Archive for the Qualifying Category

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.”

Pro Stock’s Enders-Stevens Earns Provisional No. 1 Spot after Friday Qualifying in Charlotte

Erica Enders-Stevens is provisionally qualified number 1 after Friday's rounds at zMAX Dragway

CHARLOTTE, NC (Sept. 12) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens doesn’t believe in any No. 1 qualifying jinx.

The provisional No. 1 for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, Enders-Stevens is the only driver in 2014 to win from the No. 1 qualifying spot, so she relishes the chance to get her first pole position in Charlotte.

“It’s only Friday, but it’s really cool to be on top,” Enders-Stevens said. “Those baby points these last six races are going to matter now more than ever. As many as we can rack up will be great. It’s a good start to what’s hopefully a wonderful weekend.”

Enders-Stevens, who won from the No. 1 spot in Norwalk, Ohio, in July, was quickest in both qualifying sessions, earning three bonus points for each. Points leader Jason Line garnered one bonus point Friday, so Enders-Stevens sliced his unofficial lead to 25 points in the battle for the championship.

The Countdown to the Championship begins this weekend, and Enders-Stevens sits second in the Pro Stock standings.

“Baby points, the points you’re awarded for being low for each qualifying session, are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were able to acquire six of those today, so we gained five on Jason.

“It’s a really good start. I’m proud of my team. We struggled the last couple races, in Brainerd (Minn.) and Indianapolis, and at our test session in St. Louis. It’s very refreshing to see Old Red is back to herself.”

Her Chevrolet Camaro made a top pass of 6.591 seconds at 210.11 mph that puts her atop the Pro Stock field.

“We’ve tried hard not to change our mindset at all,” Enders-Stevens said. “We just need to focus on the task at hand — and that’s one round at a time, day by day — and not get too focused on the big picture at the end of the season. We’ve just got to do our job, day in and day out, and make every little point count.

“We had a team meeting this morning where we discussed our goals for the Countdown. It’s the small steps on the way to the big goal.”

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 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.

Can Enders-Stevens go 3-for-3 from the No 3 spot?

Erica Enders-Stevens Mile High Nationals

DENVER, CO — Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens hopes to go 3-for-3 from the No. 3 qualifying spot when final eliminations for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals begin on Sunday at Bandimere Speedway.

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 3 in Las Vegas … and won the race. She qualified No. 3 in Bristol … and won the race. Both times she started off eliminations by beating Larry Morgan in the first round.

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 3 here on Thunder Mountain and will race Morgan in the first round.

“I sure hope history repeats itself,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens has more than history on her side. She is the runaway points leader in the ultra-competitive class, with four victories this season, including at NHRA’s most recent race in Norwalk, Ohio.

“It would be cool to get another win here,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens made four good passes in qualifying, with her top lap of 6.934 seconds at 198.29 mph putting her in the No. 3 spot. But she was also in the top three in the three other qualifying sessions.

“We haven’t killed it here yet though,” Enders-Stevens said. “My crew chiefs are perfectionists and they haven’t been extremely pleased, but you have to be pleased with what’s going on this weekend. I just try to remind them what a good job they are doing and that we will be just fine.

“We have a consistent race car. We didn’t come up here to test and I haven’t raced here in a couple years, so it’s just different racing at altitude. All things considered it’s been a really great weekend so far.”

Morgan’s best pass was 7.019 seconds at 196.16 mph.

“The consistency will pay off tomorrow, going A to B on a hot track and crazy air conditions,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m optimistic. We need to have a good race day tomorrow.”

Final eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

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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