Archive for the Qualifying Category

Reading victory would be icing on Enders-Stevens’ birthday cake

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 5) – Husky Liners Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens celebrates her 30th birthday on Tuesday, and she’d love to have a Wally trophy from the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway next to her birthday cake.

Enders-Stevens won last weekend’s race at Gateway Motorsports Park, helping celebrate the birthdays of husband Richie Stevens and father Gregg Enders. She’d like a Maple Grove trophy for herself and her Cagnazzi Racing team.

“I got Richie and my dad a Wally for their birthdays,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’d like to get one for myself.”

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 7 with a best pass of 6.587 seconds at 209.98 mph, and her Husky Liners Camaro has been consistent.

Her runs were all within .034-second of each other, and she was in the top five in three of the four qualifying sessions.

Enders-Stevens could use a deep run at Maple Grove to continue her march up the Pro Stock points standings. She started the Countdown to the Championship in ninth place but her victory last weekend vaulted her to ninth.

Maple Grove marks the fourth event of the six-race Countdown, and she entered race weekend 60 points out of the lead.

“Tomorrow’s really important,” Enders-Stevens said. “There was some shuffling going on in that (final) round (of qualifying), and it changed the ladder a bit. We’ve definitely got our work cut out for us, but we’ve got a consistent race car and I’m driving well. I’ll put my faith on the big man upstairs and see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens faces No. 10 qualifier Buddy Perkinson in round one Sunday. Perkinson garnered that spot with a pass of 6.591 seconds at 210.21 mph.

A fun twist to Enders-Stevens’ weekend was lining up against her husband Richie Stevens in Q3. Husband and wife had never faced each other in Pro Stock, and Enders-Stevens got the better of her husband on the Christmas Tree.

Enders-Stevens left with a .005-second reaction time to his .074 light, and they ran identical elapsed times, 6.587. Stevens’ speed was better, giving him the higher qualifying spot, but Enders-Stevens was bragging about the win light.

“That was pretty cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “Apparently no husband and wife had ever run each other in Pro Stock, so that was a lot of fun. Our crews both had some side bets going. He outran us because of mile an hour, so he got ahead of us on the qualifying sheet, but I cracked him on the starting line and we got the win light. I guess that’s all that matters, but it was fun and I’m glad he’s out here running.”

Eliminations at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals get under way at 11 a.m. EDT on Sunday from Maple Grove Raceway. ESPN2 will broadcast the racing on Sunday night starting at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

Enders-Stevens focused on a repeat victory in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 28) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens hopes history repeats itself at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Last year Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team left with the Wally after winning here for what was their fourth victory of the season. She qualified No. 4 last year, and she’s in the same position in 2013.

“We’re right there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We got five baby points in qualifying, we’re certainly consistent, and my guys are doing a great job. I’m excited about what tomorrow holds.

“We’ve got a title to defend and a great car to do it with. We’ll see how eliminations go.”

Enders-Stevens earned the No. 4 spot with a pass of 6.528 seconds at 211.26 mph, run in Friday’s second qualifying session, when weather and track conditions were at their best. But she also made three other passes within .048-second of her best run, indicating she has a consistent Husky Liners Camaro. That bodes well for Sunday, when consistency is key.

“Consistency is always crucial on race day,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m very pleased with our performance, and I’m confident about tomorrow. I’ve been driving well this weekend, and I’m really hopefully of bringing home another Wally from St. Louis.”

Enders-Stevens lines up against Deric Kramer in the first round Sunday. Kramer qualified No. 13 with a lap of 6.603 seconds at 209.30 mph, but Enders-Stevens and her team won’t take him lightly.

“He’s got good power,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are never any easy ones in Pro Stock. We’ve got to make another good, consistent run, and one good enough to get lane choice for the next round, providing we win first round.”

Enders-Stevens earned enough bonus points in qualifying to break out of a tie for sixth place in the standings. Gateway marks the third event of the six-race Countdown to the Championship, and Enders-Stevens finds herself 110 points out of the lead.

In addition to the points battle, she’s thinking about her husband Richie Stevens and her dad Gregg Enders, both of whom celebrated birthdays on Friday.

“It would be an added bonus to bring a Wally home for my dad and Richie’s birthday weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “There’s no better birthday present for them than a Wally.”

Eliminations at Gateway Motorsports Park get under way at 11 a.m. CDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Video: Erica’s #1 Qualifier Press Conference from Dallas

Enders-Stevens grabs No. 1 qualifier in her home state

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DALLAS (Sept. 21) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens cemented her reputation as one of the best in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class over the last two seasons, and she has enhanced that status in her return to the Countdown to the Championship.

Enders-Stevens won the No. 1 qualifier at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Saturday at Texas Motorplex with a lap of 6.557 seconds at 210.93 mph in her Cagnazzi Racing Chevrolet Camaro.

“It’s certainly a great feeling, that’s for sure, especially to be home here in Texas,” said Enders-Stevens, a native of Houston. “It’s really important for our morale and team confidence. I’m really proud of the entire team and send a special thanks to Stevie Johns and Kevin Wideman back at the Cagnazzi Racing engine shop in Mooresville (N.C.). There will be a little bit more peace of mind going into Sunday, but we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us tomorrow.”

Enders-Stevens missed five of six races before the six-race playoffs, but Bob Tyler and Husky Liners joined the team as marketing partner, and Enders-Stevens and Cagnazzi have picked up where they left off.

Enders-Stevens reached the semifinals of the first race of the Countdown last week in Charlotte, and she followed that up with her first No.1 qualifier of the season and sixth of her career.

She’s eighth in the Pro Stock points standings but didn’t hesitate when asked if her team is a championship contender.

“We are, for sure,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got the best guys in the business, and they’ve stood behind me from Day 1, as I have for them. We’re a great team and we work really well together. Chemistry is important in this sport, and we’re lucky to have a great group of guys who work well together. That’s a little bit of our edge, honestly. The team part is a very important aspect.”

Enders-Stevens squares off against Chris McGaha in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. McGaha qualified No. 16 with a pass of 6.654 seconds at 208.68 mph.

Missing time out of the Pro Stock car was not an “ideal situation, obviously,” Enders-Stevens said, but it has made her appreciate the chance Husky Liners has given her and her team.

“It was really tough to sit at home and watch,” Enders-Stevens said. “We missed out on testing and seat time for me as a driver, but to be back out here for Husky Liners is great.

“Honestly I just feel really blessed to have the opportunity be out here. It really gives you time to think when you’re at home watching instead of being out here competing, knowing you have a great team standing behind you. We’ve got great horsepower. We just needed the money, and Bob Tyler from Husky stepped up.”

Eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. CDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Enders-Stevens bursts back on Pro Stock scene with No. 4 qualifying effort

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CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 14) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens hasn’t shown any rust in her return to Pro Stock racing, grabbing the No. 4 qualifying spot for the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens missed six of the last eight races because her Cagnazzi Racing team was sidelined, but Husky Liners joined the team as a marketing partner for the Countdown to the Championship. Charlotte is the opening race to NHRA’s playoffs, and Enders-Stevens is right in the middle of the title hunt.

“The car’s running really well,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had a great run this morning and we were on a really good run this afternoon. That’s promising for tomorrow, especially since we’re getting off the starting line.”

Enders-Stevens, ninth in the points standings, had a top pass of 6.546 seconds at 211.83 mph in the third qualifying session. She was solid in her other runs, but the Q4 pass was aborted when her Camaro darted out of the groove.

“I’m pleased with how the car’s running,” Enders-Stevens said. “That gives me confidence going into tomorrow. The conditions will be similar to what they were today, and I think tomorrow is going to be a driver’s race. It’s a really tight field, and everybody seems to be running well. We’ll see how it goes and keep a positive attitude.

“We want to do well, not only because it’s the first race of the Countdown but for Husky Liners, too. We’re so blessed they stepped up, and we want to make them proud.”

Fans at zMax have been good to the popular driver, as crowds have gathered around her pit area all weekend to see her again.

“The fans have welcomed me back with open arms,” Enders-Stevens said. “A lot of them have said, ‘Welcome back. We’re glad you’re back.’ I haven’t stopped smiling all weekend. It’s been great.”

She wants it to continue into Sunday, when she’ll kick off eliminations against Rodger Brogdon, who qualified No. 13 with a lap of 6.594 seconds at 210.64 mph.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a tough day,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll all have to be on our game, and I’m excited about our chances.”

Eliminations begin at noon EDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 3:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday and the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. later that night.

Enders Charges to another Top-3 Qualifying Finish at Englishtown

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ (June 1) — If you asked anyone at Old Bridge Township Raceway how they are feeling at this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Summernationals, the answer would more often than not be “HOT”.

With searing temperatures in the mid 90’s, crews and racers have had to contend with 130+ degree track temps and all of the slick and slimy traction challenges that come with it.

But if you asked Erica Enders-Stevens how she’s feeling, the answer is “Ready”.

“It’s been brutal out there, and a 15-layer fire suit doesn’t make it any easier,” Enders joked. “But I’m ready. The car is running well, we’re in a groove, and I want to put this Black Iguana car in the winner’s circle tomorrow.”

Erica’s first pass of 6.569 @ 210.50 mph on Friday started her off in the #2 spot before Shane Gray clicked off a pass just .004 thousandths quicker in Q2, sending Enders to the #3 spot that she would hold on to through Saturday’s sessions.

This weekend’s qualifying follows a number two qualifying effort in Topeka for her Cagnazzi Racing team. However, Kansas dealt an early exit for the Black Iguana Chevy when transmission problems caused it to fall in the first round to Rodger Brogdon.

“Topeka was a gut check. We had an awesome car going in to Sunday. But in the first round, on the first shift, we broke. It was a huge disappointment, but you have to shake it off, fix the problem, and keep the momentum up for the next race,” said Enders.

“We’ve been a top three qualifier for two races in a row, proving we’ve got a hot rod that’s capable of going rounds and has the potential to get us into the winner’s circle. Now it’s just up to us to get it there.”

No doubt the hot temps will continue to be a factor with Sunday’s high remaining in the 90’s.

“We won in Seattle last year when it was unseasonably hot, and we can do it again here,” recalls Enders. “Tommy Utt and Dave Connolly have a knack for the hot track setup.”

Final eliminations for the NHRA Toyota Summernationals begins at 11:00 AM Eastern time. ESPN2’s elimination broadcast begins at 4:30 PM Eastern.

Enders Unleashes Her BLACK iGUANA Camaro to the Number 2 Qualifying Spot in Topeka

Erica Enders-Stevens Black Iguana in Topeka

Erica Enders-Stevens Black Iguana in Topeka

TOPEKA, KS (May 18) – Coming off a disappointing weekend in Atlanta, Erica Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team have regrouped and charged their way to the number two qualifying spot in their newly-sponsored BLACK iGUANA Frozen Rita Camaro at the 25th Annual NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.

“We’re really excited to be racing this weekend in Topeka. It was uncertain if we’d even be here,” said Enders. “But in the 11th hour the deal came together with BLACK iGUANA and we’re super happy to be able to debut our new sponsor on a weekend when our car is running near the top of the pack.”

With a flat black paint scheme that has become an instant crowd favorite, the BLACK iGUANA Pro Stock Chevy proved it had the performance to back up its looks during all four rounds of qualifying.

Friday’s first session sent Enders to the number four spot with a 6.656 at 207.62 mph pass. But it was the second session, taking place in the cool evening air, that would lock Enders in as the number two qualifier for the weekend.

Nipping at the heels of class-leading Mike Edwards, Erica posted a 6.625 @ 208.30 mph pass, just .007 seconds behind Edwards and .008 seconds ahead of both Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin.

Enders continued to stay up front Saturday as she nabbed the fastest pass of the third session with a 6.655 @ 207.15 mph, besting Edwards’ 6.659 @ 207.30 mph. She would follow up with the 2nd fastest pass of 6.676 @ 206.86 mph in the final session, behind Allen Johnson’s run of 6.674 @ 207.08 mph.

“I’m so proud of my guys,” said Enders. “After coming off a couple of rough weekends, we knew we needed to reassess our approach. They’ve been working really hard to sort this car out, and our performance so far shows we are going in the right direction. These cars are a challenge to tune as well as drive, so putting together a string of four consistent runs has us optimistic about Sunday.”

Erica will face Rodger Brogdon in round one of eliminations at the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Sunday.

Eliminations are set to begin with Top Fuel at 11 a.m. Central Time. ESPN2’s eliminations broadcast begins at 7 p.m. CDT.

Enders Kicks off NHRA Winternationals as Top Three Qualifier, Eyes First Pro Stock Win of 2013 Mello Yello Series

Erica Enders Cobalt at 2013 Winternationals

Erica Enders Cobalt at 2013 WinternationalsPomona, CA — Driving the stealth-black GK Motorsports Cobalt that took her to four 2012 event wins, Erica Ender’s Cagnazzi Racing-powered Chevy arrived in California after a brief test session in Las Vegas… and went on to secure the 3rd qualifying spot in a cutthroat field at the 53rd Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals.

“Victor [Cagnazzi] and my guys worked hard on some new stuff this winter and it’s bearing fruit,” Enders stated. “We know we have a winner in the Cobalt, so we have a solid platform to work from while we finish preparing our new Camaro.”

Mike Edwards and V. Gaines secured the 1st and 2nd spots with a 6.528 and 6.538, respectively. Ender’s 6.539 @ 212.23 mph put her ahead of Jason Line’s 6.541. Vincent Nobile rounded out the top five with a 6.551. Defending champ Allen Johnson had trouble making a full pass during the first two sessions, qualifying 10th overall with a 6.594.

While Saturday’s warmer conditions resulted in overall slower ETs, protecting the top four spots, Enders went on to be the 2nd fastest car during the final two sessions, backing up her Friday performance and accumulating a total of six bonus points.

“We had a few things go our way early that helped us hold onto the 3rd spot, and we were able to stay one of the fastest through Saturday,” said Enders. “We’re excited to see what Sunday could mean for us.”

With the start of the season comes the start of a new series. The winner of Sunday’s race will also be the first to win a Wally in the newly-named Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

“There are some fast cars out there, and we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said crew cheif Dave Connolly. “But to get the first Pro Stock win in the new series would be a huge way to start the season.”

Erica faces Kurt Johnson in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations from Pomona’s Auto Club Raceway. Catch the action on ESPN2 starting at 8:00 pm Eastern / 5:00 pm Pacific time.

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