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Rising to the Occasion, Enders-Stevens is Poised for Success in Bristol

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies 3rd at Bristol

BRISTOL, TN — After a slow start to the weekend, Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens turned things around in Bristol with a quick lap during qualifying for the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Following issues in Q1 and Q3 and a decent run in Q2, the Elite Motorsports driver laid down her best time, a 6.631 at 208.17 mph, when it mattered most in Q4.

Enders-Stevens secured the No. 3 qualifying spot, and her Chevy Camaro will pull up to the starting line in round one Sunday to face off against No. 14 qualifier Larry Morgan’s Ford Mustang.

“It certainly wasn’t the start to the weekend that we were looking for, but we were able to lay down a nice, clean run in that last session,” Enders-Stevens said. “We still had some left in it, so that’s encouraging for tomorrow. We did it in the heat of the day with the hottest track temperature all weekend (133 degrees), so it was a pretty nice run.

“I’m proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “I feel really blessed to have such a good group behind me who are always encouraging. It means a lot.”

Even though qualifying didn’t go exactly how Enders-Stevens anticipated, she is confident about her chances tomorrow. Racing at one of her favorite tracks and with a team that is clearly on a hot streak, she will be a favorite before the day is over.

“I do love it here,” Enders-Stevens said. “It always seems that on weekends when we initially struggle, it tends to be a longer race day. I’m hopeful that’s the case tomorrow, but we’ve got a long, hot day cut out for us. There is some stiff competition, but the cream rises to the top, and I’ve got all the faith in the world in my team and in (crew chiefs) Rick and Rickie Jones.

“I know they’ll put a good race car underneath me tomorrow, and it’s going to be up to me. I’m ready.”

Enders-Stevens will look to take home her third NHRA Pro Stock win of the season when final eliminations take place at 1 p.m. Sunday, which will be broadcast later in the day on ESPN2.

Points leader Enders-Stevens Hopes to Keep ‘Dream Season’ Going in Bristol

Erica Enders-Stevens Englishtown Elite Motorsports

BRISTOL, TN — The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has been a “dream season” for Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens, and she intends to keep the dream going during this weekend’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Enders-Stevens leads the points standings by 123 points in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class with two national event victories and a win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge.

At the most recent race in Englishtown, N.J., Enders-Stevens set the national record in elapsed time (6.464 seconds) and speed (215.55 mph).

“Hopefully, we can hold it for a while,” Enders-Stevens said. “Now that it’s the summer months, I don’t think there will be mine-shaft conditions, at least not until Reading. That’s usually the next race where records are broken.

“It meant a lot to us. I know it meant a lot to my team because speed equals horsepower in Pro Stock, and it just goes to show how strong our engine program is. I know Richard Freeman, Nick Ferri, and Jake Hairston are all very proud of it, along with the rest of my team. It’s just another accomplishment in what has been a dream season so far.”

And now she heads to Bristol, one of her favorite NHRA venues.

“Bristol is probably one of my top-three favorite tracks on the tour,” Enders-Stevens said. “I really enjoy going there, and it’s an awesome facility. It’s the South, and the people are all so kind.”

Plus, Enders-Stevens has reached the final round in two of the last three Bristol races, including the 2011 event when she returned to Pro Stock full time after five years.

“That was our first final-round appearance together,” Enders-Stevens said. “Since then I’ve been to one more final there. I haven’t won Bristol, but we’ve been runner-up a couple times. I’m looking forward to going back and going one extra round.”

Enders-Stevens has been busy since Englishtown, traveling to the Chevrolet Performance shop in Detroit with team owner Freeman to take delivery of a COPO Camaro.

“We got to take a tour of the factory and see every step of the production of the COPO Camaro,” Enders-Stevens said. “They only produce 69 cars per year, so it’s very special and it’s an elite group of people who have a COPO car.

“When we got to the end of the line and pulled the car cover off our Camaro, it was an exciting moment for all of us. I had no idea until that day that I was going to be a part of that program with Richard, and he asked that my name be put on the certificate of authenticity alongside his. That was a surreal moment and really exciting for me. I don’t show excitement very much, but that was a pretty amazing moment.”

Freeman made sure Enders-Stevens got behind the wheel with a Chevrolet official, and she drove it around the block before doing some burnouts in the parking lot. The future plan is for her to drive the car at some NHRA races later this season.

After Detroit, Enders-Stevens went to the Elite shop in Oklahoma before heading home for some time before a four-week stretch of races begins with Bristol.

Four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying will feature sessions at 5 and 7:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are slated to start at 1 p.m., Sunday. Both qualifying and elimination action will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Enders-Stevens Officially the Quickest and Fastest of NHRA’s Pro Stock Class

Erica Enders-Stevens Englishtown, New Jersey

ENGLISHTOWN — One day after resetting the national speed record to a blazing-fast 215.55 mph, Pro Stock championship points leader Erica Enders-Stevens added the more valuable elapsed time record to her résumé with a stunning pass of 6.464 seconds Sunday morning at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

While both marks are coveted, the e.t. record helps in the Mello Yello standings because it is worth an additional 20 points, helping the young racer from Houston easily remain on top of the factory hot rod class despite a quarterfinal exit from the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals.

“The cruel part of drag racing is you set both ends of the national record, so you know you have the baddest hot rod on the planet, but you still have to win rounds to win races and the driver didn’t get it done today,” Enders-Stevens said. “I feel terrible for my guys for losing the race but I couldn’t be more proud of them for getting this car into the record books. No matter what, no one can take this weekend and the records we set away from us. Those marks will be beaten one day, but for now we are on top.”

Enders-Stevens used her record pass to dispatch first-round opponent Val Smeland, who encountered traction issues and aborted his run, drifting to an 8.972 at 107.66 mph. That set up a quarterfinal date with her former crew chief, Dave Connolly, who gained enough of an advantage at the starting line, .033 to .064, to hold off Enders-Stevens’ quicker 6.509 at 214.66 mph with a slower but winning 6.539 at 213.91 mph.

“I knew we had Dave covered as far as e.t. goes, but he got me on the Tree today and that was it,” Enders-Stevens said. “My guys were great and they immediately told me we win as a team and lose as a team and reminded me I’ve won a few on holeshots myself, but I still feel lousy.

“I’ll get over it. The main thing is we increased our points lead and the Elite Motorsports Camaro is the undisputed king of the hill for now and that feels great. I feel so honored to be driving this car and working with this team. I’m a happy girl inside.”

After racing three consecutive weekends, Enders-Stevens and her privately-funded race team will now have a chance to regroup before the 14th annual Ford Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals, which takes place June 13-15 in Bristol, Tenn.

National-Record Run Places Enders-Stevens 2nd on Englishtown’s Pro Stock Grid

Erica Enders-Stevens sets new speed record 215.55 mph

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — Championship points leader Erica Enders-Stevens continues to display her dominance of the Pro Stock field, this time posting a national record top speed of 215.55 mph during a 6.473-second qualifying run at the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals. Enders-Stevens’ speed mark raised her own national record by nearly 1 mph, and her elapsed time was the third-quickest in history.

The effort places her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro second on the Pro Stock ladder, just .001-second behind good friend Allen Johnson. She will now begin preparations for a first-round elimination matchup with Val Smeland, who qualified 15th with a partially shutoff 8.017 at 127.94 mph.

Enders-Stevens 215.55 mph timeslip

“I’m really excited about how awesome this car is and how well things are going for us,” Enders-Stevens said. “Raising our own national speed record is very cool because in Pro Stock speed is the best indicator of horsepower, so all glory to the guys once again for making awesome engines.

“We went out there today, in conditions we expect will be very similar to what we’ll have tomorrow, and posted two super-fast passes. What’s exciting is I know there is more in the car. We definitely have something to be pumped up about for tomorrow because I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to run even quicker.”

Enders-Stevens already has backed up her speed mark to make it an official record and her e.t. of 6.473 seconds is just two-thousandths of a second off the national e.t. record, so she already is well within range to set an official record in that category as well. By rule, national-record runs must be backed up with another run within 1 percent of the record at the same race to make it an official mark.

“The primary goal on race day is to get the car from A to B,” said Enders-Stevens, a two-time winner this season who has held the points lead for five consecutive races. “But if the opportunity to set the record is there and the guys feel confident we can go for it, we’re not afraid to try.

“This run we’re on is a great reward for the guys, especially after these last few weeks where they’ve been working around the clock to keep up with the engines, sleeping at the shop sometimes because there’s not even time to go home. I’m so blessed to have this team behind me and I’ve never had so much fun racing.”

Enders-Stevens hopes to write some new history in Englishtown

Enders-Stevens heads to Englishtown

ENGLISHTOWN — Old Bridge Township Raceway Park hasn’t exactly been kind to Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens, but she hopes to make some new history during this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Summernationals.

The venerable racetrack has been one of the highlights of the NHRA schedule for many years, and Englishtown fans are known for their love of drag racing.

Enders-Stevens has yet to score a victory in Englishtown, but husband Richie Stevens Jr. has visited victory lane during his driving career, so she’d love to follow in his footsteps.

“Englishtown has a lot of history with our sport,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s always fun to go back there. It’s been a great track to my husband; he’s won a few times there.”

Enders-Stevens has won twice in 2014 — not including the special K&N Horsepower Challenge — and leads the Pro Stock points standings after eight races. She is off to the best start of her career, thanks to a potent Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better in all eight races, including third or better in the previous seven. Plus, she has been the points leader in the Pro Stock standings for five consecutive races.

Going fast is nothing new for Enders-Stevens, and she hopes for quick runs this weekend after qualifying No. 2 and posting a semifinal finish in Topeka, Kan., earlier this week.

“Englishtown is usually pretty quick, providing the weather cooperates,” Enders-Stevens said. “We get to go back down to sea level, which is nice compared to being in Topeka, so we look forward to that. We’ll run quicker there.”

Englishtown also closes a three-week stretch of consecutive races. After this event, NHRA teams get a week off before starting a four-race stretch. Preparation is crucial to making it through this time of the year, and Enders-Stevens is confident in her Elite team.

“It’s the last race of a three-race swing,” Enders-Stevens said. “We get one week off to catch up in our engine department, and then we get four events in a row. It’ll be pretty grueling, especially in the middle of the summer, but we can handle it.”

Four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying will feature sessions at 4 and 6:15 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are slated to start at 11 a.m., Sunday. Both qualifying and elimination action will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Enders-Stevens maintains Pro Stock points with Topeka semifinal

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TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens has the big picture in mind after reaching the semifinals of the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka.

The semifinal appearance was her fifth in eight races this season to go along with two victories, and she maintained the points lead she’s held for five races in a row.

“If we average semifinals for the rest of the year, we’ll be able to hold the big trophy at the end,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s all about momentum and consistency.”

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better at all eight Pro Stock races this season, including third or better in the last seven. She was No. 2 in Topeka and knocked Deric Kramer in the first round, getting the win when Kramer red-lit.

She then took out No. 7 qualifier Vieri Gaines in round two with a .029-second reaction time and 6.653 at 206.92 mph. Gaines was .058 on the Christmas Tree and slowed to a pass of 15.614 seconds at 54.74 mph.

Then in the semifinals against good friend Allen Johnson, the two cars had identical 6.657-second elapsed times, with Enders-Stevens’ speed at 206.51 mph while Johnson went 206.32 mph. The difference was Johnson’s .022 light; Enders-Stevens was .046 on the Tree.

“We had a good car,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were right there with A.J. The ball was in my court and I missed it. It happens and we’re going to pack up and go on to Englishtown (N.J.). The great news is we have an awesome team.

“We’re going to be fine. I’m disappointed, but there are a lot of other teams that would have loved to have gone to the semi’s today.”

Enders-Stevens and her Elite team were understaffed in Topeka because co-crew chief Rickie Jones and engine maintenance man Jake Hairston were not available. Team owner Richard Freeman jumped in to help with whatever task was needed, and the Elite team performed well.

“We did pretty well with what we had, and my team performed well under pressure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were under a rushed schedule, as NHRA gave us 50-minute turnarounds. We were thrashing because we were down two guys this weekend, and everybody was pitching in to help. Everyone pulled their weight and performed really well under pressure, and I’m proud of them.”

Enders-Stevens the odds-on favorite to capture 100th victory by a female pro

hou-wally

ATLANTA — Entering this weekend’s 34th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals riding a streak of four consecutive final-round appearances, top-ranked Pro Stock racer Erica Enders-Stevens is considered the odds-on favorite to capture the much-ballyhooed 100th victory by a female competitor.

Enders-Stevens and Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria have each carded two victories this year in their respective classes, but even if both manage to race through to the trophy round of the Atlanta race, Enders-Stevens would get the first shot at reaching the milestone because the Pro Stock final takes place just before the Funny Car title round. However, they could both be one-upped by a Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor as three female riders are on the entry list for the event.

“It’s a really exciting deal, and the media along with everyone at NHRA have been putting a lot of emphasis on the chase to see who will be the 100th winner,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’d love to be the one, more for my guys than anything else. They’re the ones that deserve all the recognition. I’m just the lucky person that gets to drive the car.

“Alexis and I are becoming good friends and I’d be super happy for her also. Then you have the girls in Pro Stock Motorcycle and Brittany (Force, Top Fuel) and Courtney (Force, Funny Car), and it’s easy to see that there are a lot of us reaching for the same brass ring.

“No matter who gets it, I think it’s an awesome deal for all of the women who compete and have competed in the past in our sport. Having so many successful female racers is a huge part of what makes NHRA drag racing so unique.”

A total of 14 women have won NHRA national events, with eight-time winner Enders-Stevens ranked a lofty third on the list behind legends Angelle Sampey (41) and Shirley Muldowney (18).

“We all kind of stick together and support one another,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m very close to Shirley and Angelle. They’ve been so great to me. And the girls that are out there racing now, we are all friends. I think more than anything, even though the 100th win by a woman is what everyone is talking about, we really just want to be considered racers. We want to let our accomplishments speak for themselves.”

Enders-Stevens and her privately funded Elite Motorsports Camaro have certainly quieted the critics this season. Aside from her two victories in four final-round showings, she has had the fastest car on the property at half of the first six races of the season. Her top speed of 214.69 mph, which she posted in Gainesville, Fla., set the national record. She has also topped the championship points for the last three races.

“It’s been an awesome start to the year,” said Enders-Stevens, who also won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas. “Our team owner, Richard Freeman, has given us everything we need to win and the guys have lived up to his expectations. Most of all, we’re having fun and enjoying the ride.

“Winning the 100th race, that would add a big bolt of energy to our team. We’re certainly going to do everything we can to make it happen.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:15 and 6:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:30 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry qualifying highlights from 6-8 p.m., Saturday, and elimination action from 9 p.m.-midnight, Sunday.

Pro Stock Leader Enders-Stevens Sets Sights on Houston Hometown Victory

ees-4wide

BAYTOWN, TX — Heading into just the 6th race of the 2014 season, Erica Enders-Stevens has already captured the Pro Stock national speed record, won the K&N Horsepower Challenge, appeared in three national event final rounds, won the SummitRacing.com Nationals in Las Vegas, and became the overall Pro Stock points leader for the first time in her career.

Yet a win at this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway would be even more special.

“This is home. It’s where I grew up watching my dad race and where I started racing Jr. Dragsters,” recalled Enders-Stevens. “My first national event win happened here in Super Gas in 2004, so it’s been 10 years since I’ve been in the winner’s circle at my home track. Making it back there this weekend would be one heck of an anniversary celebration.”

If this season’s performance is any indication, she may have just what it takes.

Her Elite Motorsports team, led by Richard Freeman and co-crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, has developed a consistent race car tailored to Erica’s driving style. The red Chevy Camaro’s 500 cubic inch powerplant from Elite Performance builders Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston routinely delivers some of the highest horsepower in the class when comparing finish-line trap speeds, including the record-setting 214.69 mph speed set in Gainesville.

“It’s been amazing racing with them,” Erica said of her Elite Motorsports crew. “We’re having so much fun together, and I think that translates into how well we communicate with each other when getting the car set up for each round.”

With her arrival in Houston, Erica’s pit will be bustling with family and friends coming to wish her luck.

“It’s always great to come home and see everyone,” said Erica. “I try to get here early so I can spend some quiet time with family before the races, then all weekend it’s family, friends and fans. It’s busy, but fun.”

It’s not just Houston family and friends coming out to support Erica, new associate sponsors have come on board to support the Elite Motorsports team.

Industrial engine builder Engines, Inc., led by Lloyd and Linda Wofford, and Steve and Kim Bruno of Oklahoma City-based United Mechanical have signed on for the remainder of the year, with Mark Stockseth of Stockseth Racing joining the team’s efforts for Houston.

“We’re very fortunate to have the Woffords, Brunos and Mark Stockseth getting behind our program. They’re dedicated business owners who work hard for what they’ve accomplished, and we’re excited to be associated with them as marketing partners,” said Enders-Stevens.

In addition, locally-based synthetic lubricants company, Royal Purple, for which the track is named, is also cheering on the Elite Motorsports Camaro after coming on board with their support earlier in the season.

“This is Royal Purple’s home track as well as mine, so we want to win this here for them and for everyone else who support us,” notes Enders-Stevens.

Friday’s Pro Stock qualifying is set to begin at 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (CT), with Saturday’s sessions at 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Eliminations for all classes begins at 11:00 a.m. Sunday.

TV broadcasts on ESPN2 will air the qualifying program starting at 5:00 p.m. Saturday and the elimination show at 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening.

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