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Pro Stock’s Enders Narrowly Misses Victory at Bristol

Erica Enders-Stevens vs Rodger Brogdon Bristol 2013

BRISTOL, TN (June 16) — With less than a foot separating them at the finish line, first time Pro Stock winner Rodger Brogdon squeaked past the Charter Communications / Black Iguana Camaro of Erica Enders-Stevens during the final round at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Brogdon’s pass of 6.745 seconds at 205.48 bested Enders’ 6.752 at 205.66. During that run, Enders’ car slowed by nearly five-hundredths over the previous round, giving Brogdon just enough momentum to defeat Enders by just .0026 seconds, or roughly nine inches at the finish line.

“We missed the clutch setup and it slowed us down. Had we ran in the 6.700’s as we did in the semis it would have been a different story. These cars run so close together you can’t afford to miss your mark,” said Enders.

The number three qualifier Enders would outrun Larry Morgan in round one, then out-drive the venerable Jeg Coughlin with a holeshot victory in round two. A semi-final victory over Greg Anderson would sent her to the final round against the underdog Brogdon.

She ran a 6.680, a 6.694, and a 6.706 second pass during those first three rounds.

Brogdon, who had only once before ever reached a Pro Stock final, took out V. Gaines in round one before defeating number one qualifier Mike Edwards in round two when Edwards’ motor broke. Next, Jason Line spun in the semifinals, setting up the showdown between the two Texas natives.

“I don’t think anyone expected we’d face each other in the finals,” said Enders. “Mike had all of us on the run in qualifying, so it would take something big to get around him. Rodger was able to capitalize on it, and he was able to do the same against Jason. I’m sure it surprised a lot of people, but as drivers we know everyone has a chance on Sunday.”

Enders and Brogdon both hail from the Houston area, and have a long history as friends and rivals, dating back to when Erica was a teammate with Brogdon while running for MOPAR, and she and her father, Gregg raced sportsman cars with Roger.

“Rodger and I have known each other for a very long time,” said Enders. “Of course we would have liked to have been in his shoes today, but I haven’t forgot what it was like to win my first last year, so I’m happy he gets to experience it too.”

With Bristol complete, Erica remains 4th in the overall Pro Stock points standings with 687, behind Mike Edwards (921) and a tie between teammates Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin (757). If funding for Black Iguana gets finalized this week, she will race Next weekend, June 20th – 23rd, for the Inagural NHRA New England Nationals title at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire.

Tire Shake Cuts Englishtown Short for BLACK iGUANA Racer Enders

launch-etown

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ (June 3) — Erica Enders-Stevens was dealt a frustrating 2nd round loss when her BLACK iGUANA Frozen Rita Camaro shook the tires during the 44th Annual NHRA Toyota Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey.

The number-three qualified Enders made a solid 6.601 @ 209.62 mph pass in round one, defeating Frank Gugliotta who fouled out at the line with a -.010 red light start.

But it was the second round match-up against reigning series champ Allen Johnson that would cut her quest for another Wally trophy short.

With Enders and Johnson kicking off round two, the BLACK iGUANA Camaro immediately succumbed to tire shake during the launch, causing the car to cut hard right and forcing her to push in the clutch and call off the pass.

“As I felt it start to shake I quickly pulled 2nd, but it wasn’t enough to calm the car down,” said Enders.

As elimination rounds progress with each class, track conditions begin to change. Even seemingly minor shifts can have a big impact on how a crew chief makes their decision on what to tweak in order to get the car down the track.

“Being the first pair out, you also don’t have the opportunity to watch other cars go down ahead of you,” she explained. “It’s an extra challenge for crew chiefs, especially in this heat. Unfortunately, we missed our mark today and we took our lumps for it.”

Johnson would go on to a pass of 6.646 @ 209.65 mph and eventually take his Mopar Dodge Avenger to a runner-up finish against number the one qualifier, Mike Edwards.

Enders wasn’t the only one to be shook out of contention this weekend. Topeka winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. and hometown favorite Vincent Nobile would also experience similar fates.

“As a driver you want to get down the track, and you can sometimes fight your way through it. This just wasn’t one of those times for us,” Enders said. “It’s frustrating as we’ve had a fast car in qualifying, but haven’t been able to translate it into more round wins on Sunday.”

With Englishtown on the books, Enders remains 4th in overall points. The NHRA heads next to Bristol, Tennesse June 14th – 16th for the 13th Annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Enders Charges to another Top-3 Qualifying Finish at Englishtown

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ (June 1) — If you asked anyone at Old Bridge Township Raceway how they are feeling at this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Summernationals, the answer would more often than not be “HOT”.

With searing temperatures in the mid 90’s, crews and racers have had to contend with 130+ degree track temps and all of the slick and slimy traction challenges that come with it.

But if you asked Erica Enders-Stevens how she’s feeling, the answer is “Ready”.

“It’s been brutal out there, and a 15-layer fire suit doesn’t make it any easier,” Enders joked. “But I’m ready. The car is running well, we’re in a groove, and I want to put this Black Iguana car in the winner’s circle tomorrow.”

Erica’s first pass of 6.569 @ 210.50 mph on Friday started her off in the #2 spot before Shane Gray clicked off a pass just .004 thousandths quicker in Q2, sending Enders to the #3 spot that she would hold on to through Saturday’s sessions.

This weekend’s qualifying follows a number two qualifying effort in Topeka for her Cagnazzi Racing team. However, Kansas dealt an early exit for the Black Iguana Chevy when transmission problems caused it to fall in the first round to Rodger Brogdon.

“Topeka was a gut check. We had an awesome car going in to Sunday. But in the first round, on the first shift, we broke. It was a huge disappointment, but you have to shake it off, fix the problem, and keep the momentum up for the next race,” said Enders.

“We’ve been a top three qualifier for two races in a row, proving we’ve got a hot rod that’s capable of going rounds and has the potential to get us into the winner’s circle. Now it’s just up to us to get it there.”

No doubt the hot temps will continue to be a factor with Sunday’s high remaining in the 90’s.

“We won in Seattle last year when it was unseasonably hot, and we can do it again here,” recalls Enders. “Tommy Utt and Dave Connolly have a knack for the hot track setup.”

Final eliminations for the NHRA Toyota Summernationals begins at 11:00 AM Eastern time. ESPN2’s elimination broadcast begins at 4:30 PM Eastern.