Archive for the Elite Motorsports Category

Erica Enders extends points lead with brilliant performance in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, MO — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders fell short of her fourth consecutive victory, but she still extended her Pro Stock points lead with a runner-up finish at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Enders continued to put on a brilliant driving display at Gateway. She became the first driver in NHRA history to win three consecutive finals on holeshots when she won in Charlotte last weekend and then left first on all four opponents this Sunday, including reaction times of .002, .002, and .003 in her last three rounds.

“I’m super comfortable in the car,” Enders said. “I know what I’m capable of, I know what my guys are capable of, and that gives me peace of mind. I’m able to go out there and do my job. We’re going to leave with our heads held high, go to Reading, and try to continue to spread the points on those KB boys.”

By racing to the final round, Enders extended her points lead to 113 over KB Racing driver Greg Anderson, who lost in the second round.

“It was a great points day,” Enders said. “The competitor side of us allows us to be frustrated when we don’t win, but we’ll go back and go through our notes, and one of us will stay and test tomorrow. It’s a great day. A.J. helped us a lot by beating Greg second round, and I was able to put another 40-point spread on him.

“That’s all that matters. We’ve got to keep pace. I really wanted to win four in a row and have eight for the season and have those records, but God has a bigger plan, and I’m OK with that. We’ve got our eye on the big prize.”

Enders began her day by blitzing Alex Laughlin with a pass of 6.586 seconds at 210.87 mph, but crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll made improvements on her Transportation Impact Camaro. Against Elite teammate Vincent Nobile, Enders had a .002 light and made a pass of 6.620 seconds at 211.66 mph to get the win.

Another .002 light gave her a jump on semifinal opponent Bo Butner, who made the quicker pass, a 6.520 at 212.43 mph, but Enders’ 6.524-second pass at 212.06 mph was enough to hold him off.

In the final, Enders had an .003 light, but her car went into immediate tire shake, and all she could do was watch teammate Drew Skillman get his first career victory with a pass of 6.529 at 211.63 mph.

“Of course we want to win, but today was Drew’s day,” Enders said. “It was just meant to be for him. If I have to lose, I’m glad it’s to my teammate, so we’re still able to share the winner’s circle under the Elite Motorsports banner.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders chases fourth straight win from No. 3 spot

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ST. LOUIS, MO — NHRA Pro Stock World Champion and currents points leader Erica Enders will be gunning for her fourth consecutive victory when she begins eliminations at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park from the No. 3 position Sunday.

Enders, driving the Elite Motorsports/Transportation Impact Chevrolet, will also be chasing her third victory in her last four races at Gateway, having won here in 2012 and 2013.

“We’ve got a consistent race car,” Enders said. “I’m really proud of my guys. It’s easy to not be slightly disappointed when you’re not on top but know what you are capable of, but at the same time, we’re third and we’re going into Sunday with a four-round points lead. Plus, I’m on opposite sides of the ladder from my teammate Drew (Skillman). I’m hopeful for a really long Sunday.”

Enders came to Gateway with an 83-point lead after winning the first race of the Countdown to the Championship last weekend in Charlotte. Greg Anderson accumulated eight more bonus points through qualifying, but Enders has still been very fast here. Her best pass was 6.508 seconds at 212.13 mph to qualify fourth or better for the 16th time in 20 races. The previous 15 times she has qualified fourth or better in 2015, she has scored seven victories, raced to eight finals, and reached 13 semifinals.

“We didn’t accumulate the bonus points that we would’ve liked this weekend,” Enders said. “But we’ll take those 20-point swings for winning a round. I’m optimistic going into Sunday. I know that my consistent race car is more than capable of being driven to the winner’s circle.

“Sometimes Sunday is about survival of the fittest, not the fastest. That’s what we’ve been blessed to be able to accomplish the last couple of weeks.”

Enders set an NHRA record by winning three consecutive final rounds on holeshots — in Brainerd, Minn., Indianapolis, and Charlotte — but she brushed aside the accomplishment.

“For starters, that’s my job,” Enders said. “I don’t know what all the hoopla is about. But we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of really cool firsts, and that’s another one to add to the book. The way I look at it is as long as that win light comes on, I don’t care how we get it.”

Enders begins her race at Gateway against Alex Laughlin, who qualified No. 14 with a top lap of 6.561 seconds at 211.63 mph.

Pro Stock champ, points leader Erica Enders heads to St. Louis with formidable momentum, new sponsor

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ST. LOUIS, MO — Erica Enders arrives at Gateway Motorsports Park for this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on a three-race winning streak that has her 83 points ahead of her nearest rival in a quest to win consecutive Pro Stock world championships.

In addition, the driver of Elite Motorsports’ crimson cannonball, which will sport new sponsorship from Transportation Impact, doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Enders is on a roll, having just passed legend and friend Shirley Muldowney’s career win total with her 19th victory last Sunday in Charlotte.

“It’s definitely a good point in the year to have momentum,” Enders said. “I’ve always said we create our own momentum, and it’s a great confidence-booster for everyone on the team. We’re one race into three consecutive events for the start of the Countdown to the Championship, and we couldn’t be doing any better. We were able to begin the Countdown with the No. 1 ranking and hold strong in Charlotte and win the race, so we definitely have a little bit of a lead.

“Passing Shirley was too much to even wrap my head around. She was the person I wanted to be when I grew up and to see her name next to mine is surreal. And then she was one of the first people to call me and say, ‘Good job.’ It’s very special and means more to me than you’ll ever know.”

As for this weekend, Enders already knows the way to Gateway’s victory platform, having visited it twice before. Now she’s hoping for another return to pad her lead that much more.

“I’ve never been shy to say St. Louis is one of my favorite tracks,” Enders said. “I had some success there in the Sportsman days and got my only Countdown win in 2013 there. It’s just an exciting, fun place to race. We recently tested there before Indy, so we got some good data for that facility. I’m excited to go back, especially off the successful three weeks we’ve had.”

Just one day after winning at zMax Dragway for the very first time, Enders and her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro team proudly announced a major associate sponsorship agreement with Transportation Impact, a privately-held logistics company that specializes in helping some of the largest companies in the world drastically reduce their shipping costs.

Enders will be celebrating a birthday shortly after the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, and she plans to blow out everyone else’s candles on Sunday before extinguishing hers on Oct. 8.

“I’m very optimistic and excited about what’s to come,” Enders said. “I’m hopeful we can carry our momentum to St. Louis.”

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 are scheduled to begin at noon on Sunday.

Transportation Impact announces support of surging Pro Stock champ Erica Enders

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EMERALD ISLE, NC — Just one day after kicking off the 2015 Countdown to the Championship with a convincing victory at the NHRA Carolina Nationals, reigning Pro Stock world champion and points leader Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports race team have announced a major associate sponsorship deal with Transportation Impact.

The privately-held logistics company specializes in helping some of the largest companies in the world drastically reduce their shipping costs. Transportation Impact, an Inc. 5000 company based in North Carolina, was founded in 2008 by Keith Byrd and Travis Burt and has quickly earned a reputation as one of the top small-package negotiation and parcel-auditing firms in the shipping industry.

“We are excited to team up with Erica and the Elite Motorsports team,” Transportation Impact Co-Founder Travis Burt said. “Both our team and theirs have a championship mentality. We both work hard each day to be better than we were yesterday, and we at Transportation Impact have little doubt that this partnership will help both sides reach new heights.”

Elite Motorsports owner Richard Freeman, who spearheaded Enders’ ascension to becoming the first female champion in Pro Stock history, is thrilled to sign a long-term deal with Transportation Impact that he believes will help his team achieve its future objectives.

“I’m humbled and grateful that everyone at Transportation Impact thought enough of what we’re doing to come on board and give us some tremendous support,” Freeman said. “Since Erica joined us a year and a half ago, we’ve won the championship, we’ve won 13 national events, including the last three in a row, been No. 1 qualifier 11 times, and put up an 89-28 race day record. That’s better than anyone in the sport and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished.

“At the same time, we feel like we want to do so much more, and having companies like Transportation Impact lend support will help us reach all of our long-range goals. We are firing this deal up right now so they can ride with us to what we hope will be a successful championship defense.”

Enders admits she’s riding high at the moment, and having a new sponsor recognize the team’s potential adds a lot to her current situation, on many levels.

“It’s been an incredible month and having Transportation Impact come on board today just makes it that much better,” she said. “We scored a really big win in Brainerd (Minn.), and that kind of set up this run we’re on. Then we get to Indy, the biggest race in our sport, and we get another win that ties me with my No. 1 idol, Shirley Muldowney, with 18 career wins. Now we come to North Carolina and get another win to kick off the playoffs and sign an incredible new marketing partner. I need to pinch myself.

“I’m so blessed to be driving this car and to have such an awesome group of people behind me making it happen, and that now includes everyone at Transportation Impact. We spent some time at their facility, and I told everyone we met we’re going to do everything we can to get them a championship this year.”

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Standing, from left, are Berkley Stafford, Vice President of Sales; John Howard, Vice President of Operations; Travis Burt, Principal Partner/Co-Founder; Doug Starcke, Managing Partner; and Pete Merkel, Inertia Sports Marketing. Seated, from left, are Keith Byrd, Principal Partner/Co-Founder; Richard Freeman, Owner, Elite Motorsports; Erica Enders; and Harper Lee, Corporate Sales.

Erica Enders makes more history by winning in Charlotte for first time

Erica Enders wins Charlotte 2015

CHARLOTTE, NC — Erica Enders can scratch another one off the bucket list.

The defending Pro Stock champion won at zMax Dragway for the first time, taking down Vincent Nobile on a holeshot in the final round of the NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sunday, and in doing so, she continued to pile up impressive numbers for her career and for her outstanding 2015 season.

“That is pretty neat,” Enders said of winning in Charlotte. “Back when I drove for Cagnazzi (Racing), this was one of the facilities that they had never won at. It was obviously a goal of ours. Coming in this weekend, I had runner-upped three or four different times here, a couple at the Four-Wide Nationals and one at the regular race. This was actually the place where the win lights malfunctioned and we thought we got our first win against Greg Anderson, but then they were like, ‘Sike, you don’t get it,’ and took the trophy over to him.

“That was definitely an interesting roller-coaster ride of emotions, but to finally be able to win here in Charlotte is definitely awesome.”

The victory — Enders’ class-leading seventh of the season and 19th of her career — kicked off the Countdown to the Championship. She was already the No. 1 seed for the six-race Countdown, and she increased her points lead to 83.

And the numbers don’t stop there:

  • Her 19th career win passed Shirley Muldowney on the all-time win list for women and Enders now trails only Angelle Sampey (41)
  • The Charlotte win was her third consecutive victory, tying the mark set by Sampey in 2002 and Muldowney in 1977 for most wins in a row by a woman
  • Her seventh win of 2015 tied the mark set by Sampey in 2001 for most wins in a single season by a woman

“Yeah, it’s pretty incredible,” Enders said. “My PR guy was telling me some stats on the way down the hallway and that is pretty surreal. I feel like I’m in a dream. I just don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such a great group of guys and to work for such an awesome team owner. We have fun together and that is what makes it so cool. We are able to be successful and have fun. Nobody said that you had to be miserable while you are doing it.

“It’s a true blessing, and to be able to pass Shirley — it was crazy in Indy to tie her. Angelle is a friend of mine, lives about 20 minutes from my house (in New Orleans). She is by far the winningest female in NHRA drag racing, so it’s definitely cool to put my name alongside of theirs, a true honor.”

Enders stamped her name in the record book with another final-round holeshot. She beat Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman in the final of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, and then did the same to Nobile here.

Nobile’s pass of 6.575 seconds at 211.13 mph was quicker than Enders’ 6.581-second run at 210.97 mph, but her reaction time of .012-second (compared to Nobile’s .022) made the difference.

“In the second round we had an issue with our clutch and were able to barely make it up for the semifinals against (Allen Johnson),” Enders said. “And we had another interesting thing happen before the final. It was like they were throwing all that they could at us to see us fail but we rose above. That was pretty cool.

“It’s just a confidence booster in getting in the race car up there when my crew chief (Rick Jones) said, ‘Hey, look up in the right corner of your windshield. What does that say? It says No. 1. There is a reason for that.’

“Just having them stand behind me even when I might not be there mentally that day it pumps me up. They are there for me. My guys are who make me a better driver.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders will begin title defense from No. 3 spot in Charlotte

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders begins her title defense on Sunday from the No. 3 qualifying position at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway.

Enders sits atop the Pro Stock points standings as the six-race Countdown to the Championship begins here this weekend, and she has shown plenty of speed and consistency during qualifying. Her best pass was 6.536 seconds at 211.83 mph, and she races Vieri Gaines in the first round of eliminations Sunday. Gaines qualified No. 14 with a top lap of 6.670 at 210.05 mph.

With the warmest temperatures of the weekend expected Sunday, Pro Stock drivers and teams will need to negotiate a difficult track, but Enders knows her Elite Motorsports team will be up to the challenge.

“We’re going to have a long day cut out for us tomorrow,” Enders said. “It’s going to be the hottest day of the weekend, and I think it’s going to be survival of the fittest.

“That makes me happy because I know what my guys are capable of. When the racetrack is in great condition and the weather’s just right, everybody can run well, but when things are not wonderful is when we really seem to excel. I’m speaking optimistically and am hopeful that tomorrow is a long day.”

Three of Enders’ four qualifying passes were within .015-second, showing the consistency needed to win on race day. In Q3, Enders’ Chevrolet Camaro suffered a damaged engine, but her team replaced it and made a solid pass in the heat of the day, 6.551 seconds at 211.53 mph.

“We started off on the right foot: We were low for the first session,” Enders said. “When we went up for Q2, we had some interesting things happen, and we hurt a motor today, so it’s definitely been an interesting weekend so far.

“We wrapped up qualifying with a decent, race-day prep run and ended up being third-quickest for the session, so that’s good.”

Enders is a six-time winner in 2015, including the last Pro Stock races on the schedule. The most recent was the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, where she beat Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman in the final.

“Right now, my teammate and I are on opposite sides of the ladder,” Enders said, “so that’s fun if you want to look forward and see what could potentially happen.”

Pro Stock eliminations are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Erica Enders, Elite Motorsports ready to defend Pro Stock championship

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Pro Stock champion Erica Enders begins the Countdown to the Championship playoffs from the lofty No. 1 spot at this weekend’s NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMax Dragway.

Victories in the last two races, including the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals two weeks ago, cemented her No. 1 spot — and a 30-point lead over the No. 2 driver — in the points standings.

“I’m really excited to be in the No. 1 position because that 30-point bonus would have significantly changed things in Pomona [Calif.] last year when it came down to the final round at the final race with Jason (Line) and I,” Enders said. “Had I lost that round, I would have lost the championship by one point.

“We still have a ton of work cut out for us going into the Countdown. We weren’t the fastest car at Indy, but you bet your butt our guys are back in the shop working on that to see if we can find some more horsepower and get our act together for the Countdown.”

Enders has six victories in seven final-round appearances in 2015, racing to the semifinals in five other races. She also has five No. 1 qualifiers and has amassed a 40-12 round-win record through 18 races.

“We came off the win in Brainerd [Minn.], went to Indy, and won at Indy,” Enders said. “We want to carry that momentum. You want to start off the Countdown on the right foot. These are the six most important races of the season. You have to have as little parts failure as you can. You have to change things out more frequently than you would have before just to stay ahead of the game.

“I’m really excited. I’m very optimistic about the final six races. I know that my guys are as well.”

Enders won the 2014 world championship by winning twice, racing to the semifinals twice, and reaching the second round twice in the six-race Countdown. That experience can only help as she guns for her second consecutive season title.

“I feel like we as a team learned a lot about ourselves last year, being able to perform well in those high-pressure situations,” Enders said. “Behind the scenes, of course, your stomach is in a knot. I joked last year going into the final round that I could have puked. I think my crew chiefs were the same way. So much is on the line for one round.

“We were pretty tough. That’s something that we learned, and I’ve become a much better driver with the guys that are surrounding me now. My Elite Motorsports team has helped me so much. I feel that even in crazy situations — when things break, go wrong, you’re rushed, or you’re not in sequence — I’ve learned how to overcome those feelings and just be able to block that out.

“I feel like I can have anything thrown at me and can have anything thrown at us and we can come out on top. That’s something that we had to learn and had to acquire over the years. Going into this Countdown, yes, I feel like we are the best that we have ever been, and I’m very, very excited about what’s to come.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:15 and 5:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday.

Erica Enders adds U.S. Nationals title to growing résumé

Erica Enders wins 2015 U.S. Nationals at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Erica Enders can now add U.S. Nationals champion to her growling list of accomplishments in what is becoming a legendary career.

Enders won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals on Monday at Lucas Oil Raceway with a brilliant driving display, beating her final three opponents on holeshots, including Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman in the final round.

The victory cemented her No. 1 spot in the Pro Stock points standings for the Countdown to the Championship, which begins at zMax Dragway in Charlotte in two weeks, and it was her 18th career win, tying her for second all-time with the legendary Shirley Muldowney.

Enders may not be a legend yet, but she has accomplished a lot. She won the 2014 Pro Stock World Championship, becoming the first female to win the class title, and now she has won the biggest race of all, three years after a crushing defeat in the final round to a teammate.

“I’m struggling putting it into words because we’ve worked so hard for so long to get here,” Enders said. “There have been times in my career, particularly the final at Indy in 2012, where I really didn’t understand why things went down the way they did. It’s worth the wait. It’s worth the wait to do it with the right people and I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”

Her team is proud of her, too, especially after her driving Monday. After dispatching Vieri Gaines in the first round, Enders was actually outrun by Larry Morgan in the second round (6.613 seconds at 209.52 mph for Morgan to 6.617 at 209.01 mph for Enders), but her .036-second reaction time and .007-second head start was the difference.

Then came a big matchup in the semifinals against Greg Anderson, who was second in the points standings and the No. 1 qualifier here. But Enders drilled the Tree (.013 to .054) and overcame Anderson’s 6.591-second pass at 210.41 mph with her 6.618 at 209.39 mph.

“It was a challenge all day long, and our big round was against Greg Anderson,” Enders said. “Beating him allows us to go into the Countdown in the No. 1 seed. Those 30 points are going to be really, really crucial to us considering last year. Had we lost to Jason Line in the final (in Pomona, Calif., last year), we would have lost by a single point, so it’s huge. It’s huge for me, it’s huge for my team, and huge for any kid that ever had a dream. I came here as a little kid and I wanted to be here. Twenty-three years later we finally made it.”

In the final against Skillman, Enders had another .013 light to Skillman’s .025, and her run of 6.611 seconds at 209.75 mph was enough to hold off his 6.606-second run at 209.98 mph. The victory was her sixth of 2015, and her career total now matches Muldowney.

“Six wins in a single season is huge because I tied Shirley Muldowney,” Enders said. “I talk about Shirley an awful lot because she’s been a lifelong hero of mine because of what she had to endure driving back then. She still managed to do it with grace and class and come out on top. Over the years she became my mentor and my friend. I’m really lucky to have her in my corner. To put my name next to hers for a tie for all-time wins is incredible.

“I remember it like it was yesterday, wanting to get on the list, period, with just one win, and to say we have 18 is nuts.”

And it came at the race where she was named grand marshal. Enders got the call from Chevrolet before the race in Seattle, but she thought it was a joke.

“I kinda was like, ‘Are you joking?’ ” Enders said. “It’s a huge honor. I’m a Chevy girl through and through, and I’m very proud to drive a Camaro. It’s very neat, and it was a big honor to be up there today before the race. Jim Campbell has done a lot for our sport, as has everybody at Chevrolet. It’s just an honor. It feels surreal because I have to pinch myself to believe that we’re doing what we’re doing.”

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