Archive for the Race Preview Category

Plan of Attack Stays the Same for Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports

Erica Enders-Stevens Norwalk burnout

DENVER, CO — Allen Johnson may be the king of the mountain, but the queen of Pro Stock is ready to knock him off his perch.

Johnson has been to the final round seven years in a row at Bandimere Speedway — winning five times — but Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team are looking to end his two-year winning streak at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals this weekend.

“I’m going to do everything I can to stop him,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens and her husband Richie are good friends with Johnson and his wife Pam, but friendships are put aside when helmet visors are closed.

“They’ve been the king of the mountain for a lot of years, and the Mopars always run really well at altitude, Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) and V. Gaines included,” Enders-Stevens said. “But our job is to do our best every weekend and make a run for the trophy. That plan won’t change for this weekend.”

Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock standings by 241 points over Johnson and is coming off her class-leading fourth victory of the season in Norwalk, Ohio, on July 6.

Bandimere Speedway is a different animal than every other track because its mile-high altitude affects horsepower and the tune-up, but Enders-Stevens and her team are ready for anything.

“It’s a challenge racing at altitude from a tuning standpoint and from a driving standpoint,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’ll be a very interesting weekend. We need to stay focused on the task at hand, and that’s to be consistent and go rounds. Going rounds gets more points, obviously, and that’s very important.”

Denver is one of Enders-Stevens’ favorite stops on the NHRA schedule, as she has raced there for years, dating back to her Sportsman days.

“We’ve been friends with the Bandimere family a long time,” Enders-Stevens said. “What they’ve done for our sport has been awesome, and the hospitality they offer is second to none.

“It’s going to be a hot weekend, but their cooling system in the track will help keep track temps at a manageable level. I’m appreciative to the Bandimere family for always providing us with a great facility, and we look forward to coming to Denver every year.”

Enders-Stevens will also participate in the Go Red For Women Track Walk at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday morning in support of the American Heart Association.

“It raises awareness for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women,” Enders-Stevens said. “Everybody is invited and be sure to wear red!”

Qualifying for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals is held at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m. MDT, Friday, and at 3:15 and 5:45 p.m., Saturday. Final eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all qualifying and elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

Independence Day an Important Holiday for Elite Motorsports Driver Enders-Stevens

Erica Enders-Stevens Route 66 Raceway

NORWALK, Ohio — For Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens, Independence Day is a reminder of all the people who helped make the United States the country it is.

The Pro Stock points leader has shown her patriotism in various forms over the years, including visiting military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Gulf War. She now serves as a spokesperson for Hot Rods for Heroes, an organization dedicated to honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifices for our freedoms.

“It’s an important day for our country, and we need to remember how blessed we are to have the troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to remain free and do what we love to do,” Enders-Stevens said as she prepares to race at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals this weekend at Summit Motorsports Park. “July 4 always helps me keep everything in perspective.”

July 4 is an important holiday for Summit Motorsports Park, as the Bader family traditionally holds a big fireworks show during the race weekend. This weekend, the show will be on July 4.

“They have the best fireworks show around,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got a little buddy named Robert who races Jr. Dragsters there, and every year he comes by my pit to get me and we go watch the fireworks together. I always look forward to that.”

Enders-Stevens also looks forward to the friendliness and professionalism of the entire Summit Motorsports Park staff, from track president Bill Bader Jr. on down. The track has long been known for its hospitality to racers and fans.

Enders-Stevens hasn’t exactly been hospitable to the Pro Stock class this year, as she leads the standings by 190 points at the halfway mark of the season. She has won three times in four final-round appearances — not including the special K&N Horsepower Challenge race in Las Vegas — and is yet to lose in the first round.

After qualifying No. 5 at the season-opener, Enders-Stevens has qualified first or second in 10 of the 11 races since.

But the Elite Motorsports team will not sit on its hands.

“There is absolutely no complacency,” Enders-Stevens said. “Things are just going to get more difficult as the year goes on. We really want to be on top at the end of the year, and we’ve got to remain hungry, consistent, and give it our all.”

Qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will be held at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens Hoping for Another Memorable Chicago Race

Erica Enders-Stevens in Bristol winner's circle

CHICAGO — The life of Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens changed forever on July 1, 2012, when she scored her first career Pro Stock victory at Route 66 Raceway — and became engaged to Richie Stevens.

Enders-Stevens is hoping to recreate the same kind of magic when NHRA returns for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals this weekend.

“Chicago 2012 is obviously one of the best events in my racing career and in my personal life,” Enders-Stevens said. “We worked seven years to try to get a win in Pro Stock, and for it to finally happen in Chicago — and then for me to get engaged after that — it made for a dream weekend.”

Enders-Stevens has since risen to the top of the Pro Stock ladder, winning eight more times. Three of those victories have come this season, and she leads the points standings in the ultra-competitive class by a whopping 183 points.

Her pairing with Richard Freeman’s Elite team has been a boon to her career, as crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones consistently have her near the top of the field.

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better in every race, including one No. 1 qualifier and seven No. 2s, and she has won at least one round in all 11 races to date, including six semifinal appearances and four finals.

And now she heads to Route 66 Raceway, one of her favorite tracks.

“I’m looking forward to Chicago because it’s always been close to my heart,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s sentimental because it’s where I went to my first final round when I became pro, when I first started, and of course that’s where we got our first win in 2012. I’m looking forward to going back and starting with a clean slate this weekend.”

Her love of the track goes even further back than her pro career, back when she raced the Sportsman classes.

“Even before Pro Stock, I raced Super Comp and Super Gas there,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got a lot of memories there and am looking to making some great new ones with my new team.”

Qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals will be held at 4:30 and 7:15 p.m., Friday, and 4:15 and 7:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports Team on a Roll Heading to Epping

Erica Enders-Stevens, Rick and Rickie Jones in Bristol

EPPING, NH — Fresh off a victory at Bristol Dragway, Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team will tackle New England Dragway for the first time during this weekend’s Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.

The inaugural race in Epping was held last year, but neither Enders-Stevens nor the Elite team raced that weekend.

“I’m looking forward to going to Epping,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been there before because that was one of the races last year we didn’t have any sponsorship. I’ve heard it was cool and the fans were great.

“We’ll try to carry the momentum from Bristol to there and see how it goes.”

The win in Bristol was her third of the season, and it increased her points lead in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class to 155. The team owned by Richard Freeman, with crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, has been fast at every track this season, so not racing last year in Epping is not a concern to Enders-Stevens.

“We don’t have any data there, but there’s not a racetrack anywhere that my crew chiefs can’t handle,” Enders-Stevens said. “They do a really good job with this race car, and I’m not worried about it at all. We’ll be fine. We’ll take it round by round and day by day.”

The Epping race is the second in a four-week stretch that can tax even the most well-prepared teams. Following Bristol and Epping, NHRA racers will compete in Chicago and Norwalk before getting a week off, then the three-race Western Swing begins.

“We’ve really prepared well for this stretch,” Enders-Stevens said. “The team has really worked hard and put in a lot of time at the shop. I like racing multiple races like this because you’re in the seat every weekend and you get more and more comfortable. I feel like I’m more on top of my job.

“Plus, we’ve got a fast hot rod right now, so my confidence as a driver is high and the morale of the team is terrific.”

Qualifying begins Friday with sessions at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. Eastern. The final two qualifying sessions will take place at 12:15 and 2:45 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN2 will have one hour of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m., Saturday, and a two-hour eliminations show at 2 p.m., Sunday.

Points leader Enders-Stevens Hopes to Keep ‘Dream Season’ Going in Bristol

Erica Enders-Stevens Englishtown Elite Motorsports

BRISTOL, TN — The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has been a “dream season” for Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens, and she intends to keep the dream going during this weekend’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Enders-Stevens leads the points standings by 123 points in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class with two national event victories and a win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge.

At the most recent race in Englishtown, N.J., Enders-Stevens set the national record in elapsed time (6.464 seconds) and speed (215.55 mph).

“Hopefully, we can hold it for a while,” Enders-Stevens said. “Now that it’s the summer months, I don’t think there will be mine-shaft conditions, at least not until Reading. That’s usually the next race where records are broken.

“It meant a lot to us. I know it meant a lot to my team because speed equals horsepower in Pro Stock, and it just goes to show how strong our engine program is. I know Richard Freeman, Nick Ferri, and Jake Hairston are all very proud of it, along with the rest of my team. It’s just another accomplishment in what has been a dream season so far.”

And now she heads to Bristol, one of her favorite NHRA venues.

“Bristol is probably one of my top-three favorite tracks on the tour,” Enders-Stevens said. “I really enjoy going there, and it’s an awesome facility. It’s the South, and the people are all so kind.”

Plus, Enders-Stevens has reached the final round in two of the last three Bristol races, including the 2011 event when she returned to Pro Stock full time after five years.

“That was our first final-round appearance together,” Enders-Stevens said. “Since then I’ve been to one more final there. I haven’t won Bristol, but we’ve been runner-up a couple times. I’m looking forward to going back and going one extra round.”

Enders-Stevens has been busy since Englishtown, traveling to the Chevrolet Performance shop in Detroit with team owner Freeman to take delivery of a COPO Camaro.

“We got to take a tour of the factory and see every step of the production of the COPO Camaro,” Enders-Stevens said. “They only produce 69 cars per year, so it’s very special and it’s an elite group of people who have a COPO car.

“When we got to the end of the line and pulled the car cover off our Camaro, it was an exciting moment for all of us. I had no idea until that day that I was going to be a part of that program with Richard, and he asked that my name be put on the certificate of authenticity alongside his. That was a surreal moment and really exciting for me. I don’t show excitement very much, but that was a pretty amazing moment.”

Freeman made sure Enders-Stevens got behind the wheel with a Chevrolet official, and she drove it around the block before doing some burnouts in the parking lot. The future plan is for her to drive the car at some NHRA races later this season.

After Detroit, Enders-Stevens went to the Elite shop in Oklahoma before heading home for some time before a four-week stretch of races begins with Bristol.

Four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying will feature sessions at 5 and 7:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are slated to start at 1 p.m., Sunday. Both qualifying and elimination action will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Enders-Stevens hopes to write some new history in Englishtown

Enders-Stevens heads to Englishtown

ENGLISHTOWN — Old Bridge Township Raceway Park hasn’t exactly been kind to Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens, but she hopes to make some new history during this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Summernationals.

The venerable racetrack has been one of the highlights of the NHRA schedule for many years, and Englishtown fans are known for their love of drag racing.

Enders-Stevens has yet to score a victory in Englishtown, but husband Richie Stevens Jr. has visited victory lane during his driving career, so she’d love to follow in his footsteps.

“Englishtown has a lot of history with our sport,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s always fun to go back there. It’s been a great track to my husband; he’s won a few times there.”

Enders-Stevens has won twice in 2014 — not including the special K&N Horsepower Challenge — and leads the Pro Stock points standings after eight races. She is off to the best start of her career, thanks to a potent Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better in all eight races, including third or better in the previous seven. Plus, she has been the points leader in the Pro Stock standings for five consecutive races.

Going fast is nothing new for Enders-Stevens, and she hopes for quick runs this weekend after qualifying No. 2 and posting a semifinal finish in Topeka, Kan., earlier this week.

“Englishtown is usually pretty quick, providing the weather cooperates,” Enders-Stevens said. “We get to go back down to sea level, which is nice compared to being in Topeka, so we look forward to that. We’ll run quicker there.”

Englishtown also closes a three-week stretch of consecutive races. After this event, NHRA teams get a week off before starting a four-race stretch. Preparation is crucial to making it through this time of the year, and Enders-Stevens is confident in her Elite team.

“It’s the last race of a three-race swing,” Enders-Stevens said. “We get one week off to catch up in our engine department, and then we get four events in a row. It’ll be pretty grueling, especially in the middle of the summer, but we can handle it.”

Four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying will feature sessions at 4 and 6:15 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are slated to start at 11 a.m., Sunday. Both qualifying and elimination action will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Confidence, momentum on Enders-Stevens’ side heading to Topeka

Erica Enders-Stevens Elite Motorsports Camaro NHRA Southern Nationals

TOPEKA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens carries more than the Pro Stock points lead into the NHRA Kansas Nationals this weekend at Heartland Park Topeka.

She’s bringing confidence and momentum, as Enders-Stevens’ Chevrolet Camaro was the quickest car in all six rounds she ran last weekend at Atlanta Dragway.

“I’ve got all kinds of confidence in my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They’re awesome, they’ve got my back, and they’re good people. Our group of guys is a true definition of what a team is. They pick me up when I’m down and vice versa. They work their tails off for me, and every time I get in that car I have 100 percent faith that we’re going to get down, it’s going to be safe, and we’re going to do well.

“To have a group like that is a true blessing. I love them. We’re going to continue to have a great year, and we’ve got to take these races one at a time and do our best. That’s what we’ve done all year.”

Enders-Stevens has two wins — not including her K&N Horsepower Challenge victory — and one No. 1 qualifier in seven races, and she has a 110-point lead on the Pro Stock field heading to Topeka.

Plus, she still has an opportunity to claim the 100th national event victory by a female this weekend. She scored wins No. 98 and No. 99, so getting No. 100 would be fitting.

“It would be awesome,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s a huge milestone for our sport and would certainly be an added bonus for us to get that done for all the women. It would mean a lot to us, but regardless, we’re going to do the best we can this weekend and at every race.”

Enders-Stevens has fond memories of Heartland Park, for it was there as a 22-year-old that she claimed her first No. 1 qualifier.

“That was pretty cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “I was a new driver back then, and I don’t really think I understood how awesome that was to be that new and to be on top of such a competitive class. That was a neat accomplishment.

“We’ve got the car and the team to beat right now, and we’re going to carry that into Topeka and see what happens.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 and 7 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens the odds-on favorite to capture 100th victory by a female pro

hou-wally

ATLANTA — Entering this weekend’s 34th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals riding a streak of four consecutive final-round appearances, top-ranked Pro Stock racer Erica Enders-Stevens is considered the odds-on favorite to capture the much-ballyhooed 100th victory by a female competitor.

Enders-Stevens and Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria have each carded two victories this year in their respective classes, but even if both manage to race through to the trophy round of the Atlanta race, Enders-Stevens would get the first shot at reaching the milestone because the Pro Stock final takes place just before the Funny Car title round. However, they could both be one-upped by a Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor as three female riders are on the entry list for the event.

“It’s a really exciting deal, and the media along with everyone at NHRA have been putting a lot of emphasis on the chase to see who will be the 100th winner,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’d love to be the one, more for my guys than anything else. They’re the ones that deserve all the recognition. I’m just the lucky person that gets to drive the car.

“Alexis and I are becoming good friends and I’d be super happy for her also. Then you have the girls in Pro Stock Motorcycle and Brittany (Force, Top Fuel) and Courtney (Force, Funny Car), and it’s easy to see that there are a lot of us reaching for the same brass ring.

“No matter who gets it, I think it’s an awesome deal for all of the women who compete and have competed in the past in our sport. Having so many successful female racers is a huge part of what makes NHRA drag racing so unique.”

A total of 14 women have won NHRA national events, with eight-time winner Enders-Stevens ranked a lofty third on the list behind legends Angelle Sampey (41) and Shirley Muldowney (18).

“We all kind of stick together and support one another,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m very close to Shirley and Angelle. They’ve been so great to me. And the girls that are out there racing now, we are all friends. I think more than anything, even though the 100th win by a woman is what everyone is talking about, we really just want to be considered racers. We want to let our accomplishments speak for themselves.”

Enders-Stevens and her privately funded Elite Motorsports Camaro have certainly quieted the critics this season. Aside from her two victories in four final-round showings, she has had the fastest car on the property at half of the first six races of the season. Her top speed of 214.69 mph, which she posted in Gainesville, Fla., set the national record. She has also topped the championship points for the last three races.

“It’s been an awesome start to the year,” said Enders-Stevens, who also won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas. “Our team owner, Richard Freeman, has given us everything we need to win and the guys have lived up to his expectations. Most of all, we’re having fun and enjoying the ride.

“Winning the 100th race, that would add a big bolt of energy to our team. We’re certainly going to do everything we can to make it happen.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:15 and 6:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:30 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry qualifying highlights from 6-8 p.m., Saturday, and elimination action from 9 p.m.-midnight, Sunday.

Page 11 of 14« First...910111213...Last »