Archive for the Qualifying Category

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders faces another test in Seattle’s first round

Erica Enders | Pacific Raceways 2016 NHRA

SEATTLE, WA — Pro Stock champion Erica Enders faces a big test in the first round of the 29th annual Protect The Harvest.com NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Lucas Oil on Sunday at Pacific Raceways.

After qualifying No. 11, the Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge driver will race Alex Laughlin in the first round on Sunday. The battle could go a long way in deciding which driver reaches the Countdown to the Championship, as Laughlin is 10th and Enders 11th, just 11 points out of the top 10.

Should Enders win, she’ll move around Laughlin in the Pro Stock standings with two races left before the Countdown begins. That sounds like a lot of pressure, but Enders has been there before, performing well under pressure in winning the 2014 and 2015 championships.

“No, no pressure at all,” Enders said. “Tomorrow is just another race day and my guys will give the best car they know how to. I’m gonna have to get up on that wheel, that’s for sure. We’ll get it all sorted out tonight before we go to the hotel and come back tomorrow fresh and ready to roll.”

Enders rallied from a difficult Friday to post two good runs on Saturday, the best being a run of 6.572 seconds at 209.75 mph. Laughlin’s best pass was 6.552 seconds at 211.53 mph to snare the No. 6 qualifying spot.

“Yesterday, aside from crashing and blowing things up, was probably the worst day in drag racing I’ve had,” Enders said. “Today was a new day and my guys really rallied and worked hard on these Dodge Darts to get them to run right. Not just my car but our Mopar/Magneti Marelli team (of Jeg Coughlin Jr.), too. That was just one of those days you like to chalk up to a total loss, but today did go better.

“I get to control my own destiny tomorrow. I’ve got Alex Laughlin first round, who is the one standing in front of us to get into the Countdown. He’s probably one of the nicest kids out here, but it’s go time tomorrow.”

Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying action from 5 to 6 p.m., Friday, and 11 to 12 p.m., Saturday. FOX will carry eliminations live from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in PT).

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders reaches new heights with No. 2 spot in Denver

Erica Enders NHRA Mile High Nationals 2016

DENVER, CO — Pro Stock champion Erica Enders would have loved to have held on to the No. 1 spot for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Bandimere Speedway, but though she fell .007-second short of that lofty perch, Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team can hold their heads up high after qualifying No. 2.

“It would have been cool to get a green hat,” Enders said, referring to the special hats given to No. 1 qualifiers. “And tomorrow would have been a little cooler than normal because we would have a bye in the first round (because there are only 15 cars in the field).

“But I was talking to my guys about it on the radio before we even made the run — the benefit of running last is that you get to see what everybody does — after we knew that a handful of people had run 6.93s. I told my guys, ‘Either way, stay on the pole or not, get it back or not, what an awesome turnaround we have had this weekend, and we will out-tune and outdrive them tomorrow.’ And we will.”

Enders held the No. 1 spot through three qualifying sessions, but after a rain delay helped cool conditions in the Denver altitude, five cars went quicker in Q4 before Enders and Alex Laughlin made their runs.

Enders made a terrific pass of 6.933 seconds at 198.03 mph, though Laughlin was a tick quicker. However, her run wasn’t the best by her Dodge.

“Considering what happened in that run, to be able to throw up an e.t. like that is pretty cool,” Enders said. “I mean, I was way over by the wall and it was loose, so there was definitely some e.t. there, but either way it’s such an awesome step in the right direction, and it goes to show that hard work really pays off.

“This is where we get to really, really dig deep and see if we can battle back into the Countdown.”

Enders sits 11th in the Pro Stock points standings, with only the top 10 advancing to the Countdown to the Championship. Five races remain before the Countdown starts, and Enders is only nine points out of 10th.

She’ll battle Alan Prusiensky in the first round Sunday after he qualified No. 15 with a pass of 7.477 seconds at 159.91 mph.

“I’m super proud of our showing thus far, and we’ve got our day cut out for us tomorrow, but I wouldn’t want to go to battle with anyone else,” Enders said. “I’m proud to have performed so well in our Mopar Dodge Dart at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals, and we will see if can bring home a Wally to Detroit.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday, and will be broadcast live on FOX from 1 to 4 p.m. (All times listed in MDT).

Erica Enders returns to the top, snaring provisional No. 1 in Denver

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Denver 2016

DENVER, CO — She’s back!

Two-time champion Erica Enders returned to the top of the Pro Stock charts, grabbing the provisional No. 1 spot for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on Friday at Bandimere Speedway.

Enders dominated the class the past two seasons, winning 15 races and the championship in 2014 and 2015, but a change in rules and a switch to Mopar precipitated a small step back this season as her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team worked to develop a new Dodge Dart and new fuel-injected engines.

“What better race to have a turnaround weekend than at our sponsor’s event, the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals,” Enders said. “It might come as a shock to a lot of people because we’ve been running toward the back of the pack all year, but it just goes to show that hard work and determination pay off.

“Week in and week, we’ve come out here and qualified in the bottom half of the field, but my guys never got discouraged. They went home and went to work. That’s what I attribute that to.”

Enders’ best qualifying spot this season has been fifth, in Las Vegas. After winning nine races and 58 rounds in 2015, she has only five round-wins this year and sits outside the top 10 in the Pro Stock points standings, but her Elite Performance team continues to work on its engines, making big gains recently.

“We came here knowing what we found on the dyno this week was pretty significant,” Enders said. “We wanted the scoreboards to dictate what we found.”

They did in the second qualifying session. After she was No. 10 in Q1, Enders saw Elite/Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. make a terrific pass in Q2. She then went to the top with a run of 6.963 seconds at 197.71 mph.

“First run, we had to do some fine-tuning with the fuel,” Enders said. “We were able to make a really great run in the second session, and there’s definitely room for improvement on the graphs. That’s also encouraging. I’m just so proud of the hard work they’ve put in.”

Should it hold up, Enders would have the 19th No. 1 qualifier of her career.

“I’m not one to really get excited until the fat lady sings,” Enders said. “It was really nice to hear us stay on top after the really quick guys finished running. Tomorrow, you never know. Tonight was a really late run, and if the weather looks good tomorrow, hopefully we run on schedule and won’t have such great conditions tomorrow evening and we’ll be able stay on top.

“But our goal tomorrow is to get our race-day setup ready to go, stay consistent, and keep repeating.”

Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying action from 9 to 10 p.m., Saturday. FOX will carry eliminations live from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in MDT).

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders: Progress ‘absolutely’ being made

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CHICAGO, IL — The smile is slowly creeping back onto the face of two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders.

Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Melling Performance Dodge team snared the No. 9 spot for the K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Route 66 Raceway, inching closer to the top cars in the Pro Stock class.

“I absolutely feel like we’ve made progress this weekend,” Enders said. “After Norwalk, the guys went back to the shop and made some pretty significant changes. The scoreboard has showed it a little bit this weekend, so that is something that has definitely been positive and has boosted morale.

“On top of that, we’ve also closed the gap on the faster guys. We’re within five (-hundredths) now instead of 10, so we absolutely have made strides in the right direction. Do we still have a lot of work to do? Absolutely. But at least now we’re within striking distance.”

Enders made a pass of 6.623 seconds at 208.46 mph, which was less than five-hundredths of a second off Shane Gray’s pole-winning lap.

“I’m very proud of my team for their hard work, their never-quit attitude,” Enders said. “It’s extremely frustrating, especially coming off the last couple of years. Friday, when we ran that .62, to hear my guys’ voices across the radio and for them to hear the excitement in my voice was great.

“We had a team dinner Friday night, and it was like the old days with the atmosphere here. It was very exciting.”

Enders had gotten used to winning the last two seasons when she went to the winner’s circle 15 times and won back-to-back championships. Her Elite team switched to Mopar fuel-injected engines for 2016, and development has taken longer than expected, but Chicago was a step up in performance.

Enders started the final qualifying session in the No. 7 spot, with a possible first-round match against Dodge teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. looming. She was bumped down to No. 9 and will instead race Elite Chevy teammate Vincent Nobile. His best pass was 6.621 seconds at 208.62 mph for the No. 8 qualifying spot.

“We dodged a bullet by not having to race my Mopar teammate tomorrow, but we ended up with my other teammate, Vincent,” Enders said. “At least we know one of our Elite Performance engines will be going to the second round.”

Enders did turn on three win lights in Super Gas this weekend, racing the ORTEQ Energy Technologies roadster for owners Cody Ortowski and Buddy Wood. She made it to the final nine cars in that cutthroat Sportsman class.

“It was really fun to go some rounds again,” Enders said. “I joked with the Sportsman team that when you’re in the fourth round in Pro Stock, you’re racing for the trophy, but you’re barely on the home stretch in Super Gas.

“I need more seat time in that car to be a better bracket racer. That’s something I’ll dedicate some time to, and I’ll get better with time. To go four rounds here in Chicago — a racetrack that holds a special place in my heart — was definitely fun.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action from 10 p.m. to midnight ET, Saturday, and eliminations live beginning at 2 p.m., Sunday.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders drives Menards, Dutch Boy Paints to No. 10 qualifying spot

Erica Enders | NHRA Norwalk 2016

NORWALK, OH — Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will carry two new marketing partners, Menards and Dutch Boy Paints, into final eliminations after qualifying No. 10 for the NHRA Drag Racing Series race in Norwalk.

Enders’ Menards/Dutch Boy Paints Dodge Dart posted a top qualifying pass of 6.656 seconds at 207.37 mph over four sessions this weekend.

“It’s definitely been a good time with Menards and Dutch Boy on our car this weekend,” Enders said. “We’ve had lots of guests out this weekend for their first drag race, so I’m excited to introduce a new audience to NHRA.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team announced the new partnership earlier this week. She also found out she was nominated in the Best Driver category for the 2016 ESPYs for her spectacular 2015 NHRA season.

This season has been a struggle as her Elite team continues to develop the new Dart with new fuel-injected engines. Teammate Vincent Nobile, who drives a Chevrolet, qualified No. 6 here with some terrific passes in qualifying.

“I’m hopeful that we can run better,” Enders said. “We were consistent today, but we’re not crushing it yet. Vincent is running better, so we’re pleased with that. He’s within one- or two-hundredths of Greg (Anderson) and Jason (Line), which is a huge accomplishment right now.”

Enders and Dodge teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. did miss on racing each other in the first round (as the Nos. 8 and 9 qualifiers do), as Coughlin qualified No. 9.

Enders will face No. 7 qualifier Chris McGaha in the first round after he made a top pass of 6.624 seconds at 209.04 mph.

“We’re proud that one of our team cars is doing well,” Enders said. “We’ve got to go to work on mine and Jeg’s Dodge Darts. We’ll see if we can keep chipping away at it. It’s definitely been frustrating and an agonizing process, but we’ll keep working on it until it gets better.”

The first two rounds of eliminations will air live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at noon, Sunday, with a three-hour recap later in the evening, starting at midnight.

Dad’s message continues to push Pro Stock champion Erica Enders

Erica Enders | NHRA Bristol 2016
BRISTOL, TN — On this Father’s Day weekend, the words of two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders’ dad have even more meaning to the defending Bristol Dragway winner.

Gregg Enders preached positivity to Erica as she moved up the ranks of NHRA drag racing, and she’ll remember those as she races her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge in the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Sunday at Bristol Dragway.

“His message is always the same,” Enders said. “He’s where I get the quote that I use all the time: ‘Do your best and let God do the rest.’ You can only control so much. I’m a firm believer in, ‘I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.’ It’s on the back glass of my race car and is a big part of my motivation.

“But when you go up there, it doesn’t matter how far behind you are or what you have or haven’t accomplished in the past. It’s all about that moment with my car, my lane, and my guys. It’s up to us, and right now we’re at a disadvantage, but that doesn’t stop me from having a positive mental attitude and believing with all my heart that we’re going to be successful.”

Enders has struggled to repeat her success of 2014-15, when she won 15 races and the Pro Stock championship each year. Her best pass of 6.746 seconds at 205.10 mph puts her in the No. 10 spot, and she’ll race Elite Motorsports teammate Vincent Nobile in the first round Sunday.

Nobile qualified No. 5 — the 14-car field makes for unusual first-round matchups — with a top lap of 6.700 seconds at 205.85 mph.

Enders is coming into Sunday on a two-race winning streak in Bristol. Plus, she went to the final round in 2013 and 2011.

“Bristol is my absolutely most favorite racetrack in the country,” Enders said. “Not because of our recent success here, but because of the part of the country that it’s in. When you’re all strapped in your Pro Stock car and you’re fixing to do your burnout, you look down the racetrack and it’s amazing. There’s not another race facility that we go to that’s like Bristol.

“I really enjoy coming here. We’ve had a lot of success here the last four years with two wins and two runner-up finishes. To do that for my dad on Father’s Day the last couple of years was certainly a lot of fun.”

Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air eliminations from 4 to 7 p.m.

Englishtown yields top-half qualifying result for reigning champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | Englishtown, NJ 2016

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — Reigning two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders successfully qualified her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart in the top half of the eliminations field for the third time this year with a pass of 6.617 seconds at 209.20 mph down Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is she now faces teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations, a task she’d rather have saved for later in the day.

“We picked up our qualifying a little bit but we have to race Jeg, so that’s not how we would have drawn it up if we had the chance,” Enders said. “I guess the good news is, like Jeg told me, at least one of us is sure to move on to the quarterfinals.

“It’s no secret we both want more out of our Dodges. Our teammate, Vincent Nobile, is running really good now, and we just need to get my and Jeg’s cars on par with his. He qualified third last weekend and is fourth here. More importantly, he’s right on the heels of the three KB Racing cars, so we can see we’re gaining ground.”

Enders’ second title defense has been somewhat of a struggle with only a semifinal and two quarterfinal results to show for the team’s efforts to date, but the native Texan says no one is down; in fact, quite the opposite.

“It’s become sort of a running game to see what we can do each week to make gains in our performance,” Enders said. “You can’t beat yourself up about it because it doesn’t do any good. You’re still in the same place you were when you started.

“The guys that built my motors the last two years when we won two championships and a boatload of individual races are still the same guys that build my motors now. The crew guys that prepped my race cars the last two years haven’t changed. My crew chiefs didn’t forget how to tune race cars. You just have to remember we switched manufacturers on a year when the NHRA made some of the biggest changes in class history. You can’t just flip a switch and everything works perfectly.”

Last off-season, NHRA mandated a change from carburetors to electronic full injection. They also shortened the wheelie bars and limited rpms.

“We’ll get where we need to be,” Enders said. “I wouldn’t change a thing about where we are and the guys I have around me.”

FOX Sports 1 will carry Friday and Saturday’s qualifying action from 9 to 11 a.m., Sunday. Eliminations will air from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sunday.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders knows success is close at hand

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EPPING, NH — While strapped in her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge for the second qualifying session, two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders let out a loud cheer that was audible to those near her race car.

Enders was cheering on teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s solid run, knowing her Elite Motorsports team may have turned a corner at this weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.

“Jeg and Vincent (Nobile) both made strides in the right direction this weekend,” Enders said. “We’re not going to be far behind them.”

Nobile, driving an Elite Chevrolet, qualified No. 3, and Coughlin, in an identical Dodge to Enders’, qualified No. 7. Enders’ best pass was 6.631 seconds at 209.56 mph, and while the elapsed time is a tick off the best cars, the speed was an improvement.

The 2016 season hasn’t started as Enders and her team had hoped because development of the new Dodge Dart with fuel-injected engines has been tedious, but with improvement from Coughlin and Nobile, Enders knows better days are ahead.

“We hope for some better results Sunday, but either way, this weekend has definitely given our entire Elite Motorsports team a breath of fresh air and has shown that their hard work is starting to pay off,” Enders said. “We’ll keep working hard at it and continue to move in the right direction. We’ll catch up.”

Enders and her Elite team were unable to take advantage of cooler weather Friday, when Coughlin and Nobile made their better passes.

“Not making a great run Friday in better conditions got us a little behind the eight ball, but that’s part of the program,” Enders said. “This last run (in Q4), we hurt a motor, so we’ll be putting a new bullet in for race day.”

Whether that race day is Sunday or another day depends on the weather. The local forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of rain on Sunday, but Enders is hopeful of getting the race in.

“It looks like it’s lighter rain in the morning, and it’s not supposed to get bad until the afternoon, so hopefully it’ll miss us a little bit and we can get the race in tomorrow,” Enders said. “Either way, it’s great to be up here in Epping. I really enjoy racing here. The fans are awesome, and they really love Pro Stock. That’s refreshing.”

Eliminations are scheduled to start at noon, Sunday, and will air on FOX Sports 1 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

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