAS VEGAS, NV — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports team aren’t trying to cruise to their second straight title, but they threw down a monster pass in the second qualifying session of the NHRA Toyota Nationals on Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to claim the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot.

The run, 6.559 seconds at 210.28 mph, set track records for elapsed time and speed and it was the fastest corrected run in Pro Stock history — taking into account altitude and other factors — at 6.381 seconds at 216.65 mph.

“I’m glad we were able to accomplish it,” Enders said. “Having said that, we’ve got two more important runs tomorrow. We need to scoop up all the qualifying bonus points we possibly can and try to stay on the pole. We need to go into Sunday with our heads down and get to work. We’ve got a lot to accomplish still, and I want to win the race. I want to make it four in a row. I couldn’t be more proud to be their driver; they’re an awesome group of men.”

Enders needs to leave Las Vegas with a 151-point lead to clinch the championship. She came into the race 154 points ahead, padding that by three based on qualifying points from the first two sessions.

Plus, she has been dominant in Las Vegas over the past two years, sweeping both national events in 2014 and winning here in April. To go along with those two victories, Enders has won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge here the last two years.

“I think we have 18 consecutive round-wins here, and the goal is to get to 22,” Enders said. “Having said that, we go back to taking things one at a time. My guys performed really well here, and my crew chiefs seem to have a good handle on this track and the dry air.

“Our race car is working. We stumbled onto some stuff in Dallas that we had been working really hard to figure out. As most people watched, they could see our performance change a little bit on Sunday. We certainly translated that to here. I’m excited and cautiously optimistic to be in the position we’re in.”

Enders has been quickest in both qualifying sessions this weekend, but her Q2 pass was the most impressive.

“We made a good run in the first session,” Enders said. “The weather (for Q2) was actually not as good as it was for the first session, so we really just stepped on it. I could not be more proud of my team. Our Elite Performance horsepower is really showing through right when we need it most. Pair that with our excellent teamwork, and my driving has been pretty decent lately. The sky is the limit for us.

“That run was pretty hateful. Of course, my guys got back to the computers in the trailer and were nit-picking, trying to be perfectionists about it. That’s what makes them as great as they are.”

Vegas is ‘just another race’ for championship front-runner Erica Enders

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Defending Pro Stock champion Erica Enders can clinch her second consecutive championship at the 15th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals. After all, she has a massive 154-point lead on her nearest rival in the standings and is riding an otherworldly winning streak of 18 straight rounds of competition at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, winning five successive races at the facility.

Yet the record-setting driver from Texas says this weekend’s race is no different than the first 22 this year, of which she has won eight, an all-time, high-water mark for female drivers.

“I’m treating this race like all the other ones; I want to do my very best to put this Elite Motorsports Camaro in the winner’s circle,” Enders said. “We have an awesome team with the best mechanics, engine builders, and crew chiefs in the world and we have a lot of confidence. To change the way we’ve been racing at this point would be crazy.”

Crazy indeed. Enders’ eight victories (Las Vegas 1, Houston, Topeka, Bristol, Brainerd, Indianapolis, Charlotte 2, and Dallas) lead all professional drivers, regardless of category. Her 52-14 race day record also blows away the entire professional field.

As for her good fortune at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens, has won three national events and two K&N Horsepower Pro Stock Challenges in her last three trips to the high desert.

“It’s no secret Las Vegas has been very, very good to us,” Enders said. “I love the track, and the fans that come to those races are already in a party mood being in Vegas, so the atmosphere is always very upbeat.

“Coming off a win in Dallas (Oct. 18), that also raises our level of confidence. We are carrying a lot of momentum at the right time. Last year was do-or-die every round when we came to Vegas. This time we have a little cushion in the points, but we know we’re not done racing. There is work to be done, and these guys are super hungry to get another championship.

“God has a plan for us and it takes a lot of stress off my shoulders knowing that my destiny has already been set. I just need to do what I can behind the wheel and then let God handle the rest.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:15 and 3:45 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Eliminations are scheduled to begin at noon, Sunday. All racing action will be shown on ESPN2.

Erica Enders bags NHRA-leading eighth win of the year, extends points lead

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DALLAS, TX — Erica Enders proved she’s the best drag racer in the country Sunday, beating her nearest two rivals in the Mello Yello points to power to a massive 154-point advantage with just two races left in the season. It was her NHRA-leading eighth win of the year, and first in Dallas.

“I am so glad we were able to get this eighth win here in my home state,” said Enders, who grew up in the Houston suburbs. “You know, I have been talking about a cowboy hat for months, just waiting to come here and win a cowboy hat, so I’m excited to be able to get that done in front of all of our friends and family. It’s just a huge blessing.”

A cowboy hat is the traditional winner’s gift at the Texas Motorplex, a complex owned by former Funny Car driver Billy Meyer. This year, the winner’s also got a belt buckle to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the event.

As usual, Enders was a demon behind the wheel, taking out Vieri Gaines in Round 1 to set up a big match up with bitter rival Chris McGaha, who is third in the points. Helping the cause, McGaha had beaten second-ranked Greg Anderson in his opening race.

“Those first two rounds were very significant,” Enders said. “First round, we watched (McGaha) beat Greg right in front of us and then we crushed his ET by .400s to earn lane choice in our race against him. We didn’t want to give him anything.

“There is a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t know about and (McGaha’s) team has been running their mouths. I said from the beginning we’ll let the scoreboard do the talking. There’s no need to argue with ignorant people, so when I went up there and he double-bulbed me, I said ‘bring it on, I don’t care,’ and I was able to drill him with a .008-second reaction time and then totally out-run him. I think we sent a big message. I definitely wanted to beat him, and my guys wanted to beat him even more so that was a nice deal for us.”

There was no looking back from there as Drew Skillman and Jonathon Gray fell in order to give Enders the victory and the big edge in the standings.

“We just have such great team chemistry and great horsepower so I’m a happy girl,” Enders said. “(ESPN top-end reporter) Gary Gerould said in our interview, that we have an eight-round lead with only eight rounds of racing left, and that’s really cool, but I don’t care. I want all the points that we can get.

“We go into every race wanting to win more than anything in the world and we do our best to step up to the plate. You know, I talk about my guys all of the time but I’ll put my money on them every single Sunday, every single round of qualifying, because they are the best. They bring it and I bring it and together I think the sky is the limit for us.”

Points leader Erica Enders now has destiny in her hands at crucial Dallas race


DALLAS, TX — Race day at the 30th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals could very well go down as the one that decides the Pro Stock championship with the top three drivers in the Mello Yello points stacked up for early head-to-head battles when eliminations begin Sunday at Texas Motorplex.

Current points leader and reigning NHRA champion Erica Enders has a slight advantage in her Elite Motorsports Camaro as she outqualified both second-ranked driver Greg Anderson and third-place Chris McGaha, who won the last race in Reading, Pa.

Adding a huge dose of intrigue, Anderson and McGaha are slotted to face one another in the opening round, with Enders getting the winner of that head-to-head match should she manage to beat Vieri Gaines in her Round 1 race. The end result is that only one of the three top drivers in the points has a chance to reach the semifinals.

“Wow, it’s crazy the way the elimination ladder worked out,” Enders said. “Greg and Chris facing each other right off is a huge race. Greg outqualified him (6.484 to 6.518) but Chris did win Reading, so he could score an upset.

“We just need to take care of business against V., which will not be easy, and we need to win with a good-enough elapsed time to try and maintain lane choice for the winner of Greg and Chris’ race. It’s a ton of pressure, but we work best under pressure, and I think our track record proves that point.”

Enders, who tops the NHRA charts with seven victories this year, had a best pass of 6.480 at 213.47 mph, which slotted her fourth overall, a few ticks behind her teammate Drew Skillman, who took the pole with a 6.471. In Round 1, she will enjoy lane choice over Gaines, who had a best pass of 6.543 at 209.39 mph. Enders is 4-0 versus Gaines this season.

“V. is my buddy and a true gentleman racer,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens. “But I’ll tell you what, when he’s at the line, he’s going for the win every time. He’s a very tough draw.

“We’ll go into race day like we do every weekend: with a desire to be the quickest and the fastest car on the property. We’ll double- and triple-check everything on the car and we’ll be ready for whatever happens. The guys know what’s a stake here. This is a team full of champions.”

Enders entered the weekend 72 points ahead of Anderson and 104 points up on McGaha. Each round won on race day is worth 20 points.

“It’s not a total do-or-die race because we’ve got a little cushion in the standings and we’ve still got Las Vegas and Pomona on the schedule,” Enders said, “but we could sure make it tough on them if we can turn on the win light four times tomorrow. We need to take care of business and I need to do my job behind the wheel. I love it; having our fate in our hands is what we want.”

Texas girl Erica Enders wants another big win in her home state

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DALLAS, TX — Erica Enders is known as the reigning Pro Stock world champion. She’s also referred to as the points leader and odds-on favorite to win this year’s title, having led the standings for the last four races. She’s the most prolific female racer in class history and recently passed legend Shirley Muldowney for number of national event victories on the all-time list.

The bottom line is Enders can answer to a lot of different titles, but the one she relishes the most is a simple one: Texan.

Born and raised in Houston, Enders attended Texas A&M before chasing her drag racing dream full-time. The decorated driver of the Elite Motorsports Camaro often wears Texas-themed clothing and jewelry and always greets fellow Lone Star State inhabitants with a broad smile, no matter where in the world she might be.

It’s no wonder she’s so anxious to win this weekend’s AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, a racetrack at which she has competed since she was 8 years old.

“It’s time to get a pro win up there,” Enders said. “This would be the perfect season to get it done because we already won the Houston race in April, so we could sweep the Texas races. That would mean a lot to me, being a Texas girl and all.”

Enders certainly has the horsepower to get the job done. She has won an NHRA-leading and personal-best seven national events this year, including at three of the last five stops on tour, and has a comfortable three-and-a-half-round lead over her nearest rival in the Mello Yello championship points with just three races left in the season.

She has been the No. 1 qualifier five times, had the quickest car on the property six times, and posted top speed at three different meets.

“It’s all about this incredible team that (owner) Richard Freeman has put together,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens. “The guys in the Elite pit are the best in the business. I’m just the lucky girl that gets to drive the car and do the interviews on TV.

“Being a Texas girl, I do take a lot of pride in my work ethic, and having a fast hot rod makes me work even harder to be perfect whenever I climb into the car and put on my helmet. It’s always a lot of pressure, but over the years I’ve figured out how to thrive off of that pressure. I actually drive better when the stakes are highest, and as much as we want to win this race and put more points on the board, I’ll be feeling it for sure.

“We’ve made a few real good runs at the Dallas trophy before but never with a car like this one. We’re ready to get it done.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:45 and 5:45 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are scheduled to begin at noon, Sunday. All racing action will be shown on ESPN2.

Near-perfect reaction by Erica Enders not enough in Reading quarterfinals

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READING, PA — For the first time in two months, reigning Pro Stock champion and current points leader Erica Enders will not reach the final round of an NHRA national event in her Elite Motorsports Camaro. Enders, the wife of fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens, fell in the second round to Bo Butner Sunday at Maple Grove Raceway when her engine expired, squandering a near-perfect .004-second reaction time.

“When it’s not your day, it’s just not your day,” said Enders, who has three wins and a runner-up in the last four races. “There’s nothing you can do about it. This whole weekend has been goofy with all the rain and only getting one qualifying session. Then we switched to a new motor this morning and hurt it against Kenny (Delco, first-round opponent). The guys thrashed to change it out and then we blew that one up big time against Bo.

“No one did anything wrong. My driving was good (.044-second advantage in Round 1 and .025 in Round 2) both rounds and the guys did everything they normally do. We just had some bad breaks.”

Enders entered the weekend a massive 113 points ahead of Greg Anderson, and even if Anderson goes on to win this race, the NHRA Keystone Nationals, she’ll still have a nice cushion atop the rankings.

“That’s a blessing,” Enders said of her lead. “We raced hard to get that lead, beating everyone straight up to earn those points, and we really wanted to add to it here. That obviously isn’t going to happen, but we’ll hold our heads high and move on to the next event and do what we’ve done all year.”

The NHRA tour takes next weekend off before heading to Texas Motorplex near Dallas in Enders’ home state of Texas. That race takes place Oct. 16-18.

“It’s a home race basically for me and for the guys from Elite,” Enders said. “I was born and raised in Houston and the Elite shop is in Oklahoma, so this is like meeting in the middle of where we’re all from. We always have fun in Dallas because being so close to all of our homes we have lots of friends and family come and support us.

“I think we’re all excited to have a weekend off, too. It’s a grind when you’re going hard every weekend, plus the break will give us time to go through the cars front to back and get these engines freshened up.

“We’ll come back stronger than ever and try to sweep the last three races and just put this thing away. It’s a fun time and we’re all enjoying the ride.”

Reigning champ and current points leader Erica Enders staying afloat in Reading

READING, PA — Two days of intermittent rain washed out three of the four scheduled qualifying sessions of the NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, but reigning series champ and current Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates were ready for the lone run they were afforded, qualifying sixth with a safe 6.537-second pass at 213.13 mph.

“It’s always nerve-racking going down a track when the surface temperature is 60 degrees, it’s really cold and damp and the dew point is way up there, but that’s where my guys really show how great they are,” Enders said. “We just went up there and made a very, very conservative run because we really didn’t know at that point if we’d get another session in or if it would start raining again.

“We played it safe and although the car kinda moved around a little bit and the tires were spinning, we got in the top half of the field, which is really what you want. Obviously, the e.t. we posted by no means shows our hand, so I’m really excited for tomorrow.”

Enders has been to four final rounds in a row, winning three races in a row before settling for runner-up against her teammate Drew Skillman last weekend in St. Louis. She entered the weekend 113 points ahead of her closest rival in the points, which equates to almost six rounds of elimination racing. There are only 16 rounds left in the season, so a big race day here could make it very tough on the other contenders.

“It’s been one of those weekends when we just wait and wait and wait,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens. “Honestly, it’s more exhausting doing nothing than when you’re busy. They say tomorrow is supposed to look better weather-wise and we’re all excited about that for sure. Once again I’m on the opposite side of the ladder from Drew, so we will just see if we can go to work tomorrow, repeat what happened in St. Louis, and spread the gap on everyone else.”

As the No. 6 qualifier, Enders will open elimination action with lane choice over part-time racer Kenny Delco, who posted a 6.606 at 207.15 mph in his lone trip down Maple Grove.

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m., with ESPN2 carrying all the action Sunday evening.

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