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Independence Day an Important Holiday for Elite Motorsports Driver Enders-Stevens

Erica Enders-Stevens Route 66 Raceway

NORWALK, Ohio — For Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens, Independence Day is a reminder of all the people who helped make the United States the country it is.

The Pro Stock points leader has shown her patriotism in various forms over the years, including visiting military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Gulf War. She now serves as a spokesperson for Hot Rods for Heroes, an organization dedicated to honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifices for our freedoms.

“It’s an important day for our country, and we need to remember how blessed we are to have the troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to remain free and do what we love to do,” Enders-Stevens said as she prepares to race at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals this weekend at Summit Motorsports Park. “July 4 always helps me keep everything in perspective.”

July 4 is an important holiday for Summit Motorsports Park, as the Bader family traditionally holds a big fireworks show during the race weekend. This weekend, the show will be on July 4.

“They have the best fireworks show around,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got a little buddy named Robert who races Jr. Dragsters there, and every year he comes by my pit to get me and we go watch the fireworks together. I always look forward to that.”

Enders-Stevens also looks forward to the friendliness and professionalism of the entire Summit Motorsports Park staff, from track president Bill Bader Jr. on down. The track has long been known for its hospitality to racers and fans.

Enders-Stevens hasn’t exactly been hospitable to the Pro Stock class this year, as she leads the standings by 190 points at the halfway mark of the season. She has won three times in four final-round appearances — not including the special K&N Horsepower Challenge race in Las Vegas — and is yet to lose in the first round.

After qualifying No. 5 at the season-opener, Enders-Stevens has qualified first or second in 10 of the 11 races since.

But the Elite Motorsports team will not sit on its hands.

“There is absolutely no complacency,” Enders-Stevens said. “Things are just going to get more difficult as the year goes on. We really want to be on top at the end of the year, and we’ve got to remain hungry, consistent, and give it our all.”

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

Enders-Stevens Remains in Full Control of Pro Stock Class

Erica Enders-Stevens Route 66 Raceway Chicago 2014

CHICAGO — Proving how tough the competition is this year in NHRA’s Pro Stock class, runaway points leader Erica Enders-Stevens left the door open for the chase pack to close the massive gap she has opened in the championship standings. But even after a rare quarterfinal loss, Enders-Stevens didn’t lose any ground with her closest rivals also bowing out earlier than expected.

“It just shows you how tough it is out here,” said Enders-Stevens, who enjoys a nine-round lead in the rankings. “Everyone is pushing you every single race. We’re all running on the ragged edge, and when you’re hanging it all out there sometimes it doesn’t go your way.

“It’s fortunate that we didn’t lose any ground in the points, but at the same time the racer inside of me is upset that we didn’t use this opportunity to pad our lead even more. That’s just how we’re all wired. We don’t want to show any mercy.”

After qualifying a lofty second with a 6.594 at 209.65 mph — one of only two runs in the 6.5-second range — Enders-Stevens was able to dispatch Dave River in Sunday’s opening round with a 6.658 at 209.36 mph to River’s aborted 14.169 at 49.29 mph.

“We definitely wanted more out of that run,” Enders-Stevens said. “The humidity really crept up on everyone today and we saw some odd things happening up there. Fortunately, Dave had some issues in his lane and we got the win. The problem was we lost lane choice for the second round and maybe that got in my head a little.”

Against part-time Aussie racer Shane Tucker, Enders-Stevens actually managed to squeeze a little more from her Elite Motorsports Camaro, posting a quicker 6.647 at 208.59 mph against Tucker’s slower but winning 6.658 at 208.71 mph. The difference was the duo’s reaction times, with Tucker leaving .014-second ahead of his good friend Enders-Stevens.

“Getting beat on a holeshot is the worst feeling for a driver because you know the guys gave you a car capable of winning and the driver just didn’t do her job properly,” said Enders-Stevens, a three-time winner this year who has now led the points for nine races. “Everyone told me they didn’t want to hear a word about it because we win as a team and we lose as a team but I feel bad.

“I love these guys and I love my team owner, Richard Freeman, for everything he’s done. All I want to do is make them proud of me, and the fact they were so supportive today shows you how awesome they are. We’ll be fine. The best thing to do when something like this happens is to get on to the next race as fast as possible and fortunately we race next weekend, so we’ll get ready for that and move on.”

Enders-Stevens will be back on track Friday for the first two rounds of qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

Points Leader Enders-Stevens Locks up No. 2 Qualifying Spot in Chicago

Erica Enders-Stevens Chicago 2014

CHICAGO — Pro Stock championship leader Erica Enders-Stevens will begin her quest for another Chicago triumph from the No. 2 qualifying position after posting a competitive 6.594-second quarter-mile pass at 209.65 mph in qualifying for the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals.

“This Elite Motorsports Camaro is running so strong this weekend, just like it has been all year, really,” Enders-Stevens said. “In four qualifying passes we went 6.59, 6.60, and 6.61 twice. That’s the kind of crazy fast speed and consistency that wins races.

“The guys have been sweating it out all weekend. I don’t think anyone expected this kind of heat in Chicago, but it’s definitely summertime now and they adjusted to it perfectly. I can’t tell you how much confidence it gives you as a driver to have a race car that you know is going down the track every run and can post super-quick times. Tomorrow can’t get here fast enough for me.”

As if her fast car isn’t enough, Enders-Stevens, who has held the No. 1 ranking for eight consecutive races, also can rely on the good vibrations of past successes at Route 66 Raceway to give her an additional lift in Sunday’s eliminations, which begin at noon. She won her first ever national event at this facility in 2012, becoming the first female winner in the factory hot rod category. She has since gone on to lock up every notable record for women in the class, including nine national event wins.

“What can I say? I love Chicago,” said Enders-Stevens, a three-time winner this year. “The fans have been so awesome because all of them make a point of sharing their memories of when we won here a couple of years ago, and it’s neat that everyone here takes a little piece of that with them. I’d love nothing more than to do it again and have another party in the Route 66 Raceway winner’s circle.”

As the No. 2 qualifier, Enders-Stevens will open sudden-death eliminations opposite Dave River, who qualified 15th with a 6.766 at 204.17 mph.

“You have to respect every racer because we all know that if you’re good enough to qualify, then you’re good enough to win, so we’ll be up for Mr. River and anyone else we might face off against,” Enders-Stevens said. “Right now, we have a comfortable lead in the points, and that’s all thanks to the hard work these guys have put in at the shop and here at the racetrack. We don’t want to let that slip away, so our focus will remain sharp.”

Enders-Stevens Hoping for Another Memorable Chicago Race

Erica Enders-Stevens in Bristol winner's circle

CHICAGO — The life of Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens changed forever on July 1, 2012, when she scored her first career Pro Stock victory at Route 66 Raceway — and became engaged to Richie Stevens.

Enders-Stevens is hoping to recreate the same kind of magic when NHRA returns for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals this weekend.

“Chicago 2012 is obviously one of the best events in my racing career and in my personal life,” Enders-Stevens said. “We worked seven years to try to get a win in Pro Stock, and for it to finally happen in Chicago — and then for me to get engaged after that — it made for a dream weekend.”

Enders-Stevens has since risen to the top of the Pro Stock ladder, winning eight more times. Three of those victories have come this season, and she leads the points standings in the ultra-competitive class by a whopping 183 points.

Her pairing with Richard Freeman’s Elite team has been a boon to her career, as crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones consistently have her near the top of the field.

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better in every race, including one No. 1 qualifier and seven No. 2s, and she has won at least one round in all 11 races to date, including six semifinal appearances and four finals.

And now she heads to Route 66 Raceway, one of her favorite tracks.

“I’m looking forward to Chicago because it’s always been close to my heart,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s sentimental because it’s where I went to my first final round when I became pro, when I first started, and of course that’s where we got our first win in 2012. I’m looking forward to going back and starting with a clean slate this weekend.”

Her love of the track goes even further back than her pro career, back when she raced the Sportsman classes.

“Even before Pro Stock, I raced Super Comp and Super Gas there,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got a lot of memories there and am looking to making some great new ones with my new team.”

Qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals will be held at 4:30 and 7:15 p.m., Friday, and 4:15 and 7:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports Persevere at New England Nationals

Erica Enders-Stevens at New England Dragway

EPPING, NH — Last week’s winner and current Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens came up just short of bringing home her fourth win of the season at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.

Enders-Stevens put the pedal of her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro down when she ran a 6.518 at 212.73 mph against Larry Morgan to move on to the second round of final eliminations.

But round two was a dead heat between Enders-Stevens and Greg Anderson that ended with both recording 6.551 passes. However, Anderson’s .034 reaction compared to Enders-Stevens’ .046 ended her day earlier than expected.

“We went out and made a nice, clean run in the first round,” Enders-Stevens said. “Thankfully because of that first run we got lane choice for the second round. But when we got back to the pits we found out that we had hurt the motor. We had to thrash to take it out and get back up there in time for the second round. We made it in time but just didn’t get it done against Anderson. It just wasn’t our day to bring home the win but that won’t get us down.”

Even though Enders-Stevens was hoping to score back-to-back wins this weekend, she is still optimistic about how her Elite Motorsports team is working.

“All of the guys did a phenomenal job to turn the car around that fast,” Enders-Stevens said, “and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they put in to give me a great car. That’s not a situation anyone wants to be in during final eliminations but my guys worked their butts off. I do think, though, that if we hadn’t have changed motors before the second round we would have had Anderson beat at the line.”

Enders-Stevens will now turn her focus to prepare for her next race at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, June 26-29, at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago.

Enders-Stevens Hopes to Carry Consistency into Epping Eliminations

Erica Enders-Stevens New England Dragway

EPPING, NH — Erica Enders-Stevens was a model of consistency in four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.

“Yesterday was a really good day,” Enders-Stevens said. “The weather was conducive to some really fast runs. My team continues to give me a consistent race car, and we went 6.48 yesterday and were No. 2 again by two-thousandths, which was fine. I think that’s our seventh No. 2 of the year.”

Enders-Stevens’ quickest pass was a 6.489 at 213.98 mph, only four-thousandths of a second off Shane Gray’s 6.485. She’ll head into eliminations seeded No. 2 and will face Larry Morgan in the first round.

“I’m excited about tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said. “I think today the weather conditions were a little worse, but we were testing some new stuff, so still, even though we were testing we laid down two really nice clean runs and just were getting ready for Sunday.”

Enders-Stevens currently leads the Pro Stock standings with three wins on the season, including one at Bristol Dragway last weekend.

“Expectations are high, as they always are,” Enders-Stevens said. “Momentum is huge in this game, and coming off of a win in Bristol we’re just hoping to carry the momentum. As long as we stay consistent tomorrow, it’s going to be warmer and the track will tend to get a little trickier as it gets hotter, but I’ve got two of the best crew chiefs in the world and we’ll do our best and let God do the rest.”

Eliminations will start at noon, with tape-delay action of the first two rounds broadcast at 1 p.m. on Sunday and live coverage of the semifinals and finals at around 4 p.m. on ESPN.

Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports Team on a Roll Heading to Epping

Erica Enders-Stevens, Rick and Rickie Jones in Bristol

EPPING, NH — Fresh off a victory at Bristol Dragway, Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team will tackle New England Dragway for the first time during this weekend’s Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.

The inaugural race in Epping was held last year, but neither Enders-Stevens nor the Elite team raced that weekend.

“I’m looking forward to going to Epping,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been there before because that was one of the races last year we didn’t have any sponsorship. I’ve heard it was cool and the fans were great.

“We’ll try to carry the momentum from Bristol to there and see how it goes.”

The win in Bristol was her third of the season, and it increased her points lead in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class to 155. The team owned by Richard Freeman, with crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, has been fast at every track this season, so not racing last year in Epping is not a concern to Enders-Stevens.

“We don’t have any data there, but there’s not a racetrack anywhere that my crew chiefs can’t handle,” Enders-Stevens said. “They do a really good job with this race car, and I’m not worried about it at all. We’ll be fine. We’ll take it round by round and day by day.”

The Epping race is the second in a four-week stretch that can tax even the most well-prepared teams. Following Bristol and Epping, NHRA racers will compete in Chicago and Norwalk before getting a week off, then the three-race Western Swing begins.

“We’ve really prepared well for this stretch,” Enders-Stevens said. “The team has really worked hard and put in a lot of time at the shop. I like racing multiple races like this because you’re in the seat every weekend and you get more and more comfortable. I feel like I’m more on top of my job.

“Plus, we’ve got a fast hot rod right now, so my confidence as a driver is high and the morale of the team is terrific.”

Qualifying begins Friday with sessions at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. Eastern. The final two qualifying sessions will take place at 12:15 and 2:45 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN2 will have one hour of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m., Saturday, and a two-hour eliminations show at 2 p.m., Sunday.

Enders-Stevens Captures Elusive Bristol Pro Stock Victory

Erica Enders-Stevens wins in Bristol

BRISTOL, TN — After leaving the final round of eliminations at Bristol Dragway three of the last four years winless, Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens sealed the deal Sunday by scoring her third win of the season at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Capturing the ninth win of her career wasn’t an easy feat, going up against two Pro Stock champions in final eliminations. With a round-one victory over Larry Morgan, followed by red-lights from both Greg Anderson and Jeg Coughlin Jr., Enders-Stevens found herself paired up against Jonathan Gray in the final, but when Gray got a bad start off the line, Enders-Stevens motored her Chevy Camaro to the win with a 6.698-second pass at 207.15 mph.

“Bristol has always been really good to me,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve been to three finals in the last four years here and hadn’t been able to get it done until today. As a driver, sometimes you’d rather be lucky than good, and today was one of those days for us. Jeg should have beat us on paper. Fortunately for us, he went red and we were able to move on to the final.

“I’m really excited about the win but it’s definitely my team’s trophy. They’re the ones that gave me the race car that went A to B when it mattered. We were consistent and performed like a team and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I’ve struggled the last month, but it means a lot to me that they’re so encouraging and never waiver.”

Through it all, Enders-Stevens knew she had continual support this weekend, especially from a special passenger riding alongside her Sunday. An unexpected loss this week of Nicole Stevens, a close relative of Enders-Stevens’ husband, may have put a toll on emotions but Enders-Stevens was able to bring home the win in her honor.

“It’s a very sad situation that shouldn’t have happened the way it did,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m just going to continue to have faith because God has a bigger plan and he needed her in heaven for some reason. I know she was probably riding along with me today. I’m just glad we were able to get it done this weekend after the week that we have had. Winning on Father’s Day is just an added bonus.”

To top it all off, with her win in Bristol Enders-Stevens has extended her championship points lead once again, but this time over Coughlin, who assumed the second spot from his teammate Allen Johnson.

“It’s pretty cool even though it’s unchartered territory for me,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been in this position, so it’s going to be something that I’m going to have to learn how to handle, but with a team like I’ve got I know we’re going to be just fine.”

Enders-Stevens will look to make it two wins in a row when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its next stop for the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals, June 19-22, at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

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