Archive for the Elite Motorsports Category

TWO-TIME PRO STOCK CHAMP ERICA ENDERS TRENDING THE RIGHT WAY AT ROUTE 66 RACEWAY

CHICAGO, IL — One of the most popular drivers in NHRA history, Erica Enders is used to “trending” on social media as she always seems to be at the forefront of fan’s online conversations. This weekend at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals, Enders is executing a different type of “trending,” this time involving her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

Since the start of qualifying, Enders has managed to improve in each of the four sessions, finally settling on a respectable 6.600-second quarter-mile pass at 210.50 mph that pegged her ninth on the elimination grid.

“Yeah, not too bad,” Enders said. “We’re certainly not exactly where we want to be because we’ll most likely be starting race day in the first pair out and we definitely won’t have lane choice, but I’ll still bet on my Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports guys every time.

“We definitely used all four qualifying runs as test sessions, really on all four of our team cars, so we’ve acquired a lot of data and gotten better every run even if it’s just by a little bit, so we are directionally correct at the moment and I hope that trend continues tomorrow.”

Enders “directionally correct” performance shows her starting the weekend with a 6.652 at 208.62 mph, improving to a 6.631 at 208.42 mph in Round 2, and then a 6.624 at 210.37 mph in Round 3 before posting her run of record in the final session.

“The way the car ran in the last round, it leads us to be optimistic about tomorrow,” Enders said. “I think we can make some pretty significant improvements and win some rounds. I’m ready. I’m hungry for another win.”

A victor earlier this season in Epping, N.H., Enders opens race day against part-time competitor Chris McGaha, who qualified eighth with a 6.596 at 209.98 mph. Enders and McGaha have not raced one another this season.

Joining her teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the grandstands between professional sessions, Enders spent her downtime Saturday taking in as much of the JEGS Allstars event as possible. The JEGS Allstars pits the best 80 Sportsman racers from the last 12 months against one another for individual and team titles.

“The racing was so intense,” Enders said. “Having come up through the Sportsman ranks and still racing the Lucas Oil series when I can, it’s just awesome to see how great those Allstars are out there. That’s such a huge honor for those racers and they certainly put on a show for the fans today.”

The first round of Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air live coverage from 3-6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.

Erica Enders eager to take her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Pro Stocker to Chicago

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Norwalk 2017

CHICAGO, IL – Two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders has a wealth of quarter-mile excitement to draw from this weekend as she takes the controls of her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals, just outside of Chicago.

“Chicago has a lot of meaning to me because we won our first Pro Stock race there in 2012 after seven long years of trying,” Enders said. “It was such a huge deal, a culmination of so many things. It felt wonderful. It was a big relief and also immediately made you want to do it again. I’m always excited to head back to Chicago.”

Enders, a 33-year-old native of Houston, and her team are also excited about getting additional primary sponsorship backing on the sides of her red racer from marketing partner Melling Performance this weekend as well as NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ events in Denver, Sonoma, Calif., Seattle, and Indianapolis.

“Having Melling Performance step up and take the doors for the rest of the summer is really big for our team,” Enders said. “We’re going to do everything we can to put our red Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Camaro in the winner’s circle at least few times.”

Chicago holds many opportunities for Enders to celebrate at one of the NHRA’s historically quickest and fastest racetracks. Among those is the running of the JEGS Allstars event, a unique race-within-a-race Saturday for the “Best of the Best” from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

“I’ll definitely be up in the stands watching the JEGS Allstars race,” Enders said. “My Elite Motorsports teammate, Jeg (Coughlin) Jr., and his family put on the biggest and best race of the year for the top Sportsman drivers and the competition is intense. You know I’ll be rooting for Division 4!

“We’ve had significant success in Chicago over the years, not only in Pro Stock, but I always do well there in my Sportsman cars too. I’ve never won a Sportsman race there, but I always seem to go deep on race day. I have a good vibe with that racetrack, for sure.”

Last month Enders, one of the sport’s most popular drivers, won in Epping, N.H., marking the first win for the Houston native since the fall of 2015. However, the feisty resident of New Orleans and her team are not resting on their laurels after a taste of success and some overdue time off.

“The week off was definitely needed after racing four weekends in a row,” Enders said. “It gave all of us a chance for a quick rest and then get back to work on some things we need to do. We stayed to test after Norwalk in an effort to get the car a little more consistent for these summer races.

“We’re doing so much better this year, but we’re nowhere near satisfied yet. There’s a lot more on the horizon and our goal right now is to reach a strong level of consistency before the Countdown to the Championship (playoffs) starts.”

Pro Stock will hold qualifying sessions at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m., Friday, and 3:15 and 6 p.m., Saturday. First round of eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. NHRA TV on Fox FS1 includes live Chicago coverage 5-7 p.m., Saturday, and 3-6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.

Melling Performance moves to title sponsor position on Erica Enders’ hot rod

WYNNEWOOD, OK — Melling Performance, a longtime associate sponsor of Elite Motorsports and two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, will become title sponsor of the 22-time national event winner for five national events, beginning with next weekend’s 20th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Chicago and continuing through the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indy.

“Everyone at Melling Performance is excited about our association with Erica and Elite Motorsports,” Melling Performance CEO Mark Melling said. “After being at the races, I thought it would be great to see the Melling Performance Decal on the doors of Erica’s RED #9 racecar. It reminds me of the Bill Elliott days in NASCAR.

“Melling has been launching a ton of new performance engine parts, and we are pumped to see our logo on the side of her RED Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro!”

Melling Performance will adorn the doors of Enders’ racecar at the upcoming NHRA national events in Chicago, Denver, Sonoma, Seattle and Indianapolis.

“Looking over the landscape of Pro Stock, it’s really quite an accomplishment to bring a company the size and caliber of Melling into a title sponsorship role,” team owner Richard Freeman said. “It reflects well on the entire class, the NHRA and our friends at FOX as well. Exposure for our sport and more importantly our sponsors is growing and that’s important to the long-term economic vitality of our race team.”

Enders is one of the top female racers in history. Only Enders, Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey have won world championships in any of the top forms of motorsports and her two championships, 22 national event wins, 18 No. 1 qualifiers and admirable 242-161 race day record place her in elite company.

“I’m so excited to have Melling Performance step up like this,” Enders said. “We recently toured their facility and I was completely blown away. They aren’t state-of-the-art, they are way beyond that. It is like something out of the future. I was so impressed with everything they showed us.

“We’ve become friends with everyone at Melling and they have definitely become part of the Elite family over the past few years. I can’t wait to drive this Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro into the winner’s circle this weekend.”

Melling is a leading manufacturer of oil pumps and other power train components. Melling serves the global automotive original equipment and aftermarket industries and is noted for its strong engineering, product development and distribution capabilities. Melling operates 10 facilities in North America.

Too quick at the Tree, two-time champ Erica Enders departs Norwalk race early

Erica Enders | 2017 NHRA Pro Stock Norwalk

NORWALK, OH — As the driver of the lower qualified car in the less-favored left-hand lane, two-time world champion Erica Enders knew a stellar reaction time would help her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro race team tremendously in their Sunday morning match-up with teammate Vincent Nobile.

Unfortunately, Enders dropped the clutch a fraction of a second early, drawing a -.004 second red-light disqualification, which negated her quicker pass of 6.583 seconds at 210.93 mph. Nobile took the victory at the start and then ran a 6.595 at 210.37 mph to advance to the quarterfinals of the 11th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.

“There’s no excuse for a red light,” Enders said. “I just left too early and that cost us the win, plain and simple. I feel bad for the guys because Rick and Rickie (Jones, co-crew chiefs) had a great tune-up for the conditions and we would have won under most situations, but woulda, shoulda, coulda…I didn’t get it done.

“I’m continually amazed at the talent on this team and the togetherness we share. I’m the only one beating myself up. Everyone else is saying, ‘don’t worry E, we’ll get ’em next time.’ We win and lose as a team and today didn’t go our way. At least our Elite Performance teammate Vincent advanced. Hopefully he takes his Mountain View Tires Camaro all the way to the winner’s circle. If not him, then our other teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.”

After four national events in a row, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will take a weekend off before starting the second half of the 24-race season July 7-9 with the 20th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals near Chicago.

“Elite cars have been in five straight finals and six of the last seven finals coming into this race,” Enders said. “I won Epping and Alex (Laughlin) won Bristol. Me, Jeg and Vincent also have runner-up finishes. We’re definitely in the mix every weekend and we’ll go home from here, take a little break, and get ready to crush ’em in Chicago.”

FOX Sports 1 programming of today’s race begins at 6 p.m. ET, Sunday.

Once again, Erica Enders opens eliminations against an Elite Motorsports teammate

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Norwalk 2017

NORWALK, OH — For the fifth time this season, two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will face a teammate from her Elite Motorsports camp at the start of eliminations. This time its Vincent Nobile, who she’s opened against twice previously and faced four times overall in 2017 competition.

“It always sucks racing a teammate, especially in the first round,” said Enders, who is 3-1 versus Nobile this year. “Vincent is a great competitor and I know both crews will bring everything they have. First round, for sure, will be a heavyweight battle for all four of our Elite Motorsports cars because we are all racing each other. I guess we should be happy that at least two Elite cars will advance no matter what.”

Although Enders was third in Friday’s provisional field, she dropped to 10th place in Saturday’s heat, giving lane choice away to Nobile. Still, the two are very close in performance with Enders running a best of 6.623 at 208.36 mph and Nobile going 6.616 at 210.01 mph.

“We had a top-three car yesterday but the weather is so different today and we fell back a little bit,” Enders said. “Tomorrow will be different as well and I remain very confident in my team’s ability to take whatever the weather and racetrack throws at us.

“There was a lot more water in the air yesterday, but with today’s better weather being a little hotter it became a much more difficult track. Power management was a little trickier. We just need to get a handle on it and do what we know how to do on race day. We have a lot of experience and data going into Sunday. I know we have what it takes to be a player when it comes to race day regardless of where we’re qualified.”

Saturday was a busy day for Enders as she pulled double duty, racing both her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stocker and the Omaha Track COPO Camaro in the Factory Stock Showdown. Enders already has an elimination-round win in the Showdown, beating No. 2 qualifier Peter Gasko when he fouled out at the start by -.007 seconds. She’ll face No. 8 qualifier Kevin Skinner in Sunday’s semifinals.

“My Omaha Track COPO Camaro is in the semifinals!” an excited Enders said. “This is the first time we’ve been able to get past the first round in the Factory Showdown so we’re pumped up. We made a decent run there but we definitely can tune it up and improve. I think we have a real shot at winning. We raced a guy first round who had us covered by a tenth of a second and found a way to make it happen.”

“I have an opportunity to bring home two Wallys tomorrow, which I have never done before. We are down to four cars so we just need to beat two more guys and we will be in the winner’s circle. Easier said than done, for sure, but we’re going to give it hell.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 programming begins at 6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.

Two-time champ Erica Enders set to scoop up another trophy in Norwalk

Erica Enders | Factory Stock Showdown COPO Camaro

NORWALK, OH – Two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders’ confidence going into the weekend’s 11th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park is extremely high.

The spunky 33-year-old driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is excited about her team’s momentum and she’s anxious to build on her group’s recent successes, which have her eying a run at a third NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship.

“Norwalk is always a fun race for us; this year’s going to be awesome,” Enders said. “The weather forecast looks great and hopefully it’s not going to be 9 million degrees like it normally is there. We’ll carry the performance gains we made in Bristol (previous event) to Norwalk, and I think we’ll be just fine.”

Earlier this month in Epping, N.H., Enders tallied her first win since the fall of 2015. The Houston native is hoping to continue the hot streak she started in New England at a Norwalk facility known as much for its record-breaking performances as it is for its one pound of ice cream for one dollar promotion.

Only three years removed from her previous Norwalk trophy, Enders’ ambitious heart will be pumping icy blood through her veins when she rolls her Camaro to the starting line this year.

“I really think Epping was just the tip of the iceberg for us,” Enders said. “I didn’t execute properly in Bristol but going into Norwalk it’s go time. I’m ready to win again. We did get a team win in Bristol when Alex (Laughlin) got the victory so we’re firing on all cylinders. I actually won Norwalk in 2014, and I have a really cool ice cream scoop they gave me that sits proudly on my trophy shelf.”

Along with her 2014 victory, Enders, a resident of New Orleans, posted No. 1 qualifying efforts in Norwalk in 2015, 2014 and 2011.

Accustomed to the driver’s seat in just about any racecar, Enders will also be competing in a unique race-within-a-race event this weekend behind the wheel of one of the most powerful production cars rolling off the assembly lines in nearby Detroit.

“I’m get be drive the Omaha Track COPO Camaro in the Factory Stock Showdown so that will be exciting, too,” Enders said. “I’ve got lots to do and that’s the way I like it. We’ll see if we can get back on the right track in Norwalk.”

The Pro Stock racers hit the track Friday with two qualifying sessions at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. They return for two more qualifying sessions Saturday at 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. First round of eliminations begin Sunday at 1 p.m. NHRA TV coverage on FOX Sports 1 includes original Norwalk programming at 10:30 p.m., Friday, and at 6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.

Just days removed from Epping victory, Erica Enders takes dead aim at Bristol crown

Erica Enders | NHRA Thunder Valley Bristol 2017

BRISTOL, TN — Two-time drag racing world champion Erica Enders celebrated her 22nd national event win less than two weeks ago in Epping, N.H., and the sport’s most prolific female Pro Stock driver is geared up to repeat the feat after qualifying a lofty third in the field of the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Enders coaxed a very competitive 6.704-second quarter-mile pass at 205.66 mph out of her car in the cooler Friday evening qualifying session to lock up her third-best starting spot of the year. The only time she’s qualified better in 2017 was when she earned the No. 2 spot in Charlotte and Epping.

“The whole Elite Motorsports team is looking great this weekend, and really has been for the last several events,” Enders said. “I’m No. 3, my teammate Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) is on the pole, my other teammate Vincent (Nobile) is No. 6, and Alex (Laughlin, fourth team member) is No. 8 so we have half of the top-side of the field. I’d say that’s pretty darn good.

“My new favorite saying is that ‘I’d put my money on us every time,’ and I sure feel that way right now. We’ll see what tomorrow brings and certainly no one is going to give us anything, but I like our chances.”

As the No. 3 qualifier in 13-car field, the modified elimination ladder will have Enders racing Alan Prusiensky in the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations. Prusiensky qualified 12th on the grid with a best pass of 6.786 at 202.79 mph. Enders, who is 2-0 against Prusiensky this year, will have the advantage of lane choice.

“Our Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro has been running across the top of the timing sheets just about every round here,” Enders said. “We also have the ability to look at Jeg’s, Vincent’s and Alex’s runs as well so I’m sure Rick (Jones, crew chief) will cook up something competitive for tomorrow.

“We’re a true team. It’s the way our team owner Richard Freeman said it would be and he always does what he says. I always want to win but I’m also pulling for my teammates. If one of us goes out early, the crew guys all go and help the other teams so we can give it our best effort every time.

“I won Epping two weeks ago and I was runner-up in Atlanta. Vincent was runner-up last weekend in Englishtown. Jeg was runner-up in Houston and Topeka. I’d say we’ve had a really strong first half of the year and it’s only going to get better.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air all the action at 6:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

“I’ve won two Father’s Day races for my dad (in 2014 and 2015) and it would be great to give him another Wally this time through,” Enders said. “I’ll certainly do all I can.”

Erica Enders eager to go racing at her all-time favorite track — Bristol Dragway

Erica Enders | NHRA Thunder Valley 2017 Preview

BRISTOL, TN – Like with most things in life, people have favorites. Some may have a favorite pizza joint, while others may have a favorite golf course they like to play. Most times these favorite places are special to a person for a reason unique to them.

Bristol Dragway is one of those favorite places for two-time world champion NHRA Pro Stock driver Erica Enders. This weekend as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competes in the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Enders will be at her favorite race track with high hopes of even more success at the picturesque quarter-mile.

In her back-to-back championship years of 2014 and 2015, the feisty 33-year-old driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro took home Wallys from the Thunder Valley Nationals. That stat in itself is enough to make a track near and dear to her heart, but she also has two runner-up finishes (2013 and 2011) and a No. 1 qualifying effort in 2015 at Bristol Dragway.

“Bristol is my favorite track on tour and I’m not saying that because we are going there this weekend, it just is,” Enders said. “I’ve had a lot of success there in the past and we are looking to carry our momentum from our win in Epping on through to Bristol and just do the best we can.”

Two weekends ago in Epping, N.H., the Houston native, broke through for her first win since the 2015 fall race in Las Vegas. Even though she and her team struggled to continue their ascension back to the top of the Pro Stock elite last weekend in Englishtown, N.J., the New Orleans resident sees their setback only as an anomaly.

“We continue to feel like we’re on the rise,” Enders said. “Throw E-town out the window because that track was in really bad shape. The starting line was completely bald and it was freshly ground when we showed up with the worst grind job we’ve ever seen. If you look at the Pro Stock field collectively, from 1-10 was one hundredth of a second apart so the starting line was a huge equalizer. You couldn’t be aggressive at all down low, you just had to kinda baby it through low gear to get it to go down the race track. Like I said, I don’t think our performance this past weekend is indicative of what we are capable of at all.”

It’s said of the atmospheric conditions in East Tennessee, “Don’t like the weather now, just wait five minutes.” With a moving target as far as the weather goes, Enders knows getting the right tune-up in her Elite Motorsports Camaro will be a thorny proposition.

“You know it will probably be hot and tricky there,” Enders said. “Bristol also has a few bumpy spots so it will definitely be a survival-of-the-fittest type weekend. It’s okay because like I always say, I’ll put my money on us every time.”

The Pro Stock racers hit the track Friday with two qualifying sessions at 5 and 7:30 p.m. They return for two more qualifying sessions Saturday at 1 and 3:30 p.m. First round of eliminations began Sunday at 1 p.m. NHRA TV coverage on Fox FS1 includes original Bristol programming on Friday at 8 p.m., on Saturday at 11 p.m., and on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (Times are local and subject to change.)

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