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Enders-Stevens hoping for another dream weekend in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — No Pro Stock driver accomplished more at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March than Elite Motorsports’ Erica Enders-Stevens, but she is far from satisfied with her 2014 success in Vegas as she and her team prepare for this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Nationals.

Enders-Stevens won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge race in Las Vegas in March and then doubled up when she went to the winner’s circle in the regular national event.

“I always enjoy racing in Vegas,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s one of my favorite tracks to run at. We had a lot of fun there in the spring and a lot of success, being able to win the K&N Challenge and then double up and win the race on Sunday. That was definitely an exciting showing at The Strip, so I can’t wait to go back.”

Another good showing in Vegas would help Enders-Stevens continue to move up the ladder in the Pro Stock standings. With two races left in the Countdown to the Championship, she sits second, 35 points out of the lead. She has gained two spots in each of the last two races, where she has qualified No. 1 both times and reached the semifinals in each.

Enders-Stevens has four national event victories, five No. 1 qualifiers, and five final-round appearances in 20 races this season, and she also set the national records for elapsed time and speed in 2014.

Winning her first Pro Stock championship is the ultimate goal, but Enders-Stevens and her team are focused on doing the best they can in each round of qualifying and racing.

“Of course, it’s crossed my mind, as far as being the champion is concerned,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s every driver’s goal and it’s our team’s goal as well. We’re going to do everything that we can to get it done.

“Having said that, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. God’s already got a plan, so we’ll do our best and see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens, who last raced at Maple Grove Raceway three weeks ago, is fired up to get back to racing.

“We’re not preparing any different than any other race,” Enders-Stevens said. “The guys have been working really hard in the shop, trying to find more horsepower. We’re excited to get these next two races underway.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1 and 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens Continues Championship Charge at Maple Grove

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 1) — The battle for the 2014 Pro Stock championship moves to Maple Grove Raceway for this weekend’s NHRA Nationals, and Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens is motivated to get to the top.

She has won four times this season and is third in the Pro Stock points standings at the halfway point of the Countdown to the Championship. She’s a little more than three rounds out of first place, though, with three races remaining this season.

“I’m really excited, really confident,” Enders-Stevens said. “Things are going to go down to the wire, and that’s what makes Pro Stock all the more exciting. It’s going to be a dogfight, and we’re right in the mix.”

Enders-Stevens is 67 points behind leader Jason Line and 41 behind second-place Dave Connolly after a semifinal finish at Gateway Motorsports Park last weekend.

She qualified No. 1 in St. Louis and had the quickest car in six of the seven runs over the weekend. She also drove well, leaving first on all three opponents at Gateway.

“I’m proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They give me a great, consistent race car. Everybody pulls their weight and digs deep when we’ve got quick turnaround times or it’s hot and you’re sweating and you’re hungry.

“They do a great job, and I’m driving up to that car. Together, we can accomplish anything. As long as I stay up on the wheel like I have been and they keep giving me a race car, we can accomplish a lot of great things together.”

One of those great things could be a national elapsed time record. Enders-Stevens holds the record of 6.464 seconds, set in Englishtown, N.J., earlier this year, but conditions at Maple Grove could bring another mark.

“The weather looks awesome,” she said. “It’s going to be chilly and hopefully conducive for a national record. We’ve certainly got the car and the team to do so, and we’ll be swinging for the fences there.

“It won’t change our game plan, but it is exciting looking ahead and knowing we’re capable of doing that.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 11:15 and 2:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

St. Louis Could be Enders-Stevens’ ‘Gateway’ to the Championship

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 23) — Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens has been perfect at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals since its addition to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule in 2012, and she hopes to keep her streak alive at Gateway Motorsports Park

Heading into St. Louis with the title of two-time defending champion, Enders-Stevens will be the odds-on favorite to complete the trifecta this weekend. Chasing the 2014 championship, Enders-Stevens’ Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet will prove hard to beat.

“I’m really looking forward to going back to St. Louis,” Enders-Stevens. “We’re the defending champions there the last two consecutive years. That racetrack is really good to me; it’s definitely a lucky track.

“We always perform pretty well there. We’ve done a lot of testing there, so a lot of laps up and down that racetrack have been made.”

Returning to a track where she has had so much success, Enders-Stevens has faith that the dream season is going to continue with help from her Elite Motorsports team. Currently fourth in the standings, just 59 points behind leader Jason Line, Enders-Stevens feels confident that St. Louis could be the turning point she needs in the Countdown to the Championship.

“With this team, I feel even more capable than I ever have before,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m excited to get back there; the fans are always great and the facility is nice.

“We’re going to kick the weekend off with a press conference Thursday, followed by the Fan Festival downtown. It should be a really good, fun weekend for us. I’m excited to hit the road with my team and get the Countdown rolling in our direction.”

Qualifying sessions will be held at 2:45 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

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.

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.

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.

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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