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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.”

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.”

Engines, Inc. Assumes Title Role on Enders-Stevens’ Elite Motorsports Camaro in Indy

Engines, Inc. to sponsor Enders-Stevens in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 22) — Engines, Inc., one of the foremost generator builders in the racing industry, will serve as primary sponsor on Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro driven by Erica Enders-Stevens at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals next week at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Engines Inc. is a family-owned company that has been in business for 79 years. The company is the leading source for diesel-powered products serving OEM, marine, agriculture and industrial customers.

“It’ll be neat to have Engines, Inc. on Erica’s car,” Engines, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Wofford said. “She’s doing so well this year and we’re all very proud of her. I think she has a great chance at winning the championship. They do it right at Elite Motorsports and we’re happy to be partners.”

Wofford and Engines Inc. have teamed with Elite Motorsports and owner Richard Freeman for several years.

“We’ve had a business relationship with Richard for a long time,” Wofford said. “We build all the generators for his trailers and motorhomes at Elite Motorsports. We’ve become great friends over the years.”

Wofford himself is a drag racer, and he’ll compete at Indy in the Mopar Hemi Challenge for Division 4, and like his new teammate Enders-Stevens, he’ll be bannering Engines Inc. on his hot rod. In all, Engines Inc. will have a team of four cars competing at Indianapolis.

As a testament to the family nature of the business, Wofford’s wife Linda serves as president and general manager of Engines Inc., and his son Cameron serves as vice president, while also representing the fourth generation of Woffords at the company.

“We like to think of ourselves as the generator builders of choice for the entire racing industry, and our track record bears that out,” Wofford said. “Certainly, everyone in the Sportsman ranks knows who we are and we’d like to have the same recognition amongst the pros. Having the Engines Inc. Pro Stock car at Indy will help a bunch.”

Enders-Stevens is a leading contender for the Pro Stock championship, as she has won four times in 2014 and sits second in the points standings heading into Indy.

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.

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