Archive for the NHRA Category

Perfect Light the Only Thing that Goes Right for Enders-Stevens in Brainerd

Erica Enders-Stevens transmission issues cut Brainerd eliminations short

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 17) — Elite Motorsports pro Erica Enders-Stevens was certainly ready for her first-round race against Dave River, recording a perfect reaction time of .000-second to jump off the starting line in what appeared to be another victorious quarter-mile run. But just a few hundred feet later Enders-Stevens’ Camaro fell silent, and for the first time all year she was handed a first-round loss.

“We changed everything there was to change on the race car because of this big swing in the weather, and this time something got us,” Enders-Stevens said, referring to an overnight 30-degree drop in ambient temperatures. “I mean we can go down the Ho Chi Minh trail with this car. We go A to B every time, so it’s a little mind-boggling when it doesn’t happen.

“We came back to the trailer, analyzed the data, and immediately found what went wrong. Suffice it to say all of those parts are going in the trash, and now we’ll just reload and put this day behind us. We’ll get to the shop for a few days and then head right back out to test. We want to make absolutely certain this never happens again.”

With the loss, Enders-Stevens is in jeopardy of losing the points lead she has held for the last 13 races, a span of five months. Close friend Allen Johnson entered this event 32 points behind Enders-Stevens and advanced to the second round before yet another rain delay halted the action.

“It won’t be a great feeling if we lose the points lead,” Enders-Stevens said. “It was a really cool moment personally to go up on stage at driver intros and put my name up there in the No. 1 spot on the Countdown leaderboard. No woman has ever done that in the playoff era of drag racing and we really want to be the first. I guess we’ll have to see what happens with Allen.”

The Elite Motorsports team next competes Aug. 29-Sept. 1 at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

“Hopefully, we get to Indy and get back to doing what we’ve done all year, which is consistently getting down the racetrack and turning on win lights,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got all the faith in the world in my guys and I know that we’re the best team out here. I’ve said that after every race this year, and it’s never more true than right now. I’m a lucky girl.

“We plan to test a bunch before Indy in St. Louis. We’ll run my car and (husband) Richie’s car until the guys are 100 percent ready for Indy. Having twice the data will only help our cause that much more.”

Enders-Stevens Right on Track as Brainerd Race Turns to Eliminations

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies 3rd at Brainerd

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 16) — Pro Stock championship points leader Erica Enders-Stevens has placed her front-running Elite Motorsports Camaro in solid contention for this weekend’s 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, qualifying third in the factory hot rod class with a swift 6.630 at 207.69 mph.

“I’m so happy to be driving again,” said Enders-Stevens, who last arced July 20 in Denver. “Thankfully, it’s kind of like riding a bike where everything came right back to me the first pass down the strip. Obviously, the team picked up right where we left off as well. I’m a happy girl.”

The points leader for the last 13 consecutive national events, Enders-Stevens skipped the last two races on the Mello Yello tour as her team prepares for the upcoming Countdown to the Championship. The NHRA’s six-race version of playoffs begins mid- September in Charlotte.

“Any time you’re out of the seat for an extended amount of time it’s tough on you,” Enders-Stevens said. “Seat time is priceless and it was hard staying home when everyone else was racing, but we had to be patient and see the bigger picture, which is the championship. It really does feel good to be back in the car, though, for sure.”

By qualifying No. 3 on the ladder, Enders-Stevens will begin her quest for a second Brainerd trophy opposite Dave River, who qualified 14th with a 6.793 at 204.23 mph. The two have raced just once this season with Enders-Stevens taking the win.

“We had a huge lead but that’s gone so we definitely have our work cut out for us,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve had the dominant car all year but a couple of teams have started to catch up. The two Summit cars are right there, which always seems to be the case in the second half of the year, and my buddy Allen Johnson is just a round and a half back. Jeg (Coughlin) is right there also.

“Our focus is on the Countdown and we’d love to be No. 1 heading into that deal but if we’re not, that’s okay also because we’ll be right there in the mix no matter what. The fight is going to take place among the same group of drivers and we need to be ready for it, no matter where we all start. I’m not worried about the start; I’m focused on the finish.”

Qualifying action from BIR will air at 10 p.m. CT, Saturday, on ESPN2. Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday, with ESPN2 airing all the action in tape-delay beginning at 8 p.m. CT.

Pro Stock Points Leader Enders-Stevens Ready for Brainerd Return

Enders-Stevens Ready for Return at Brainerd

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 12) — No other driver is probably more excited for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals this weekend at Brainerd Int’l Raceway than Elite Motorsports Pro Stock ace Erica Enders-Stevens, who sat out the previous two races on the NHRA schedule while her team prepared for Brainerd and the Countdown to the Championship.

“Everyone worked really hard during the two weeks we weren’t racing,” Enders-Stevens said. “We should be better than ever, and we’re excited to get back at it.

“The guys have been working really hard in the engine shop. They left this morning to go to (co-crew chief) Rick (Jones’) to get the car fine-tuned, and then we’ll head to Brainerd.”

Enders-Stevens remains the points leader in the ultra-competitive class, an indication on how strong she and her Elite team have been in 2014. In 14 races, they have four victories in five final-round appearances, with two more semifinals and two No. 1 qualifiers. She has not lost in the first round all season and has qualified third or better 13 times.

“We looked at the math leading up to Denver to see if it would be feasible to miss those two events,” Enders-Stevens said. “It worked out to where we still kept our lead, even though it’s a small lead. But it doesn’t matter if you have a 1 million-point lead or a one-point lead when you leave Indy: It all goes back to zero.

“Our plan is do to well, be consistent in Brainerd and Indy, and hopefully go into the Countdown as the No. 1 seed and work from there.”

Enders-Stevens has one victory at Brainerd, in 2012. She also reached the final here in 2011 and currently holds the track record of 6.542 seconds, set in 2012.

In addition to getting ready for Brainerd, Enders-Stevens and her team have prepared for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and the Countdown, which begins in Charlotte on Sept. 12.

Enders-Stevens will have husband Richie Stevens as a teammate for Indy and the Countdown, and Elite will supply engines for Shane Tucker in Indianapolis.

“We took the two weeks off so the guys in the shop could work on things,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’re going to have three drivers with Elite Performance power starting in Indy, and we took the time to get all our ducks in a row. We’re going to come out swinging.

“I’m ready. It will be great to get back behind the wheel.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3 and 5:30 p.m., Friday, and 1 and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Championship Leader Enders-Stevens Gains Title Support of Mach 1 Global Services

erica-wally-norwalk

TEMPE, Ariz. (Aug. 7) — Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens will challenge for the 2014 NHRA championship with Mach 1 Global Services on the side of her powerful Elite Motorsports Camaro. The global logistics company, which has supported Enders-Stevens in the past, signed on as title sponsor for the remainder of the season, beginning with the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals in Dallas. Geiger Media Global brokered the deal.

“We’re so excited to reunite with Erica,” CEO Jamie Fletcher said. “We’ve certainly kept up with her career since we first started supporting her in 2008, and we’re definitely impressed with the season she’s putting together.

“Being a woman in a male-dominated industry, Erica and I share a special bond because we’ve faced many of the same obstacles in our respective careers. She’s been a real inspiration to so many young women, and to see her in the winner’s circle so many times since we’ve met always serves as personal motivation for me.”

Mach 1 Global Services, Inc.

Using Elite Performance horsepower, Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock class with four victories this season, also winning the non-points K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas. She has collected at least one round-win at every race and has led the points standings after 12 of 16 national events. She’s currently 32 points ahead of Allen Johnson with two regular-season races left on the schedule.

The Houston native’s victory on July 6 in Norwalk, Ohio, was the 10th of her career, making her only the third female to post double-digit national event victories in NHRA history (along with three-time series champions Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney). She’s the most successful woman in Pro Stock class history with 10 career victories, eight No. 1 qualifiers, and 144 elimination round-wins. She is the only female to have won or been the top qualifier in Pro Stock.

“Jamie and her dad (Mike Entzminger) are like family to me,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s been neat to see Jamie take Mach 1 Global Services over since we partnered with them in the past and succeed the way she has in a really tough industry. They will fit in great with Richard (Freeman, owner of Elite Motorsports) and the rest of the team.

“There’s some real synergy having a female-owned business supporting a female driver. I think it’s something special and really something we should be proud of.

“Our hope is that we win the championship together with Mach 1 on the doors. We also want to make sure we bring as much attention as possible to their services and help them grow along with us. The best way to do that is to keep winning. We have some work to do before the Countdown starts and then we’re going all-out to win the title.”

Mach 1 is a global provider of transportation and logistics solutions. They offer a full portfolio of integrated freight forwarding services via air, ocean, and ground to all major destinations and ports worldwide. Mach 1 is a licensed U.S. customs broker with more than 26 years of industry experience and has 30 company-owned offices in the U.S., Mexico, China, and India, along with best-in-class strategic partnerships around the globe.

Elite Motorsports offers a wide variety of semi transporters, motor coaches, gooseneck and stacker trailers, specialty hospitality and point-of-sale units, and new and used high-performance engines, race cars, and racing equipment.

Enders-Stevens returns to action August 15-17 at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Plan of Attack Stays the Same for Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports

Erica Enders-Stevens Norwalk burnout

DENVER, CO — Allen Johnson may be the king of the mountain, but the queen of Pro Stock is ready to knock him off his perch.

Johnson has been to the final round seven years in a row at Bandimere Speedway — winning five times — but Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team are looking to end his two-year winning streak at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals this weekend.

“I’m going to do everything I can to stop him,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens and her husband Richie are good friends with Johnson and his wife Pam, but friendships are put aside when helmet visors are closed.

“They’ve been the king of the mountain for a lot of years, and the Mopars always run really well at altitude, Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) and V. Gaines included,” Enders-Stevens said. “But our job is to do our best every weekend and make a run for the trophy. That plan won’t change for this weekend.”

Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock standings by 241 points over Johnson and is coming off her class-leading fourth victory of the season in Norwalk, Ohio, on July 6.

Bandimere Speedway is a different animal than every other track because its mile-high altitude affects horsepower and the tune-up, but Enders-Stevens and her team are ready for anything.

“It’s a challenge racing at altitude from a tuning standpoint and from a driving standpoint,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’ll be a very interesting weekend. We need to stay focused on the task at hand, and that’s to be consistent and go rounds. Going rounds gets more points, obviously, and that’s very important.”

Denver is one of Enders-Stevens’ favorite stops on the NHRA schedule, as she has raced there for years, dating back to her Sportsman days.

“We’ve been friends with the Bandimere family a long time,” Enders-Stevens said. “What they’ve done for our sport has been awesome, and the hospitality they offer is second to none.

“It’s going to be a hot weekend, but their cooling system in the track will help keep track temps at a manageable level. I’m appreciative to the Bandimere family for always providing us with a great facility, and we look forward to coming to Denver every year.”

Enders-Stevens will also participate in the Go Red For Women Track Walk at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday morning in support of the American Heart Association.

“It raises awareness for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women,” Enders-Stevens said. “Everybody is invited and be sure to wear red!”

Qualifying for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals is held at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m. MDT, Friday, and at 3:15 and 5:45 p.m., Saturday. Final eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all qualifying and elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

Enders-Stevens Caps Dominant Weekend with Norwalk Victory

Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team in the winner's circle at Norwalk

NORWALK, OH — The impressive numbers keep piling up for Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens after winning the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park.

Enders-Stevens’ victory:

  • Was her fourth of the season, which leads the class
  • Was the 10th of her career, joining Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey as the lone women with double-digit pro national-event wins
  • Was the 199th for Chevrolet in Pro Stock
  • Capped off a perfect weekend for her and her team, as she was quickest in all eight rounds, covering qualifying and eliminations
  • Pushed her points lead to 241, the biggest in any of the four pro classes.

But perhaps her proudest number was .015, as in her reaction time in seconds in the final round against Dave Connolly. That allowed her to get a quick lead, and her pass of 6.632 seconds at 210.14 was more than enough to send her to victory lane.

“I’m proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They put a great race car under me. You have to leave the emotion out of it, regardless of how I feel, regardless of how he feels. When I go up there, it’s all about my team, my car, our lane, me, and that tree. I’ve got to get my job done and not think about any of the negative things. We were able to do that today, and a big reason is because we have a really fast, consistent race car.”

Enders-Stevens also exorcised some personal demons that have plagued her over the last few races. Every NHRA driver has lost on holeshots in their career, but Enders-Stevens was determined to not let that happen this weekend, especially after grabbing the No. 1 qualifier.

Erica Enders-Stevens wins in Norwalk

The pole winner hasn’t won in Pro Stock since the U.S. Nationals last year, but Enders-Stevens and her team wanted that streak to end in Norwalk.

“When we got it I was like, ‘All right, it’s our job to bust it.'” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m just glad we could get it done, and that’s a big part of this game: Having a positive mental attitude and focusing on the things you want and not dwelling on the negative things or the distractions on the outside.”

And she joined Sampey (41 victories) and Muldowney (18) as the only females with double-digit wins.

“It’s crazy to have my name on a list like that,” Enders-Stevens said. “Shirley’s a legend and has been a mentor to me. Angelle’s been great, too. She’s a friend of mine and lives 20 minutes from our house in New Orleans.

“They’re two extremely talented ladies who are passionate about our sport. They were able to break down the barriers so girls of this generation can do what we do. I’m appreciative of them for that. To have our name on a list with those two names is pretty significant and means a lot to me.”

Enders-Stevens missed on getting the 100th victory by a female in NHRA, but she’d love to give Chevrolet its 200th win in Pro Stock.

“That would be very cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “The 100th win for females is very significant and we were 99 and 101, so we missed it by a little, but 200 for Chevy would be very cool. We certainly have the hot rod to do it, and I’m driving better.

“We’re not focusing on the big picture. Let’s just focus on the task at hand, and that’s one day, one round at a time. We were able to execute that way.”

Elite Motorsports’ Enders-Stevens Secures Pro Stock Pole at Norwalk

Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in Norwalk

NORWALK, Ohio — Erica Enders-Stevens will take a dominant Elite Motorsports Camaro into final eliminations for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in all four qualifying sessions this weekend, earning her second No. 1 of the season, the eighth of her career and second in Norwalk.

“We’ve got a really consistent hot rod right now,” said Enders-Stevens, who also was No. 1 here in 2011. “(Crew chiefs) Rick and Rickie Jones have got the setup down pat. In the first session today we used as our race day setup because those will be the conditions we’re going to race under tomorrow. We had the worst lane for Pro Stock, the left lane, and we went up there and tried some things that are going to work for tomorrow, hopefully.

“I’m just really proud of my team, proud to be their driver. Consistency is what’s going to get it done.”

Enders-Stevens’ best pass was 6.523 seconds at 212.63, lowering the track record in both categories. The Pro Stock points leader will line up against No. 16 qualifier Travis Mazza in the first round Sunday. Mazza will make his first career start after a pass of 7.365 seconds at 200.86 mph.

Earning bonus points from qualifying will increase Enders-Stevens’ points lead, which was 190 coming into the race.

“It’s the first time it’s happened in my Pro Stock career, but we’ve got a lot of racing left,” Enders-Stevens said. “We try to put that aside and just try to be consistent week in and week out. That’s what’s going to get it done. It’s pretty surreal. For me, I’ve watched a lot of these guys since I was a kid. It’s an honor to be where I’m at. Very humbling and exciting.”

Enders-Stevens brought a renewed attitude to Norwalk after a talk with Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden earlier this week. Enders-Stevens has been in a minor slump on the starting line, but Glidden pumped her up with some positive reinforcement as well as good advice about the race car.

“Bob called me and he was like, ‘Erica, what the hell is going on?’ ” Enders-Stevens said. “We talked for almost an hour and went over almost every aspect of it.”

One suggestion Glidden made was for Enders-Stevens to talk to the father-son crew chief team about changes made to the race car and how it affected her driving.

“Things are coming around,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve had good reaction times through qualifying, and we’ll see if that parlays over into race day. I just have a new outlook. I need to enjoy where I’m at. I’ve been having fun, but I’ve been putting a little too much pressure on myself. I needed to get the head game side of it straight, and I feel good this weekend. I feel confident and I’m not stressed out anymore.”

Enders-Stevens Moves to Number 1, Sets Norwalk Track Record in Friday Qualifying

Erica Enders-Stevens set Norwalk Track Record

NORWALK, Ohio — Looking to extend her current points lead in the NHRA championship standings, Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens topped the leaderboard after the first day of qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals this weekend at Summit Motorsports Park.

Her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro blistered down the track in Q1 with a 6.523-second pass at 212.63 mph, setting a new track record in both top speed and low E.T. While her pass in Q2 wasn’t quite as fast, it was consistent, at 6.528 seconds 212.15 mph, keeping her in the No. 1 qualifier position.

“That was pretty exciting,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve had a couple off weekends lately, more so me as a driver. The guys have really worked hard and I couldn’t be more proud to throw up the numbers we put up today. We were hoping for even better numbers this evening but the starting line got a little challenging.

“We’ll see what we’re dealt tomorrow but I have a lot of faith in my guys. They’ve given me a very consistent race car and that’s really all a driver could ask for. I’ve been able to work on my side of things and they’ve been more than willing to help. I feel good this weekend. I feel confident and most of all I’m having fun.”

Not only have conditions this weekend been better than ever for Norwalk, they may be the best they have seen all season so far for the Pro Stock class. With such great conditions, Enders-Stevens and the Elite Motorsports crew are preparing to make even better passes when qualifying continues Saturday.

“This is abnormal weather up here for this time of year,” Enders-Stevens said. “I remember 2012 here when it was 108 degrees in the shade and how brutal that was. These temperatures are really nice and something you don’t quite often see in the summer months so we should be able to get after it more.

“Providing the starting line is better tomorrow, you’ll see better times, but it just depends. The track is great, it’s just the first four feet we have to navigate that is really crucial in Pro Stock. Rick and Rickie Jones, my crew chiefs, have done a really great job with that though.”

Qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will continue at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m., Saturday with eliminations beginning at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

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