Archive for the Mopar Category

Elite Motorsports and Mopar to part ways in 2017

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WYNNEWOOD, OK – Elite Motorsports and Mopar have announced that they will end their partnership at the end of the 2016 racing season.

“I want to thank everyone at Mopar and Dodge, from the top executives to the engineers on to the people helping us at the races for their hard work and dedication,” said Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman. “My guys should be commended. They basically worked around the clock with pretty much zero days off for the entire season, busting their butts to try and give Erica and Jeggy competitive racecars. We look forward to a fresh start into 2017.”

“We thank the entire Elite Motorsports team, including owner Richard Freeman and drivers Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin Jr. for serving as superb ambassadors of our brand,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “The drivers and team handled themselves with professionalism and class, constantly working hard to break into the winner’s circle. We commend them for their dedication and never-quit attitude, and wish the team, Erica and Jeg nothing but success in their future endeavors.

“For 2017, we will continue our relationship with Don Schumacher Racing in both NHRA Funny Car, which has culminated in four championships in six years, and also in Top Fuel, and we will expand our presence in the NHRA Sportsman ranks.”

Elite Motorsports drivers and multi-time world champions Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders both competed with Mopar-backed Dodge Darts in 2016.

“We really wanted to light up the scoreboards this year with our Magneti Marelli offered by Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart but we couldn’t quite get it running where it needed to be,” Coughlin said. “Like Richard, I salute everyone at Mopar and thank them for the effort. We wish them well in 2017 and beyond.”

Enders shared her teammate’s sentiments. “Mopar has been wonderful to work with,” she said. “It seems we were chasing it all year and never really got the cars where we could challenge for wins. Hopefully, we can start writing a new chapter and everyone will move forward into a better situation, including Team Mopar. We wish them nothing but the best because they’ve been great partners.”

Enders won the 2014 and 2015 Pro Stock titles with Elite Motorsports, while Coughlin finished top of the class in 2000, 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2013, prior to his time with Elite Motorsports.

Erica Enders closes out her championship tenure with a broad smile on her face

POMONA, CA — After winning two championships in a row and pushing her career win total to 21 national events, Erica Enders came into 2016 hoping to add to her legacy in a brand-new Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart. But things don’t always go as planned, and Enders instead went an entire year without reaching the final round.

Now, after equaling the best outing of the year by racing to the semifinals of the season-ending 52nd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, Enders can finally turn the page on a forgettable year and begin in earnest her comeback story.

“We always have high hopes every race and to get to the semifinals today is something we have only done twice previous to this race this year so it’s definitely a good weekend for us,” Enders said.

Flashing the driving prowess that made her a two-time champ, Enders fought hard Sunday, beating fellow Texan and good friend Alex Laughlin with a massive .049-second holeshot advantage, .023 to .072, which gave her a comfortable win at the other end, with a 6.623 at 209.33 mph beating his 6.596 at 209.82 mph.

In Round 2 it was teammate Vincent Nobile in the other lane and once again Enders had the better reaction time, .032 to .051, to get an early lead. That was really all it took because Nobile’s car got squirrely and he had to abort the run, giving Enders the win with a 6.649 at 208.91 mph to his coasting 15.635 at 47.85 mph.

With the championship on the line, Jason Line was Enders’ semifinal foe, and with memories of 2014 dancing through both driver’s heads, the race was on. This time, instead of Enders pulling off the victory, it was Line getting it done, sealing his third title.

“Of course, when you get that close you get that Wally in your sights and if we could have gotten the car to go from A to B I think we could have won that round,” Enders said. “Either way, I am really proud for Jason Line. He’s a tough competitor and an even better guy so I am super happy that if we weren’t able to win the championship or one of my teammates win the championship, that Jason was able to get it done.

“My guys did a great job this weekend. They gave me a good racecar and I used my left foot as best I could today. I definitely wanted to close out 2016 with a win. It will be the first year to not get a win in awhile but there are bigger and better things to come in 2017 and we are ending on a high note. Me and my guys went down fighting.”

Switching manufacturers and a slew of significant rule changes to the Pro Stock class combined to wreak havoc with the Elite team, but finding a silver lining in it all, Enders said she’s learned a lot about herself and her team along the way.

“The struggles were endured are a testament to what my team is made of. It’s not always about the trophies. Yeah, we want to win races, that’s what we get paid to do, but it’s more about the chemistry and the camaraderie we share. It’s something money can’t buy, that’s why it’s so coveted, and it’s a big reason why people are envious of us. I so proud to be this team’s driver. I am so blessed. Richard Freeman could have chosen anyone, and he chose me and our puzzle is complete.”

Erica Enders enjoying twilight hours of her back-to-back championship run

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POMONA, CA — Back-to-back and reigning world champion Erica Enders has one more day to race her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart with the No. 1 sticker on the door and she plans on making the most of the occasion as the 2016 season draws to a close.

“We’re having fun,” Enders said. “I think all of us are relieved to a large extent and I know the feeling in the pit is that it’s nice to wrap up the final qualifying session of what has been an extremely long and challenging year.

“I’d say we made a couple of okay runs in qualifying, and I think there are some things we can improve on for tomorrow. That’s a glimmer of hope I suppose. All we can do is try our best like we have all year.”

Enders is no stranger to the victory circle at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, having visited it as recently as 2014 after her dramatic final-round win over Jason Line that clinched her first championship. It was history in the making as she became the first female to win a Pro Stock title and just the third woman ever to win a championship in any major form of motorsports.

“This is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the tour,” Enders said. “It holds a lot of great memories and the fans have been wonderful in reminding me about 2014. They all remember every moment, just like I do. It’s great to relive those times.

“We’ll go into race day like we always go into race day, that’s with confidence and a consistent race car. I’ll do my best to drive through a couple of win lights tomorrow.”

This weekend, Enders is qualified 12th on the grid after running a best of 6.608 at 210.05 mph during qualifying. She’ll open sudden-death eliminations Sunday opposite fellow Texan Alex Laughlin, who topped out at 6.570 at 210.97 mph during time trials.

“Alex is a good friend and he’s really had a strong car, especially down the stretch this year,” Enders said. “I’ll get up on the wheel and try to steal one away and we’ll go from there.

“I’m excited for the off season and the things we have in store for 2017. We definitely want the No. 1 designation back and to start winning races again. We have a great plan in place and I’m already wishing it was time for the Winternationals. Well, it maybe nice to have a little break to catch up on sleep first.”

Two-time world champion Erica Enders anxious to put 2016 in her rearview mirror

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Two-time and reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders lost a close race in the opening round of the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals to put a quick end to her weekend in Las Vegas, a place where she’s won four national events and a pair of K&N Horsepower Challenge trophies.

“I had a better feeling than normal today but we missed it a little bit that round,” Enders said. “I got left on for the first time in a long time and we shook the tires a little bit after that. It’s just one of those deals. That’s how it goes sometimes.

“Nothing will change my feelings for this track. We’ve had so much success here the last few years and I love The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway more than any place we go. We’ll be back here in the spring and we’ll start another winning streak for sure.”

Enders had a great .020-second reaction time but her opponent Chris McGaha had left first with a .003-second launch. He never trailed in the race, winning with a 6.714 at 205.01 mph to Enders’ 6.737 at 204.54 mph.

“The cool thing about my group is, no matter what adversity we face, we still have a blast together and next year’s a whole new year for us so I’ll be excited to get back to being competitive and hopefully making lots of trips to the winner’s circle again,” Enders said.

The season-ending 52nd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, which run Nov. 11-13 in Pomona, Calif., is the next race for Enders, but she’ll be busy until then with multiple appearances at the SEMA show In Las Vegas.

“SEMA is an awesome trade show and I always enjoy getting the chance to spend some quality time hanging out with all the various companies that we work with or support us,” Enders said. “It’s a lot of work, but fun work, and it’s definitely nice to talk to people away from the racetrack.”

Erica Enders would love to win Vegas race for fifth time in her career

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Enjoying a relaxed weekend at the racetrack where she’s had the most success in her brilliant career, back-to-back and reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports crew have put together one of their better qualifying efforts of the season.

The 21-time national event winner coaxed a steady 6.718 at 204.42 mph out of her Elite Performance/Mopar Dodge Dart, placing her ninth in the elimination field of the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals. The team has qualified higher than ninth on just four occasions this season.

“We definitely made some decent runs for us this weekend,” Enders said. “It’s exciting to be back at one of my favorite race tracks on the tour. We’ve had a lot of past success here and I’m hopeful that this track produces that same success for us tomorrow.

“Everyone knows we’re at a performance disadvantage right now but it’s not so much that it can’t be made up with my left (clutch) foot so we are going to go to work tomorrow and see what happens. I’m definitely excited to race.”

Enders will race Chris McGaha in Round 1. He posted a last-gasp 6.712 at 204.82 mph in the final qualifying session to move into eighth place on the grid.

“We just have to go out there and have a consistent race car that goes A to B,” Enders said. “I’ve gotta let the clutch pedal out better than I’ve ever let it out before and see if we can send a couple of these guy packing.”

Getting into the spirit of Halloween weekend, the entire Elite Motorsports operation, along with many other teams, dressed in costumes for today’s sessions.

“We’ve had a really fun weekend with everyone that’s associated with Elite,” she said. “My guys, Jeg Coughlin’s guys, Vincent Nobile’s team, and Shane Tucker’s team, everybody under the Elite Performance banner, dressed up like weirdo bodybuilders. We’re just a bunch of goofballs having a good time this weekend.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the action live from 4-7 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

No home state luck for Texan Erica Enders as two-time champ ousted early

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DALLAS, TX — Two-time and reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders was hoping for a taste of home cooking Sunday at the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals but instead the Spring, Texas native was eliminated early by title contender Greg Anderson at the Texas Motorplex.

The No. 15 qualifier out of 16 cars, Enders was hoping for a big upset of Anderson, a fellow multi-time champion ranked second in the world at the moment. Instead, Enders’ fouled out by a scant -.001 seconds, while Anderson took care of business, running 6.607 at 209.46 mph to Enders’ 6.682 at 207.08 mph.

“I figured I’d do all I could at the start and hope he was a little late and we could steal one away from him,” Enders said. “I was a thousandths of a second from perfect but ended up being on the wrong side of that red bulb.

“He obviously had us covered anyway but I ran the pass out just to get the data. There’s always Vegas and Pomona and we have designs on finishing as strong as possible.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates will enjoy a weekend off before the second-to-last race of 2016, the Toyota NHRA Nationals, which take place Oct. 28-30, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Even though the results weren’t what we wanted, I still had a great time being here in Texas. I love this state and miss it when I’m not here. Thank you so much to all the fans that stopped by and encouraged us. We’ve had a tough year but I promise big things are straight ahead and we’ll be back better than ever in 2017.”

FOX Sports 1 will broadcast elimination action live from 2-5 p.m. ET.

Texas native Erica Enders will need perfection to defend Dallas title

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DALLAS, TX — Reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders will have to be perfect to defend the title of the annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals after an off-pace qualifying effort that left her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart in the 15th spot on the elimination ladder.

Enders powered to a convincing victory at this event one year ago that all but clinched her second straight world title. It was one of nine wins she recorded in a record-breaking year. The Spring, Texas native hasn’t been as fortunate this season, and she finds herself still searching for her first win of 2016.

“Three races left on the schedule so that’s three chances to win,” Enders said. “Realistically, it’ll be tough and we didn’t do ourselves any favors here during qualifying but that won’t stop us from giving our all tomorrow. We’ve seen crazier things happen in the past.

“We have three cars racing out of Elite Motorsports between myself, Jeg (Coughlin) and Vincent (Nobile). Vincent is still very much in the mix for the championship this year so at our last team meeting Jeg and I told him we’d do all we could to help him get there. The best thing we can do is knock off those cars he’s battling, so we’ll give it hell.”

Friday qualifying ended with Enders posting a 6.652 at 207.75 mph, but that number wasn’t good enough to lock up a spot in the top 12 so the team had to start over Saturday. In her first effort Saturday she was forced to shut off well before the finish line and she drifted to a 9.776 at 94.49 mph.

Later, she came back in the final session and ran a 6.748 at 184.45 mph, the 15th best time of the day. Her first match-up will come against championship hopeful Greg Anderson, who topped out at 6.579 at 210.11 mph.

“Greg and Jason (Line, Anderson’s teammate) have been 1-2 all year between the two of them so right off the start we have a chance to take out a top car,” Enders said. “Obviously they have us covered this weekend but you never know what will happen on race day.

“I’m so happy to be back in Texas. I love my state and I feel so great whenever I’m here breathing Texas air.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast all of the elimination action live from 2-5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

World champion Erica Enders beats title contender Butner before fouling out of Reading

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READING, PA — Back-to-back world champion Erica Enders notched one of her biggest elimination round-wins of the year Sunday, beating title contender Bo Butner wire-to-wire in the opening session of the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.

“To go out there and get this Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart a round-win at the Dodge Nationals was exciting,” Enders said. “The uphill battle this entire season has been for us continues, but with only one run on this racetrack throughout qualifying, we really had a challenge before us today and my guys, as always, rose to the occasion.

“People always hear me bragging on my crew, and today showed exactly why I do it all the time. These guys are the best, and at a point in the season where it would be easy to mail it in, they fought hard, dug down, and gave me a great race car that took out one of the best cars in the category this year.”

Enders herself contributed to the victory, leaving ahead of Butner with a stellar .019-second reaction time. Butner wasn’t far behind after a .029-second launch, but he didn’t have the horsepower to catch the sport’s most prolific female Pro Stock racer, losing to Enders at both ends, 6.644 at 207.34 mph to his 6.647 at 209.43 mph.

“That round-win allowed our teammate, Vincent Nobile, to pass Bo and go into third place, and then Vincent went on to win the whole race, so it was a big day for Elite Motorsports,” Enders said.

Nobile’s triumph at the end of the day came at Enders’ expense as he beat her in the quarterfinals en route to the victory circle. In that race Enders left too early, drawing a -.007 red-light disqualification, which negated her 6.656 at 207.72 mph. Nobile might have been too tough to beat anyway as he posted a stout 6.600 at 209.88 mph.

“That second-round race against Vincent was definitely interesting,” Enders said. “We were in and out of our race cars a couple of times because of all the rain delays. I did a burnout at one point, backed up, and had to shut off and wait again. There were a lot of variables that went into that run.

“It’s one of those shoulda, coulda, woulda deals, but either way I should not have been red. That’s disappointing to me because it ends like a five-year streak of not being red. Having said that, we would not have been able to turn that win light on. He flat out had us covered. I’m just glad it was against my teammate. He’s going to battle for the Mello Yello championship right to the end.”

The Countdown to the Championship resumes after one week off with the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, Oct. 13-16, at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.

“We’ll head home for a week to work on things,” Enders said. “We’ll be ready for Dallas and try to help Vincent some more.”

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