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Enders-Stevens begins defense of 2014 Pro Stock championship

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POMONA, CA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens will begin to defend her 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock world championship this weekend at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

But not much has changed in Enders-Stevens’ mind as she and her team prepare for the Winternationals.

“I guess it really hasn’t completely sunk in because some days it’ll just cross my mind and I can’t believe it,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s pretty cool. The off-season is busy as always, no different than any other. We’re hard at work trying to find money and horsepower.”

Though she hasn’t raced since her triumphant victory in the final round of the final race of 2014, Enders-Stevens remains as focused as ever at the task at hand: Doing her job, one round at a time.

“I haven’t gotten unfocused,” Enders-Stevens said. “What we accomplished last year doesn’t change anything ever. It’s a great accomplishment and really cool, but you can go from hero to zero really quick, week in and week out. I learned that a long time ago. We’ve got our work cut out for us, and we’re going to swing for the fences just like we did last year.”

Enders-Stevens, 31, won her first world championship with a stellar season that included six victories, six No. 1 qualifiers, and national elapsed-time and speed records.

But the championship was in doubt until the final round in Pomona, where Enders-Stevens won the race and the title when Jason Line red-lit.

Now, she returns to the site of her championship brandishing the No. 1 on the side of her Chevrolet Camaro.

“We’re the defending world champions, and it’s a pretty awesome place to be,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been in this situation before, and we’re really excited and honored to carry the No. 1 this year. It’ll be a memorable year, and we’re going to go to Pomona and give it our all and hopefully carry the No. 1 into 2016 also. That’s everyone’s goal.

“We know the target is on our back, for sure, but to be honest it’s been on our back. I don’t know if anything has changed. Last year, we had a very dominant car, and when some people would race us, they’d swing for the fences both performance-wise and from the driver’s seat.

“I don’t think anything will change from our angle,” Enders-Stevens added. “We’re going to stay focused on racing our car and our lane.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Enders-Stevens crowned 2014 Pro Stock champion after NHRA Finals win

Erica Enders-Stevens hoists NHRA Championship trophy

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 16) — Taking fate into her own hands, Erica Enders-Stevens not only captured her sixth win of the season at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals but also the title of 2014 NHRA Pro Stock World Champion.

Surpassing Larry Morgan and Rodger Brogdon in the first two rounds of competition, Enders-Stevens’ Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro continued to step up round after round. But after both her and Jonathan Gray had perfect .000 lights in the semifinals, it was obvious Enders-Stevens wasn’t going down without a fight, advancing to the final round with a 6.494-second pass.

With the championship on the line during the final-round matchup against Jason Line, Enders-Stevens sealed the deal. Both drivers turned on the red bulb, implementing the “first or worst” rule, and Enders-Stevens’ -.002 reaction time beat out Line’s -.011 and secured her first season title.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Enders-Stevens said, “and that’s perfect proof that with the right group of people anything is possible and that’s all through God. I’ve got the right group, a group that stands behind me, and we have a blast together. That’s what it’s all about. Win, lose, or draw we love each other and that’s all that matters.”

Enders-Stevens beats Jason Line for 2014 Pro Stock Championship

Already with numerous accomplishments in the record books, Enders-Stevens joins Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey on an elite list of female NHRA champions.

“They are heroes of mine,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m so thankful for their help and support in this venture. It means a lot to me to have my name on a list with Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey. They’re incredible racers and incredible women.

“What a blessing; this is awesome.”

Starting the dream season with a fresh start at Elite Motorsports, Enders-Stevens always knew that they were capable of going all the way. Her win in Pomona proved that.

“I definitely grew a lot,” Enders-Stevens said. “I learned a lot, I became better, and so did our team. I have them to thank for that. It was a long, hard year. I had to sit out two races and we were still able to accomplish this dream, and it says a lot of what we’re capable of. The sky is the limit.

“We’ve got a lot of great things happening for 2015, and I just couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”

Enders-Stevens hoping for another dream weekend in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — No Pro Stock driver accomplished more at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March than Elite Motorsports’ Erica Enders-Stevens, but she is far from satisfied with her 2014 success in Vegas as she and her team prepare for this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Nationals.

Enders-Stevens won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge race in Las Vegas in March and then doubled up when she went to the winner’s circle in the regular national event.

“I always enjoy racing in Vegas,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s one of my favorite tracks to run at. We had a lot of fun there in the spring and a lot of success, being able to win the K&N Challenge and then double up and win the race on Sunday. That was definitely an exciting showing at The Strip, so I can’t wait to go back.”

Another good showing in Vegas would help Enders-Stevens continue to move up the ladder in the Pro Stock standings. With two races left in the Countdown to the Championship, she sits second, 35 points out of the lead. She has gained two spots in each of the last two races, where she has qualified No. 1 both times and reached the semifinals in each.

Enders-Stevens has four national event victories, five No. 1 qualifiers, and five final-round appearances in 20 races this season, and she also set the national records for elapsed time and speed in 2014.

Winning her first Pro Stock championship is the ultimate goal, but Enders-Stevens and her team are focused on doing the best they can in each round of qualifying and racing.

“Of course, it’s crossed my mind, as far as being the champion is concerned,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s every driver’s goal and it’s our team’s goal as well. We’re going to do everything that we can to get it done.

“Having said that, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. God’s already got a plan, so we’ll do our best and see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens, who last raced at Maple Grove Raceway three weeks ago, is fired up to get back to racing.

“We’re not preparing any different than any other race,” Enders-Stevens said. “The guys have been working really hard in the shop, trying to find more horsepower. We’re excited to get these next two races underway.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1 and 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Pro Stock’s Enders-Stevens Earns Provisional No. 1 Spot after Friday Qualifying in Charlotte

Erica Enders-Stevens is provisionally qualified number 1 after Friday's rounds at zMAX Dragway

CHARLOTTE, NC (Sept. 12) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens doesn’t believe in any No. 1 qualifying jinx.

The provisional No. 1 for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, Enders-Stevens is the only driver in 2014 to win from the No. 1 qualifying spot, so she relishes the chance to get her first pole position in Charlotte.

“It’s only Friday, but it’s really cool to be on top,” Enders-Stevens said. “Those baby points these last six races are going to matter now more than ever. As many as we can rack up will be great. It’s a good start to what’s hopefully a wonderful weekend.”

Enders-Stevens, who won from the No. 1 spot in Norwalk, Ohio, in July, was quickest in both qualifying sessions, earning three bonus points for each. Points leader Jason Line garnered one bonus point Friday, so Enders-Stevens sliced his unofficial lead to 25 points in the battle for the championship.

The Countdown to the Championship begins this weekend, and Enders-Stevens sits second in the Pro Stock standings.

“Baby points, the points you’re awarded for being low for each qualifying session, are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were able to acquire six of those today, so we gained five on Jason.

“It’s a really good start. I’m proud of my team. We struggled the last couple races, in Brainerd (Minn.) and Indianapolis, and at our test session in St. Louis. It’s very refreshing to see Old Red is back to herself.”

Her Chevrolet Camaro made a top pass of 6.591 seconds at 210.11 mph that puts her atop the Pro Stock field.

“We’ve tried hard not to change our mindset at all,” Enders-Stevens said. “We just need to focus on the task at hand — and that’s one round at a time, day by day — and not get too focused on the big picture at the end of the season. We’ve just got to do our job, day in and day out, and make every little point count.

“We had a team meeting this morning where we discussed our goals for the Countdown. It’s the small steps on the way to the big goal.”

Champion Chase on Enders-Stevens’ Mind as Countdown Begins

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CHARLOTTE (Sept. 10) — Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens has had her best season as a professional in 2014, but she’s far from being satisfied.

As the Countdown to the Championship begins with the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals this weekend at zMax Dragway, Enders-Stevens has her sights set on the Pro Stock championship with her red Chevrolet Camaro.

“I’m stoked,” Enders-Stevens said. “We made big strides in the right direction at Indy, and we’ve got ‘Ol Red back. She’s acting right again, and that’s encouraging heading into the Countdown and starting this four-race swing.”

Charlotte not only kicks off the Countdown, it’s the start of a string of races on four consecutive weekends. A stumble in the first race of the playoffs could be detrimental to any title contender’s hopes.

“We’ve got to start out on the right foot,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to have all our ducks in a row as soon as we walk in the gate. We’ve got to stay ahead of the game. It’s very important to start out on the right foot.”

Enders-Stevens has performed well in Charlotte, reaching the final round of the Four-Wide Nationals three years in a row, narrowly missing out on victory.

“We’ve done really well in Charlotte in the past,” Enders-Stevens said. “We love Charlotte. I lived there for a while. It’s a familiar place, and we’ve done a lot of testing at the facility. Bruton Smith has done a fantastic job and it’s a state-of-the-art racetrack.”

Enders-Stevens has won four times this season and led the Pro Stock standings 13 weeks in a row. She’s currently in second place, and after the points were reset following Indianapolis, she’s 30 markers out of the lead.

“There are only 24 rounds of racing left,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to do our job. At this point, I rely a lot on my faith. I know there’s a bigger plan, and we’re not going to get stressed out. We’re going to continue to have fun and do the best we can do and see what happens.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:45 and 3 p.m., Friday, and 1 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Pro Stock Superstar Enders-Stevens Begins Pursuit of First U.S. Nationals Title from No. 5 Spot

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INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 31) — Before Engines Inc. driver Erica Enders-Stevens can dream about winning the U.S. Nationals, she’ll have to get past her husband.

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 5 for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals on Monday at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, meaning she’ll race the No. 12 qualifier in the first round. That happens to be her Elite Motorsports teammate and husband Richie Stevens.

“It’s not what we came here to do, by any means,” Enders-Stevens said. “We brought Richie and his car out because we needed him to take out some of the heavy hitters in points for us, but to come out here and run each other first round.

“I won’t treat running him any different than I treat running (Allen Johnson) or Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) or Jason (Line). It just doesn’t matter who’s over there. We’ll do our best.”

Enders-Stevens snared the No. 5 qualifying spot with a top pass of 6.607 seconds at 208.55 mph. Stevens’ best lap was 6.627 seconds at 208.59 mph in a new Chevrolet Camaro.

Enders-Stevens is trying to regain the No. 1 spot in the Pro Stock points standings after losing it in Brainerd, Minn. She had led the points for 13 weeks in what has been a stellar season, as she has won four races and the special K&N Horsepower Challenge.

She hasn’t qualified outside the top five in all 15 of her races and has two No. 1 qualifiers.

Her Elite Motorsports team, led by crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, has worked to make her Camaro better in Indy, and in the final qualifying session she was .007-second off the best elapsed time.

“We’re making steps in the right direction,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s consistent and we’ll be fine tomorrow. That last run, we were just a few thousandths off from being the fastest of the session. The way it’s running is encouraging.”

Enders-Stevens is racing in Indy for the first time since 2012, when she went to the final round. A U.S. Nationals victory would be a tremendous achievement for any driver, but Enders-Stevens refuses to put any extra pressure on her or her race team.

“It’s prestigious but at the same time it’s just another race,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s not worth more than any other race for points or payout, so our mindset hasn’t changed.

“It would be an added bonus to be able to say you won the U.S. Nationals. We had one stolen from us in 2012 and I’d like to get it back.

“We’ll take it one round at a time tomorrow, do our best, and see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens all Smiles after ‘Beating’ Husband during Indy’s Q3

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INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 30) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens was all smiles Saturday night after moving up the ladder to the provisional No. 5 qualifying spot for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.

And in doing so, she won an Elite Motorsports intramural battle with husband Richie Stevens. The two faced each other in the third qualifying session with pride and bragging rights on the line.

Enders-Stevens got off the line first with a brilliant .007-second reaction time and was never headed, running 6.607 seconds at 208.55 mph. Stevens’ light was .018 and his 6.632-second pass at 208.33 mph came up short.

“I should’ve made a bet but I didn’t,” Enders-Stevens said. “And then we outran him three-hundredths so we won. That was cool. It was fun; it was like we won a round down at the top end. My guys were really happy.

“That run was our best of the weekend, so we were all very excited. It ended up being the third-best for the session, so it’s not too shabby. We’ve got to pick away at it. We’ll get there. Monday is when it matters.”

Stevens is racing as his wife’s teammate for the first time this season, driving a new Elite Motorsports Chevy.

“It was cool to race Richie,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve talked enough crap to each other over the years, and it was nice to line up against him again — and beat him again.

“I’m so proud of him. No one has worked harder than he has, and he deserves to be back out here. I hope we can race against each other again soon.”

Enders-Stevens, meanwhile, is looking to Sunday’s final two qualifying sessions to move up the Pro Stock ladder.

“We’ve gotten better and figured out some stuff,” Enders-Stevens said. “I hope we’ll continue to get better and be faster tomorrow.”

Enders-Stevens Ready to Get No. 1 Spot Back at U.S. Nationals

Enders-Stevens Ready to Get Back Number 1 Spot in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 26) — Engines Inc. driver Erica Enders-Stevens is ready to reclaim her spot atop the Pro Stock points standings during the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Enders-Stevens led the Pro Stock standings for 13 of the 17 races to date, but a parts failure during the first round in Brainerd, Minn., caused her to drop to second.

Indy marks the final race before the Countdown to the Championship, and Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team are looking at the big picture: the Pro Stock championship.

“It’s how we finish the season that’s going to be important,” Enders-Stevens said. “Indy obviously is the most prestigious race of the year, the Super Bowl of drag racing, so I’m very hopeful to go out there and just have a really great weekend and get our No. 1 spot back from Jason Line to go into that No. 1 seed into the Countdown in Charlotte.

“I don’t believe any woman in a professional category has ever gone into the playoffs in the No. 1 position so far. It’s certainly at the top of our list of goals, but it’s not detrimental if it doesn’t happen. We’ll just have to start out swinging in Charlotte as hard as we can and go from there and remain positive and continue to have fun as a team. I’m very optimistic of what we’ll be able to accomplish.”

Enders-Stevens has had a stellar season, winning four national events and the special K&N Horsepower Challenge. She has qualified No. 1 twice and third or better in 14 of her 15 races.

“My mindset is going to be the same as it has been all year,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m extremely blessed to be in the position I am in, with a great team at Elite Motorsports standing behind me. It’s been a dream season up to this point, and we’re hopeful to carry that momentum and that confidence through the end of the year. I’m very optimistic about what’s to come.”

Enders-Stevens did not race at Indy in 2013 but reached the final round in 2012. She fully appreciates the prestige of the U.S. Nationals.

“It’s just got so much history,” Enders-Stevens said. “As a kid, I grew up watching all of the legends that I looked up to — Shirley Muldowney and Bob Glidden and the ones after them — and it’s just been one of those races and one of those facilities that’s so awesome and holds so much history. NHRA held the first Jr. Drag Racing League National Championship there in 1994, and I was part of that.

“In 2001 we got down to three cars out of 174 in Super Comp and then in 2012 we were runner-up in Pro Stock as well, so I feel like I’ve got a lot of unfinished business there and I’m hopeful we can get it done this year.

“It’s just an awesome facility and it gives you goose bumps when you walk in the gate there. It’s one of those deals that’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there and experienced it yourself.”

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