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Determined Enders-Stevens Moves to Third in Pro Stock Standings

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 28) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens left Gateway Motorsports Park on Sunday more determined than ever in her pursuit of the Pro Stock championship.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in six of the seven rounds in which she competed, earned the No. 1 qualifier, and raced to the semifinals of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Plus, she had the better reaction time in her three rounds of eliminations Sunday.

“Awesome weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s obviously not the way we had anticipated it ending, but God’s got a plan and I trust it. We’re going to move on to Reading (Pa.).”

Enders-Stevens moved up to third in the points standings, trailing leader Jason Line by 67 heading to the NHRA Nationals next weekend at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading.

“I could not be more proud of my guys,” Enders-Stevens said. “They work their tails off for me and for us. We have the best car on the property, the best team in the business, the best crew chiefs, and I’m driving well. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, and all my money is on us, like it is all the time. I have all the faith in the world and I’m hungry.

“We’ve got a lot of heart, determination, and perseverance, and we’re going to go to Reading with our chins held high.”

Enders-Stevens started Sunday’s eliminations with a .014-second reaction time and a 6.514-second pass at 212.66 mph that took out No. 16 qualifier Larry Morgan, whose run was 6.651 seconds at 208.78 mph.

Next up was Countdown to the Championship contender Jonathan Gray, but she left first with a .032 light and then outran him with a 6.538-second pass at 212.39 mph. Gray, fifth in the points standings, made a pass of 6.590 seconds at 206.48 mph.

Including all four qualifying sessions, Enders-Stevens was quickest in six consecutive rounds. But in the semifinals against Dave Connolly, her Camaro shook the tires and she pushed the clutch in, coasting to a pass of 15.947 seconds at 52.67 mph.

Connolly trailed at the Christmas Tree, as Enders-Stevens had a .014 light to Connolly’s .022, but he got the win with a pass of 6.576 at 211.46 mph.

“Six in a row and I guarantee if she hooked, it would’ve been seven in a row and going to the finals,” Enders-Stevens said. “But that wasn’t God’s will today and that’s OK. There’s a reason for everything.

“What an awesome opportunity for me to drive this Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro for such an elite group of guys. I’m really proud of them and the sky’s the limit for us. Teamwork makes the dream work.”

Dominant Qualifying Performance Puts Enders-Stevens in Position for Gateway Three-Peat

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (Sept. 27) — Erica Enders-Stevens capped off a dominant performance in qualifying with the No. 1 spot for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in all four qualifying sessions, including her 6.511-second pass at 213.03 mph in Q4 that earned her a fourth No. 1 this season and 10th in her career.

“We were trying to be consistent and have a nice race-day setup for tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said of her pole-winning pass. “The air was similar to qualifying pass No. 3 and pretty similar to yesterday’s as well, so it was conducive for us to go. We talked about it before, for us to go a high .50, low .51, and we were able to accomplish just that.

“I’m really proud of my team. They’ve given me a consistent race car and a fast one at that. I’m excited about tomorrow.”

Sweeping the top spot in each of the four sessions also earned Enders-Stevens 12 qualifying bonus points and unofficially moved her to third in the Pro Stock standings, 47 markers out of the lead.

“We’ve had four really nice runs that we’re proud of,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are definitely ways to nitpick it and improve but Q4 was a good run. I knew when I let the clutch out on that last run.”

Enders-Stevens faces No. 16 qualifier Larry Morgan in the first round Sunday after Morgan made a best pass of 6.612 seconds at 209.95 mph. She’s gunning for her third consecutive victory in St. Louis.

Gateway could be a pivotal race in the Countdown to the Championship, as eight of the Countdown drivers are in the top half of the field. Plus, Gateway marks the halfway point of the six-race playoffs.

“We’ve got a stout group of players out there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us. Our side of the ladder is packed with all three of the Gray (Motorsports) cars, and two of them are in front of us in the points standings.

“We get a shot to control our own destiny tomorrow. We’re going to focus one round at a time. I know I keep saying that, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.

“I’m excited and obviously a positive attitude has a lot to do with it. We’re going to go into tomorrow swinging for it. At this point, we look at it as it’s ours to lose. We’ve just got to do our jobs.”

St. Louis Continues to be Elite Track for Enders-Stevens

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 26) — The love affair with Gateway Motorsports Park continued Friday for Pro Stock racer Erica Enders-Stevens.

The Elite Motorsports driver, who is gunning for her third consecutive Pro Stock victory at Gateway, earned the provisional No. 1 qualifier for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals with a blistering pass of 6.513 seconds at 212.90 mph.

“I love St. Louis; I have since I was a little girl,” Enders-Stevens said. “Coming here and racing in the Sportsman ranks, we had a couple of semifinal finishes in Super Comp and Super Gas. That’s pretty neat when you have a 100-count field.

“I’ve just always liked coming here, and when they brought the races back here in 2012, we were able to win then and in 2013 as well. We’re hoping for a three-peat this year.

“I’m not really sure what it is but there are just some tracks that are really good to certain drivers. I’m glad that this is one of them and I’m certainly glad that it’s in the Countdown at the moment. Day by day, we’ll see how it goes.”

Enders-Stevens’ top pass came in the first qualifying session, and she was hoping for an even quicker run in Q2.

“After that first session we were pleased with the numbers we saw up on the board,” Enders-Stevens said. “That was pretty evident when the No. 2 qualifier was a solid three-hundredths behind us. I’m really proud of my team. We went out there and made some changes for (Q2) and obviously missed it a little bit but should have, could have, would have.

“There was definitely a high .49, low .50 in the car, so we’ll go back and assess and see what happens tomorrow. I’m excited though.”

Two more qualifying sessions are on the schedule for Saturday, when Enders-Stevens could earn her fourth No. 1 of 2014 and 10th of her career.

But perhaps more important is the opportunity to add more qualifying bonus points. Enders-Stevens was quickest in the second session (6.413 seconds at 212.26 mph), earning six bonus points total on Friday.

Enders-Stevens came to Gateway fourth in the points standings after two of the six Countdown to the Championship races, trailing leader Jason Line by 59 points.

“(Qualifying points) are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “I know I said it before but these baby points are going to be like thousandths of a second in Pro Stock racing out there on Sunday. Every little point matters, especially coming into this race. We’re only nine points behind third, 16 behind second, and three rounds behind first, so they all add up.

“We’re just going to take it one round at a time, one run at a time, day by day and do the best job that we can do.”

Enders-Stevens Aims for Dallas Double

Erica Enders-Stevens is looking to double up in Dallas after Charlotte cancellation

DALLAS (Sept. 17) — The weekend at Texas Motorplex is shaping up to be an historic one for Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens.

The Texas native is debuting a new partnership with Mach 1 Global Services, which is backing her powerful Elite Motorsports Chevrolet for the remainder of the season.

Plus, Enders-Stevens is the No. 1 qualifier for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals, which will be completed this weekend before getting another shot at a Wally with the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

“Dallas should be an exciting weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “Not only is it my home state, but we’re debuting a new sponsor there, too. To top all of that off, we qualified No. 1 for the Charlotte race, and we didn’t finish first round there, so it will be a race within a race.”

Enders-Stevens has a chance to repeat her success from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from March, when she won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge before winning the NHRA national event.

“That would be cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll have to see how things go. It’s going to be totally different conditions in Dallas. The track is a narrow-groove facility, so we’ve definitely got to be on our toes there. We get one qualifying hit before we start racing, so we’ve got to have it together when we step on the property.”

Enders-Stevens had a stellar weekend in Charlotte before the race was postponed. She was quickest in each of the four qualifying sessions, earning the No. 1 spot and cutting into Jason Line’s points lead.

She’ll get one qualifying pass down Texas Motorplex on Friday before the continuation of the Charlotte race, which also counts as Q2 for Dallas. Enders-Stevens is slated to race No. 16 qualifier John Gaydosh in Charlotte’s first round.

Dallas’ Q3 and Q4 will also be Charlotte’s second round and semifinals, respectively, with the final being an additional round on Saturday.

Then there’s the Dallas race itself, an event no woman has won in Pro Stock.

“It’d be really neat to win,” Enders-Stevens said. “I make it known everywhere I go how much I love Texas, and to be back in my home state on front of friends and family is very exciting.

“I remember racing A.J. (Allen Johnson) in the final in 2012, and we had an electrical issue. My car shut off when I let the clutch out, so I didn’t even have a chance.

“But it’d be cool to win there. I really want to get that cowboy hat.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens Qualifies No. 1 in Charlotte as Countdown to the Championship Begins

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE (Sept. 13) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens stormed to her third No. 1 qualifier of the season with an impressive performance during the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in both sessions Saturday, capping off her qualifying dominance with a pass of 6.568 seconds at 210.37 mph to earn her ninth career No. 1 and first in Charlotte.

“Things feel better,” Enders-Stevens said. “I stated on Friday that the car was acting right again, and we seem to have our ducks a little bit more in a row than we had at Indy and Brainerd (Minn.). It couldn’t have come at a better time, being that this is the start of the Countdown (to the Championship).

“I also talked about how important it is to start off on the right foot, and the first two days have gone smoothly and I’m hopeful that will continue tomorrow.”

Enders-Stevens was quickest in each of the four qualifying sessions, earning 12 bonus points and helping cut into Jason Line’s lead.

“The points you’re awarded for running low e.t. of every qualifying session, those all add up,” Enders-Stevens said. “We acquired 12 of them this weekend, and Jason, who’s ahead of me in points, got two, so we picked up on him. That’s so, so crucial with only 24 rounds of racing left.”

After the points were reset following the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Line carried a 30-point lead on Enders-Stevens and the rest of the Pro Stock top 10, but Enders-Stevens has already cut that by a third, getting within a round of the lead. Twenty points are awarded for every round-win in NHRA competition.

Enders-Stevens begins pursuit of her fifth victory of the season with a first-round race against John Gaydosh, who was the No. 16 qualifier with a top pass of 6.697 seconds at 206.39 mph.

“Hat’s off to my team, my crew chiefs, and all the guys who worked their tails off to give me a great, consistent race car,” Enders-Stevens said. “That track was pretty tricky this afternoon, being as hot as it was, and they nailed the tune-up. I’m really excited going into Sunday.”

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.

Richie Stevens, Enders-Stevens Present $40K to Serving Orphans Worldwide

NHRA stars Richie Stevens and Erica Enders-Stevens Present Donation to Serving Orphans Worldwide

BRISTOL, TN — Serving Orphans Worldwide (SOW), which supports orphanages and children’s homes across the globe, accepted a $40,000 donation on behalf of Stevens-Enders Motorsports at the completion of the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.

NHRA Pro Stock drivers Richie Stevens and wife Erica Enders-Stevens helped raise awareness of the non-profit organization with branding on their race cars and on-air promotion during the ESPN2 television coverage. Backed by anonymous donors who came forward during the race weekend, drag racing’s latest power couple presented Serving Orphans Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Richard Baker with the donation in the Stevens-Enders Motorsports pit.

“That’s just amazing,” Baker said. “I’m trying to fight the tears back. That’s enough money to fund an orphanage for an entire year.”

Serving Orphans Worldwide was founded in 2010 to help “rescue” orphanages that need help and funding to continue to operate.

“Richie and I are proud to be associated with such an incredible organization that helps so many children around the world,” Enders-Stevens said. “The fact we were able to raise $40,000 to help some children warms our hearts and shows how caring people are out here in the NHRA community.”

As part of the donation, Stevens and Enders-Stevens plan to travel to Thailand after the NHRA season to select the first orphanage they will officially “adopt.”

“We only get involved with orphanages that are in rescue mode and we elevate them,” Baker said. “We’ve got three stages: Rescue, Train, Sustain. We understand that orphanages will probably never be 100 percent sustainable and that they are not the ideal solution to the orphan crisis, but we’re meeting kids where they are and helping them get the love and care they deserve.”

With the help of Serving Orphans Worldwide, several orphanages have already begun income-generating or farming projects to help sustain themselves. Serving Orphans Worldwide is involved with orphanages in 25 countries on five continents, most in third-world countries that lack the government and private sector safety nets that are present in the United States.

“There’s a great need out there,” Baker said. “We’re just scratching the surface, but we are making a difference.”

SOW became involved in NHRA through Stevens’ long relationship with businessman Tom Pierson, a supporter of Serving Orphans Worldwide and sponsor of Steven’s Camaro.

“We’re excited about the partnership with Richie and Erica,” Baker said, “and amazed and humbled by their willingness to give.”

Enders-Stevens is the No. 2 Seed for Countdown after U.S. Nationals

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INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1) — A Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory may have slipped through Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens’ fingers, but she still leaves Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on Monday very proud.

Enders-Stevens dropped a second-round match to Dave Connolly, but she will be the No. 2 seed when the Countdown to the Championship begins in two weeks at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, NC.

“Even though we didn’t win the U.S. Nationals, and that was our goal, we can leave here with our heads held high,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got a good car and the best team in the sport. It would’ve been nice to win here, but it starts to matter at the next event.”

Enders-Stevens has had a dream season, winning four national events and the K&N Horsepower Challenge. She led the points standings for 13 races before slipping to second in Brainerd, MN.

“I think we’re going to go in the No. 2 spot,” Enders-Stevens said. “Obviously our goal is to go in as the No. 1 seed, but it’s not detrimental to what the outcome’s going to be.”

Enders-Stevens started her 2014 U.S. Nationals with a race against her husband Richie Stevens, who joined Elite Motorsports for this race and beyond. She got the jump on Stevens with a .022-second reaction time and led the entire race, winning with a pass of 6.619 seconds at 208.52 mph. Stevens’ pass was 6.643 seconds at 208.52 mph.

“That’s my job,” Enders-Stevens said. “I have to put aside who’s in the other lane and just execute. That’s what we did first round and we did it second round, too, but it just didn’t end up being our day. We didn’t have lane choice and we struggled over there.

“I hate that Richie lost. I’m glad that we won but it’s bittersweet. I’m stoked that we picked up 20 points, but at the same time I hate that Richie’s debut wasn’t what any of us at Elite Motorsports had planned for it to be. But our job is to win rounds, despite who’s over there.”

In the second round, Enders-Stevens made a pass of 6.622 seconds at 208.88 mph but couldn’t get around Connolly, whose run was 6.613 seconds at 207.82 mph.

Enders-Stevens and her team made improvements throughout the weekend, giving her confidence for Charlotte and the Countdown.

“I’m really proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have so much heart. It would have been easy to get frustrated, get negative, and give up when things weren’t going as we had planned them to go when we got here.

“We spent a few days testing in St. Louis to get our cars — mine and Richie’s and Shane (Tucker’s) — sorted out. It didn’t go as planned when we stepped foot on the property here, but they dug deep and we ended up being second-quickest of the runs in eliminations. Even the round we lost, we were the quickest in that lane by a couple of hundredths, so that says a lot about my crew chiefs and my entire team.”

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