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Two-Time Pro Stock World Champ Erica Enders Eyeing Epping for First Win of 2017

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Topeka 2017

EPPING, NH — Two-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders doesn’t put much faith into racing luck. Her years at Texas A&M’s Mays School of Business taught her to be much more analytical in her thoughts, something she will continue to apply this weekend at the fifth annual NHRA New England Nationals in New Hampshire.

“The Pro Stock class goes in cycles,” Enders said. “Since the beginning of the class 30-something years ago, it’s been very cyclical. Certain drivers get on top, stay there for a period of time, and then someone else comes along and has their time. There may have been less races in the past so the cycles seem longer in the history books, but when you count the events, it balances out pretty evenly.

“We had an incredible run, especially in 2014 and 2015 when we won our two championships and 15 races, but then last year another group came along and had their time. The only changes to the cycles come from the fact there are so many multi-car teams nowadays. But if you replace teams with individual drivers from the past, the cycles are very similar.”

Racing out of the Elite Motorsports camp, Enders has three title-contending teammates in Jeg Coughlin Jr., Vincent Nobile, and Alex Laughlin. She firmly believes her group will resume control of the class very soon, and points to the overall success Elite drivers have had this year.

“Jeg was in the finals at the last race in Kansas and that was his second final of the year,” she said. “We’ve all qualified well and had our moments. The overall performance definitely is there. We just need to get all our ducks in a row at one race.

“I look at this team and I know we’ve got the horsepower, I know we’re driving great racecars, no doubt we have the best people in the business wrenching on these cars, and I usually drive pretty well. When the pendulum swings, we’ll be unstoppable again, and it could swing at any time. We’re right there.”

Enders says New England Dragway would be a perfect place to have the first all-Elite Motorsports final of the year, which would produce the first victory for the team since her win at the end of 2015 in Las Vegas.

“These races on the east coast are always fun because the fan base for our class is so substantial,” Enders said. “People in Epping and Englishtown love the factory hot rod class. They understand what it takes to make these cars go and they appreciate what we’re doing. Of everywhere we go, Epping and Englishtown are the two best stops for our class. They absolutely pack the stands every time we’re there and that makes us want to perform so much more.”

“I’m ready for our first win of the year and to do it in Epping would be awesome.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at 12 p.m., Sunday. First day qualifying action will be shown live at 7:30 p.m., Friday, on FOX Sports 1. Elimination action will be start at 4:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change).

Atlanta runner-up Erica Enders looking to go ‘One Step Beyond’ in Topeka

Erica Enders | 2017 NHRA Southern Nationals

TOPEKA, KS — Fresh off a season-best runner-up finish at the last NHRA tour stop in Atlanta, two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders is looking to go “One Step Beyond” at this weekend’s 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties at Heartland Park Topeka.

“We are going to do our best to carry the momentum we picked up in Atlanta and take it to Topeka,” Enders said. “We had a great day there in our Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. All we need to do is get one step beyond that in Topeka and we’ll be back in the winner’s circle. We’d love for that to happen at Heartland Park.”

One of Enders’ 21 national event victories came at Heartland Park in 2015, a recent enough memory to further boost the confidence of the popular driver, who had a Disney Channel movie — Right on Track — made about her and sister Courtney’s early days in drag racing.

“Since the beginning of my driving career, I’ve always taken pride in what I do behind the wheel,” Enders said. “Back in 2014 and 2015, when we won our two titles, we have tried to do everything we can to win every round we race. That includes what I do behind the wheel.

“In Houston and Charlotte, two weekends in a row, I gave away two races because of what I did, nothing else. It was very hard to go back to the pits and look at the guys who had worked so hard to give me a car that would have easily won those races. In reality, they were nothing but supportive. That’s one of the many reasons this team is so awesome.”

The strong showing in Atlanta lifted Enders to seventh in the Mello Yello points and also restored her confidence. Newly rejuvenated, she hopes to further close the gap on the top runners in Topeka, so she’s placing a premium on going rounds.

“Atlanta made me feel like I turned the page on what had happened the previous two races,” Enders said. “I felt like I put it behind me and taking two of those three round wins on holeshots gave me some measure of redemption.

“The next test comes this weekend. We are all excited to get there, and that includes my teammates Jeg Coughlin and Vincent Nobile. They’re running strong also and our goal of being 1-2-3 at every race is getting closer.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at 12 p.m., Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins at 10 p.m., Friday, followed by a live qualifying show at 2 p.m., Saturday. Elimination action also will be shown live starting at 1 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change).

Victory in Atlanta would be special for two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders

Erica Enders - NHRA Pro Stock 2017

COMMERCE, GA — Erica Enders has two NHRA titles, 21 individual race victories, 14 runner-ups and 18 top qualifying efforts to her credit. One of the big things missing is a win at Atlanta Dragway, the home track for longtime series sponsor Coca-Cola. It’s something Enders hopes to remedy at this weekend’s 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals.

“The Coca-Cola Company has been a huge part of drag racing for 16 years now,” Enders said. “They’ve been around as long as I’ve been racing as a professional. To me they are professional drag racing. I’ve been so lucky to have had the success I’ve had so far during the Coca-Cola era, but I still haven’t won Atlanta and I really want to get that done.

“Coca-Cola has a big party for past champions before the race, which is so cool. Then a lot of the top-level executives we meet that night come to the track over the weekend with their families. I really want to win one so they can all come down to the winner’s circle and celebrate with us.”

The “big party” Enders is referencing is the annual Night of Champions at Coca-Cola World Headquarters in Atlanta. Every champion from the four professional classes — Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle — that earned their world titles in the last 16 years are invited to the exclusive affair.

“This particular race weekend definitely starts out special,” Enders said. “That night is a really big treat for all of us and I’ll get to go with my team owner, Richard Freeman, and my teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. so I’ll be feeling special. It’s a night to celebrate with so many past champions. It’s a huge honor to be a part of that. There’s a lot of racers and teams that have done this for 30, 40, 50 years that don’t have this opportunity so I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Enders will have more than good vibes from a special night to rely on when racing starts Friday. She qualified No. 2 last weekend in Charlotte, just a fraction behind Coughlin. It’s the first time the two have qualified 1-2 since Coughlin joined Elite Motorsports a year and a half ago.

“I think there will be no lack of motivation for either of us, especially after the weekend we had in Charlotte,” Enders said. “We had the two best cars on the property but neither one of us put together a race day performance like we were expecting so we’re focused on looking onward and upward. We’ll get our act together a little better this weekend and try to win Atlanta.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:15 p.m. and 7:10 p.m., Friday, and 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at 12 p.m., Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with qualifying show at 8 p.m., Friday, followed by elimination action at 6 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in EDT).

Two-time champ Erica Enders says Four-Wide drag racing levels playing field

CONCORD, N.C. — Eight years into the return of Four-Wide competition at Bruton Smith’s “Bellagio of Drag Strips,” two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders says the unique format and the style of racing it requires makes for some of the best drag racing on the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello schedule.

“Going four-wide totally levels the playing field,” Enders said. “Even now after many of us have had multiple races here, there are still a lot of drivers that tend to struggle. Pro Stock already is a really tight and competitive class so it will definitely be interesting to get there and see what happens this time through.

“You drag race for years in the regular two-car format and then once a year you have to reprogram your brain and add in the fact there are two other cars running out there. On race day you have to make darn sure you’re one of the two quickest cars each round in order to advance. There are so many things going on you have to pay really close attention. It sounds easy, but it’s not.”

Enders arrives at zMax Dragway with a lot of excitement surrounding her Lupe Tortilla/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro race crew and her three teammates, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Vincent Nobile and Alex Laughlin.

“We are coming off of a really good performance weekend in Houston for our entire Elite Motorsports/Elite Performance group so heading into Charlotte we are going to hopefully carry all this momentum we’ve built,” Enders said. “Jeg was No. 1 qualifier and went to the final round in Houston and the rest of us all had strong cars capable of going rounds on Sunday. Things are really starting to click.

“We’ll probably get in some more testing this week. These Rick Jones-built Chevy Camaros are such great racecars and by sharing data between all the teams, we’re becoming a really strong unit. I’m excited to head to Charlotte and continue to do better there.”

A 21-time national event winner, good enough for second on NHRA’s all-time list of female racers, Enders will have two chances to score this weekend. Aside from Pro Stock, she’ll be racing Terry Peterson’s Omaha Track COPO Camaro in the Factory Stock Showdown.

“This will be the second Factory Stock Showdown out of the five they’re running so we really want to make our mark this time for the Patterson Elite gang,” Enders said. “I’m totally looking forward to driving Terry’s car again. It’s a great hot rod.

“I just want a big weekend for all of our teams. We’re ready to go.

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at 12:40 p.m., Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with a live qualifying show at 7 p.m., Friday, followed by elimination action at 5:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in EDT).

Erica Enders coming home to race Lupe Tortilla/Elite Motorsports Pro Stock racecar

HOUSTON, TX — Winning her hometown race always has been a great talisman for native Houstonian Erica Enders, a trend she’d love to continue at this year’s NHRA Spring Nationals, which take place Friday-Sunday at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown.

Enders, who was born and raised in Houston, won the Pro Stock title at her home track in 2014 and 2015, which propelled her to NHRA championships those same two years. Now, with sponsorship from Houston-based Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants, Enders is hoping another Lone Star victory will spur a successful journey to this year’s Mello Yello world championship.

“We’re looking for nothing less than another win,” Enders said. “I love this race above all the others. It’s home, not only for me but for my guys as well because we’re close enough to the shop (in Wynnewood, Okla.) that all of our family members and friends are able to come to the race.

“We are all thinking about eating at Lupe Tortilla every day. Stan and Sheila Holt (Lupe Tortilla owners) have been my best friends forever. I love them so much and to have their support again for this race is extra special. We’ve won with Lupe Tortilla on the doors before so we know they are good luck!”

This year’s visit to Royal Purple Raceway will feature Enders racing the same Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro she piloted to the 2014 Houston title and world championship, giving her a real level of comfort.

“We’re definitely getting better,” she said. “I know none of us have been home very much because we’ve been constantly testing since even before the season started. We’re used to winning races and winning championships so anything less than that is not up to the standards we set for ourselves.”

Currently seventh in the championship points after four national events, Enders has a semifinal and two quarterfinal finishes to her credit. She also raced to the final four in the elite K&N Horsepower Challenge at the tour’s last stop in Las Vegas.

“We’ve got big horsepower,” Enders said. “We keep working at matching that power to the car. All this time we’re investing will pay off very soon. I can feel it. We’re ready to light up the scoreboard in Houston.”

Aside from her duties in Pro Stock, Enders will be competing in Super Gas in Buddy Wood and Cody Ortowski’s ORTEQ Energy Technologies Chevrolet Camaro roadster. “Another chance to win,” said Enders, who won Super Comp at the Houston track in the past.

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with a live qualifying show at 7:30 p.m., Friday, followed by elimination action at 4:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in CDT).

Fan pick Erica Enders ready to strut her stuff at her favorite racetrack in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV — No one in drag racing has enjoyed a better run of luck at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway than two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders, who returns to her favorite drag strip this weekend with two chances at glory during the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs
NHRA Nationals.

Thanks to her legion of loyal fans, Enders will be taking part in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, a special race-within-a-race for the top eight Pro Stock drivers from the previous 12 months. Enders earned the final spot in the elite field by virtue of an online fan vote.

“Our fans have proved, once again, to be the best in all of motorsports,” Enders said. “I feel so blessed and I am so thankful for their incredible support. We will do everything we can to show our appreciation by running the wheels off this Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to try and win this year’s K&N Horsepower Challenge.”

From 2013 on, Enders has been a nearly unstoppable force in Las Vegas. After racing to a runner-up result at the ’13 K&N Horsepower Challenge, Enders reeled off an incredible streak of 23 elimination-round wins at The Strip. The run included victories at the spring and fall national events and the K&N Challenge in both 2014 and 2015. It finally ended in the semifinals of lastyear’s Challenge.

“We had a dream run, for sure,” Enders said. “It got to the point where it seemed like we just wouldn’t ever lose again. That’s pretty darn rare for drag racers because we all know that only one person wins on a given weekend.

“All the credit in the world goes to (team owner) Richard Freeman and this crew. We’ve been through the highs and lows as an unbreakable family and that streak was certainly one of the highlights. It may have looked easy but I assure you it wasn’t. That was some of the toughest racing ever but we came out on top every time.”

A native Texan with the fight to match her Lone Star pedigree, Enders cautions her rivals not to take her team lightly even though they needed the fan vote to make the field of this year’s K&N Horsepower Challenge.

“I feel a lot of confidence with our racecar right now,” she said. “We qualified No. 3 at the last race in Gainesville and had a really great car until we shook the tires in Round 2 of eliminations. We stayed after the event and tested until we got the car completely figured out so we have a good feeling coming to Vegas. My guys are the best and my wonderful fans are giving us this chance to show what we can do. I am one happy girl.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions for the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals are scheduled for 2 and 4:30 p.m., Friday, and 1:40 and 4:05 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at 1 p.m., Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with two qualifying shows, one at 3:30 p.m., Friday, and the other at 4 p.m., Saturday, followed by live elimination action beginning at 3 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in PDT).

Two-time drag racing champ Erica Enders looking to add ‘Gator’ skin to her wall

Erica Enders 2017 NHRA Pro Stock

GAINESVILLE, FL — One of only three women in history to capture a world championship in any of the top forms of motorsports, Erica Enders has amassed 21 national event victories in her illustrious career. However, that impressive number of wins doesn’t include one from the prestigious Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, a fact Enders would like to change at the 48th running of the event this weekend.

“I’ve always looked at the Gatornationals as one of the big-time, heritage races on the schedule so certainly we’d love to win it,” Enders said. “There’s a real party atmosphere with Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day going on, plus all the people escaping the snow up north come down for the weekend. It’s always a lot of fun.

“We’ve been super busy since Phoenix, testing the Pro Stock car, running our Omaha Track COPO Camaro in Stock at a divisional event, and even racing in an NMCA event. I’ve been driving some sort of racecar for 12 days straight. It’s been a blast.”

Enders certainly knows how to win as her Richard Freeman-led race team collected 15 Pro Stock victories in their two-year championship run, six in 2014 and nine more in 2015. She says the recipe and ingredients used to cook up those successes haven’t change a bit.

“Richard is really good at creating a family environment and keeping everyone happy and motivated at the same time,” Enders said. “We have three Pro Stock teams under the Elite umbrella this year and all of us have worked together for a long time now so we know how to get the best out of the entire group. There is no ego on this team. We’re all working together for the best of the team.

“All three cars have started well and we’re all in the top 10 in the Mello Yello points so we’re happy. Most of all, we’re still having the best time, hanging out and racing with each other. I wouldn’t trade this group for anything.”

Gainesville will offer Enders two chances to win as aside from her Pro Stock car, she’ll be racing Terry Peterson’s Omaha Track COPO Camaro in the first of five Factory Stock Showdown scheduled this season. The car features Patterson-Elite horsepower.

“It’s a great racecar, very fast and super smooth,” she said. “I do know we’ll be up against the best Stock racers in the country and everyone wants to win this deal so it’ll be cutthroat, but I pretty much have raced under that pressure my whole career. We’ll be ready.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions for the 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals are scheduled for 12:45 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 12 and 2:30 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with two qualifying shows, one at 12 a.m., Friday, and the other at 11 p.m., Saturday, followed by live elimination action beginning at 1 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in EDT).

Popular two-time champ Erica Enders has program right on track for Phoenix race

Erica Enders 2017 NHRA Pro Stock

CHANDLER, AZ — Before she even turned professional, let alone captured two world championships, drag racer Erica Enders had a Disney movie made about her and her sister Courtney’s lives in the NHRA Junior Dragster ranks. The film, the most watched movie in Disney Channel history, was entitled Right On Track.

Heading into this weekend’s 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Enders says the same title could easily be used to describe Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports race team, the group she’s been with for four seasons.

“Everything is right on track, for sure,” Enders said. “It’s no secret we had a down year in 2016, and it was a big deal because we’d just won back-to-back championships (in 2014-2015). We just struggled with the car we had and never got the engine right.

“Richard made a big decision, a very expensive decision in the off-season to switch back to GM horsepower and Chevrolet Camaros. That’s the brand we had when we did all our winning and it’s already made such a difference. We are back in competitive form and come into this race knowing we have a darn good chance to win. It’s been more than a year since we’ve been able to say that.”

Enders won the Phoenix race outright in 2013 and was runner-up at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in 2015. She also was top qualifier at the track in 2015.

“It’s a really unique setting and a place where I really like to visit because I have family here,” said Enders, a 21-time national event winner. “The track can be good, depending on the weather, and it can also be tricky if the dust gets stirred up. We already tested there a lot this year so we’re ready for anything.

“I really enjoy the fans also. They are friendly and into what we’re doing. It’s always fun when the people are behind you and cheering for you because we all try hard to put on a great race for them. This year I’m feeling we can really do something special so maybe we’ll be celebrating with them in the winner’s circle again.”

There are three cars racing out of the Elite Motorsports camp and Enders, following her semifinal finish at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif., is leading the way in fourth place. Teammates Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin Jr. follow in fifth and sixth, respectively. All three crew chiefs work together and share data.

“We’re a true team in every sense of the word and we have a lot of fun racing as a team,” Enders said. “That’s our secret weapon.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:30 and 4 p.m. MT, Friday and Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon MT, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with two qualifying shows from 10-11 p.m. MT, Friday, and 10-11 p.m. MT, Saturday, followed by three hours of elimination action from 4-7 p.m. MT, Sunday.

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