Archive for the Mopar Category

Erica Enders wanted another chance at Reading track, but settles for mid-pack slot

Erica Enders | Dodge NHRA Nationals 2016

READING, PA — In between what has seemed to be a never-ending smattering of rain at Maple Grove Raceway, there were moments of really good drag racing, and reigning world champion Erica Enders is convinced she could have made a big move if she was given another chance. But in the end, she only got one shot in her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart and had to settle for the No. 9 spot on the qualifying grid.

“Dang it, we wanted another run,” Enders said. “It got really good this afternoon, and if the moisture had just dried up a tiny bit we could have really flown down this track. I think we just reached a point where it cooled off and the dew point and ambient temperatures were almost the same, so conditions just wouldn’t allow the Safety Safari to get the surface dry enough.

“I’ll tell you what, though, tomorrow this place is going to be a mineshaft. Everyone is saying the rain is pretty much over for this area, so if it stays cool and the track has a chance to air out tonight and tomorrow morning, it will be awesome.”

In her one run down the track Enders ran a semi-conservative 6.643-second pass at 208.65 mph, placing her ninth in the Pro Stock field of the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.

“After missing all of yesterday and seeing so much on and off sprinkling today, we wanted to make sure we got down what was a pretty green racetrack safely and with a decent time,” she said. “That’s exactly what we did, and once we saw the data from that run we had a really good game plan for this afternoon if we got to make another pass.

“It has been quite a struggle this year, but we’re getting things together now and we have a decent baseline to work from. Both of our team cars have been inching up the performance scale and we’re closer to where we want to be.”

For her efforts, Enders will open race day against Bo Butner, who posted a pass of 6.604 seconds at 211.00 mph. Surprisingly, the two racers have not faced one another this year.

“Bo’s been strong all year, running with the KB Racing boys, so he’ll be a good test right out of the gate,” Enders said. “We’re all kind of going to play the guessing game to a certain extent tomorrow because there’s definitely been more moisture on the track since we got to run earlier, so it’ll be scraped and dried and probably totally different tomorrow.

“I’ll leave the heavy thinking up to my guys. I just need to concentrate on doing my job in the car and we should have a great chance.”

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

Pro Stock champion Erica Enders hoping for Mopar magic at Dodge NHRA Nationals

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READING, PA — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders is hoping for a little Mopar magic during the Dodge NHRA Nationals this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.

Enders posted her best qualifying effort of the season at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver earlier this season, grabbing the No. 2 spot. She hopes for similar success at another Dodge-sponsored race, this time in Pennsylvania.

“At our last Dodge race this year, we had our best qualifying performance,” Enders said. “Hopefully that translates to Reading.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar team haven’t had the season they expected after switching manufacturers for 2016. Enders won 15 races and two championships over the 2014-15 seasons, but a raft of changes have hindered her efforts this season.

Behind Enders and her team all season, however, has been the backing of Dodge.

“We are appreciative of all of the support from Mopar,” Enders said. “They have definitely given us a great team of people and engineers and guys who are passionate about what they do like we are, so it’s refreshing to continue to work with people that go the extra mile.

“It’s a cool partnership, and I believe with the group of people we have, the sky’s the limit. It’s just going to take time to build this program.”

Enders sits 10th in the Countdown to the Championship after two races of the six-race stretch that closes the season.

“We’ll continue to work on it,” Enders said. “We’ll get better. It’s a brand-new engine program. I have the smartest, hardest-working guys in the business, so if anybody can figure it out, it’s them.”

As part of the Dodge sponsorship of the race, the Mopar Mega Block Party will be held at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading on Thursday night.

“We have plans to go to the Mopar Block Party on Thursday, and we’ll enjoy that with all of the diehard Mopar fans,” Enders said. “It’s always a lot cooler in Reading, which is definitely a nice break from racing in the heat of the summer, and the cars run better up there. We look forward to going up there and probably running faster than we have run all season.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 11:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast qualifying action live from 6 to 7 p.m., Friday. Eliminations will air live from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

Erica Enders exits in first round of St. Louis national event

Erica Enders | NHRA Midwest Nationals 2016

ST. LOUIS, MO — Erica Enders raced to the Pro Stock final at Gateway Motorsports Park as part of her run to the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship.

There likely will be no such similar run this season after Enders was knocked out in the first round of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. In her first season running the Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge, Enders has struggled to maintain her stellar performance from 2014-15, when she swept to back-to-back titles.

“We are absolutely doing the best that we can with what we have,” Enders said. “It’s unfortunate that we are this far behind, but it’s just part of it. Our goal at this point is to finish the season with class and put a game plan together moving forward. We will get all of our ducks in a row and continue to work hard and things will swing back our way.”

Enders ripped off a .011-second reaction time in her first-round match with Jason Line, but the Pro Stock points leader was good, too, with a .009 light. Line then powered to the win light with a pass of 6.609 seconds at 209.43 mph while Enders made a run of 6.699 seconds at 206.35 mph.

Enders is 10th in the Pro Stock points standings, two races into the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Enders did enjoy the support of her fans in St. Louis, where she won in 2012 and 2013. As her team broke down their pit area at Gateway, Enders signed numerous autographs and spent time with fans, including a young Jr. Dragster driver who gave Enders her hero card.

“The fans are always great,” Enders said. “They continue to stand behind us through the adversity that we are facing and offer up words of encouragement, which is definitely good to hear from time to time.

“We’ll get back to where we belong. It’s just not in the cards for this season.”

Pro Stock champion Erica Enders rebounds to qualify No. 11 in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, MO — There’s no quit in Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team.

Despite missing the race in Charlotte last week, the two-time Pro Stock champions battled back to qualify No. 11 for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

“They are amazing,” Enders said. “They work really hard. It’s frustrating and disheartening to see how hard they work and not have it translate to the scoreboard. At this point, this year is a letdown and we will just focus on getting our ducks in a row for 2017.

“It’s unfortunate to follow up back-to-back championships with the performance we have had this year, but you know, it goes in cycles and that’s part of it. This sport will humble you in a heartbeat, and I’ve learned that the hard way many times, but having said all of that, I’ve been through a lot worse than this, so we’ll be fine.”

Enders’ best lap this weekend was 6.663 seconds at 207.08 mph, and she made four decent
passes in qualifying here after a myriad of issues forced a DNQ in Charlotte last weekend.

“The struggle continues with our Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart, but all we can do is continue to pick away at it and work on it,” Enders said. “Hopefully we’ll turn a corner at some point, but until that happens, the results are the results.”

Enders will face No. 6 qualifier Jason Line in the first round Sunday. Line’s best run of the weekend was 6.611 seconds at 209.43 mph.

Enders is a two-time St. Louis winner who enjoys spending time with the Gateway fans.

“I always enjoy racing in St. Louis,” Enders said. “I have a lot of great memories here from the time I was racing Super Comp and Super Gas, so it’s definitely fun to come back here.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday, and will air live from 1 to 4 p.m. on FOX Sports 1. (All times listed in CT).

‘No quit in this pit’ is battle cry for defending two-time world champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock | Mopar

ST. LOUIS, MO — A season ago, Pro Stock superstar Erica Enders was putting a stranglehold on her second straight Mello Yello world championship with a runner-up finish at the annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, which takes place again this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park. It was her fourth consecutive final-round showing and ninth of 11 she would amass during the year.

This year it’s a different story. Enders once again is part of the Countdown to the Championship, but this time she’s 10th in the 10-car field and coming off her first DNQ in six years.

“Same engine builders, same crew, same owner, just different results,” Enders said. “It’s been frustrating but at the same time we’ve learned a lot about ourselves as a group. The last few years we always said, ‘Teamwork makes the dream work,’ and it was so appropriate for the way things were going at the time.

“This year, as it’s gone along and we haven’t found the success we were expecting, our little saying has turned into, ‘No quit in this pit,’ and once again it’s absolutely true. You find out what people are really made of when things aren’t perfect. When you’re winning, it’s easy to jump on board. This year, character has been revealed, and this team of guys has more than any group I’ve ever come across.”

A switch to a new manufacturer has hampered Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar race team to a certain extent, and when you add in the biggest rule changes since the class’ inception more than three decades ago — most notably switching to electronic fuel injection — the group has struggled to find a new groove.

“Just like there’s no quit in this pit, there are no excuses either,” Enders said. “Other teams have figured out the fuel injection better than we have, so it can be done. We’ll get there ourselves; it’s just taking longer than we thought.

“Most of the guys on the team, aside from really important family stuff, haven’t taken a day off this whole year. No one is happy with our performance but no one has complained or quit the team to go somewhere else. I think I’m more proud of these guys this year than I have been the two years we won the championships. That’s saying a lot.”

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 start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast qualifying action from 6-7 p.m., Friday. Eliminations will air live from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in CT).

Back-to-back world champ Erica Enders fails to qualify for first playoff race

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders began her march to a second straight world title last year with a convincing victory at the NHRA Carolina Nationals. This year, she hit a season low, failing to qualify for the first time since the second Pomona (Calif.) race in 2010.

“That’s all the way back to when I drove for the late Jim Cunningham,” Enders said. “It’s no secret, this year has been a struggle for us. Someone just asked me how you bounce back from something like this and I said it’s with the best guys in the world, and that’s what I’ve got with (team owner) Richard Freeman and everyone at Elite Motorsports.

“You look at our crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, Mark Ingersoll, Brian Self, the engine guys Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston, and everyone else in this pit and you just see champions. You find out what you’re really made of during the tough times and we’ve had plenty this year, but there’s no quit in this pit and we’ll carry on from here.”

Enders and company swapped manufacturers this year in debuting her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart and have struggled with the newly mandated Pro Stock rules calling for electronic fuel injection, shorter wheelie bars, and rpm limitations.

“It’s just growing pains,” Enders said. “We’ll get this thing figured out and we’ll be back on top.

“I’m proud of the sponsors that have stuck with us. We’ve got Mopar, Melling, Mark Stockseth, United Mechanical, Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants, CFE, and everyone from Transportation Impact, many of which made the drive up from Emerald Island (N.C.) for this race. I feel bad for them because we didn’t do better, but now we’ll be able to spend more time with all the employees while we root for our teammates.

“Adversity only makes you stronger. We’ll be alright.”

Enders won’t have long to wait for redemption as the fourth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals takes place Sept. 23-25 at Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis.

Defending event champion Erica Enders returns to Charlotte in a vastly different role

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CHARLOTTE, NC — One year ago, Pro Stock racer Erica Enders arrived at the first race of NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs as the No. 1 seed, having won six regular-season national events, including the previous two stops in Brainerd, Minn., and Indianapolis.

This year, as Enders brings her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart back to zMax Dragway for the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, things are much different. Her dominating run to back-to-back championships hangs in the balance as she finds herself a distant ninth in the rankings with no victories on her 2016 scorecard.

“It’s been a challenging year, no doubt,” Enders said. “Very different from the last two years. Switching manufacturers and making this commitment with Mopar to put them on top, we kind of knew it would take a little time and it has. Then we had the biggest rule changes in class history. It all kind of added up.

“We started a little behind and it feels like we have been in catch-up mode all year. But we have made progress, and having another week at the shop to try more things should help us in Charlotte. There are reasons to be encouraged.”

Ever the optimist, Enders has found a way to put a positive spin on her lackluster regular season as her Elite Motorsports team has struggled to get the newly mandated fuel-injection systems to match their powerful Hemi motors.

“The word that keeps popping into my head is loyalty,” Enders said. “When we were crushing everyone, there was a line out the door of people wanting to talk to us. This year, we’ve found out who our real friends are, and it’s made me so grateful to the companies and individuals that are there for us through thick and thin.

“Mopar has been awesome. They want this as much as we do. Transportation Impact has been great, and they have more than 100 employees coming up from Emerald Island, N.C., this weekend to cheer us on. Mark Stockseth is a rock. Stan and Sheila Holt of Lupe Tortilla have been with me since I raced Jr. Dragsters; I love them. Kim and Steve Bruno with United Mechanical, everyone at Melling, Carl Foltz and his group at CFE, these are the people who are true supporters, and we love them all.

“Motivation for me is never a problem, but putting this select group back on top, that’s what drives us all. And like I say every weekend, I wouldn’t trade my guys for anyone. There’s no quit in this pit. I really am a lucky girl.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:15 and 5:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast qualifying action from 6 to 7 p.m., Friday, and 11 a.m. to noon, Sunday. Eliminations will air live from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

Erica Enders clinches playoffs spot, will battle for another Pro Stock championship

Erica Enders | Indy 2016 US Nationals

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team secured their chance to race for a third consecutive championship during the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Enders, who won the 2014 and 2015 NHRA Pro Stock titles, wrapped up a spot in the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs when teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. lost in the first round. Coughlin got some good news in the second round when Alex Laughlin lost, landing Coughlin in the Countdown as well.

“This is pretty amazing,” said Enders. “We’ve had our fair share of challenges, but now to have both of our Elite Performance/Mopar Dodge Darts in the Countdown to the Championship is huge. I hate it for Alex because he’s one of the nicest guys out here, but I’m excited for Team Mopar. The championship is a tall order, but we’re prepared to dig deep.”

Enders, Coughlin, and Laughlin battled for the final two spots in the top 10 of the Pro Stock points standings, as only the top 10 are eligible for the championship when the Countdown begins in two weeks in Charlotte.

Enders had rallied from 11th in points after the race in Sonoma to ninth two races later. She won on holeshots in the first round in the last two races to help her cause, beating Laughlin in E1 in Seattle and Shane Gray in E1 in Brainerd, Minn.

Enders, the defending U.S. Nationals champion, displayed her driving skill again in the first round at Indy on Monday. Against the higher-qualified Gray, Enders left first with .014-second reaction time, but her pass of 6.680 seconds at 207.02 mph wasn’t enough to hold off Gray. He had a .029 light and then made a pass of 6.644 seconds at 208.14 mph to reach the second round.

“It’s no secret we’ve had some struggles this year, but I believe in my team,” Enders said. “They’ve proven time and again that when the pressure is on, they rise up and perform. I have no doubt that we’ll be able to do that again come Charlotte and beyond.”

The points will be reset heading into the Countdown, with Enders starting in ninth place, 100 points behind the leader.

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