Archive for the Race Recap Category

Perfect Light the Only Thing that Goes Right for Enders-Stevens in Brainerd

Erica Enders-Stevens transmission issues cut Brainerd eliminations short

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 17) — Elite Motorsports pro Erica Enders-Stevens was certainly ready for her first-round race against Dave River, recording a perfect reaction time of .000-second to jump off the starting line in what appeared to be another victorious quarter-mile run. But just a few hundred feet later Enders-Stevens’ Camaro fell silent, and for the first time all year she was handed a first-round loss.

“We changed everything there was to change on the race car because of this big swing in the weather, and this time something got us,” Enders-Stevens said, referring to an overnight 30-degree drop in ambient temperatures. “I mean we can go down the Ho Chi Minh trail with this car. We go A to B every time, so it’s a little mind-boggling when it doesn’t happen.

“We came back to the trailer, analyzed the data, and immediately found what went wrong. Suffice it to say all of those parts are going in the trash, and now we’ll just reload and put this day behind us. We’ll get to the shop for a few days and then head right back out to test. We want to make absolutely certain this never happens again.”

With the loss, Enders-Stevens is in jeopardy of losing the points lead she has held for the last 13 races, a span of five months. Close friend Allen Johnson entered this event 32 points behind Enders-Stevens and advanced to the second round before yet another rain delay halted the action.

“It won’t be a great feeling if we lose the points lead,” Enders-Stevens said. “It was a really cool moment personally to go up on stage at driver intros and put my name up there in the No. 1 spot on the Countdown leaderboard. No woman has ever done that in the playoff era of drag racing and we really want to be the first. I guess we’ll have to see what happens with Allen.”

The Elite Motorsports team next competes Aug. 29-Sept. 1 at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

“Hopefully, we get to Indy and get back to doing what we’ve done all year, which is consistently getting down the racetrack and turning on win lights,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got all the faith in the world in my guys and I know that we’re the best team out here. I’ve said that after every race this year, and it’s never more true than right now. I’m a lucky girl.

“We plan to test a bunch before Indy in St. Louis. We’ll run my car and (husband) Richie’s car until the guys are 100 percent ready for Indy. Having twice the data will only help our cause that much more.”

Points Leader Enders-Stevens Drops Second-Round Race by .0003-Second

Erica Enders-Stevens 2014 Mile High Nationals

DENVER, CO — Moments after announcing she would be skipping the next two NHRA national events, Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens fell in the quarterfinal round of eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals by the infinitesimally small margin of three-ten-thousandths of a second, or less than one inch.

Racing her former crew chief Dave Connolly, whom she beat two weeks ago in the final round of the Norwalk, Ohio, event, Enders-Stevens posted a quicker elapsed time of 6.962 seconds during a 198.06-mph pass against Connolly’s 6.992 at 196.70 mph. The difference came at the starting line when Connolly reacted with a cosmic .007-second to Enders-Stevens’ .037-second launch.

“I’m pretty sure that was the closest race of my professional career,” Enders-Stevens said. “A couple more coats of paint on my Elite Motorsports Camaro and we might have had that one. Holeshot losses hurt the most because it’s all on the driver. My guys worked hard in very challenging conditions and gave me a great car. I just needed to be a thousandth of a second better behind the wheel. That’s drag racing.”

Enders-Stevens can take solace in the fact she became the first driver in any pro category to lock up a spot in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs that determines the titlists in each class.

“We’ve had a dream season so far, no doubt,” said Enders-Stevens, a Houston native who now resides in New Orleans. “We’ve got four wins, we’ve been No. 1 qualifier a few times, we have the biggest points lead in any pro class … it’s just been awesome from the start.

“Our first goal was to earn a spot in the Countdown and give ourselves a chance to contend for the championship. Now we’ve done that and at the same time we’ve earned ourselves a reputation as one of the top cars in the sport. We are on such a high and all the credit goes to this group of guys. Everyone at the shop and everyone that comes on the road is so focused.”

By skipping races in Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle, Enders-Stevens said her team will be better prepared for the final two regular-season races before the Countdown and the six-race sprint to the finish.

“We’ve done the math and we’re actually pretty optimistic we’ll stay No. 1 in the points,” Enders-Stevens said. “Either that or we’ll be in position to get it back in Brainerd (Minn.) or Indy before the Countdown starts. We don’t have a title sponsor, so there are no firm commitments to run every race. The sponsors we do have are totally OK with us going home and getting all of our motors in perfect condition for the Countdown. It’s time to focus on the top goal: winning the Mello Yello championship.

“The only thing I’m bummed about is not visiting with all our friends and fans in California and Washington, but hopefully people understand our game plan and cheer us through the Countdown.”

Enders-Stevens Caps Dominant Weekend with Norwalk Victory

Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team in the winner's circle at Norwalk

NORWALK, OH — The impressive numbers keep piling up for Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens after winning the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park.

Enders-Stevens’ victory:

  • Was her fourth of the season, which leads the class
  • Was the 10th of her career, joining Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey as the lone women with double-digit pro national-event wins
  • Was the 199th for Chevrolet in Pro Stock
  • Capped off a perfect weekend for her and her team, as she was quickest in all eight rounds, covering qualifying and eliminations
  • Pushed her points lead to 241, the biggest in any of the four pro classes.

But perhaps her proudest number was .015, as in her reaction time in seconds in the final round against Dave Connolly. That allowed her to get a quick lead, and her pass of 6.632 seconds at 210.14 was more than enough to send her to victory lane.

“I’m proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They put a great race car under me. You have to leave the emotion out of it, regardless of how I feel, regardless of how he feels. When I go up there, it’s all about my team, my car, our lane, me, and that tree. I’ve got to get my job done and not think about any of the negative things. We were able to do that today, and a big reason is because we have a really fast, consistent race car.”

Enders-Stevens also exorcised some personal demons that have plagued her over the last few races. Every NHRA driver has lost on holeshots in their career, but Enders-Stevens was determined to not let that happen this weekend, especially after grabbing the No. 1 qualifier.

Erica Enders-Stevens wins in Norwalk

The pole winner hasn’t won in Pro Stock since the U.S. Nationals last year, but Enders-Stevens and her team wanted that streak to end in Norwalk.

“When we got it I was like, ‘All right, it’s our job to bust it.'” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m just glad we could get it done, and that’s a big part of this game: Having a positive mental attitude and focusing on the things you want and not dwelling on the negative things or the distractions on the outside.”

And she joined Sampey (41 victories) and Muldowney (18) as the only females with double-digit wins.

“It’s crazy to have my name on a list like that,” Enders-Stevens said. “Shirley’s a legend and has been a mentor to me. Angelle’s been great, too. She’s a friend of mine and lives 20 minutes from our house in New Orleans.

“They’re two extremely talented ladies who are passionate about our sport. They were able to break down the barriers so girls of this generation can do what we do. I’m appreciative of them for that. To have our name on a list with those two names is pretty significant and means a lot to me.”

Enders-Stevens missed on getting the 100th victory by a female in NHRA, but she’d love to give Chevrolet its 200th win in Pro Stock.

“That would be very cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “The 100th win for females is very significant and we were 99 and 101, so we missed it by a little, but 200 for Chevy would be very cool. We certainly have the hot rod to do it, and I’m driving better.

“We’re not focusing on the big picture. Let’s just focus on the task at hand, and that’s one day, one round at a time. We were able to execute that way.”

Enders-Stevens Remains in Full Control of Pro Stock Class

Erica Enders-Stevens Route 66 Raceway Chicago 2014

CHICAGO — Proving how tough the competition is this year in NHRA’s Pro Stock class, runaway points leader Erica Enders-Stevens left the door open for the chase pack to close the massive gap she has opened in the championship standings. But even after a rare quarterfinal loss, Enders-Stevens didn’t lose any ground with her closest rivals also bowing out earlier than expected.

“It just shows you how tough it is out here,” said Enders-Stevens, who enjoys a nine-round lead in the rankings. “Everyone is pushing you every single race. We’re all running on the ragged edge, and when you’re hanging it all out there sometimes it doesn’t go your way.

“It’s fortunate that we didn’t lose any ground in the points, but at the same time the racer inside of me is upset that we didn’t use this opportunity to pad our lead even more. That’s just how we’re all wired. We don’t want to show any mercy.”

After qualifying a lofty second with a 6.594 at 209.65 mph — one of only two runs in the 6.5-second range — Enders-Stevens was able to dispatch Dave River in Sunday’s opening round with a 6.658 at 209.36 mph to River’s aborted 14.169 at 49.29 mph.

“We definitely wanted more out of that run,” Enders-Stevens said. “The humidity really crept up on everyone today and we saw some odd things happening up there. Fortunately, Dave had some issues in his lane and we got the win. The problem was we lost lane choice for the second round and maybe that got in my head a little.”

Against part-time Aussie racer Shane Tucker, Enders-Stevens actually managed to squeeze a little more from her Elite Motorsports Camaro, posting a quicker 6.647 at 208.59 mph against Tucker’s slower but winning 6.658 at 208.71 mph. The difference was the duo’s reaction times, with Tucker leaving .014-second ahead of his good friend Enders-Stevens.

“Getting beat on a holeshot is the worst feeling for a driver because you know the guys gave you a car capable of winning and the driver just didn’t do her job properly,” said Enders-Stevens, a three-time winner this year who has now led the points for nine races. “Everyone told me they didn’t want to hear a word about it because we win as a team and we lose as a team but I feel bad.

“I love these guys and I love my team owner, Richard Freeman, for everything he’s done. All I want to do is make them proud of me, and the fact they were so supportive today shows you how awesome they are. We’ll be fine. The best thing to do when something like this happens is to get on to the next race as fast as possible and fortunately we race next weekend, so we’ll get ready for that and move on.”

Enders-Stevens will be back on track Friday for the first two rounds of qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports Persevere at New England Nationals

Erica Enders-Stevens at New England Dragway

EPPING, NH — Last week’s winner and current Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens came up just short of bringing home her fourth win of the season at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.

Enders-Stevens put the pedal of her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro down when she ran a 6.518 at 212.73 mph against Larry Morgan to move on to the second round of final eliminations.

But round two was a dead heat between Enders-Stevens and Greg Anderson that ended with both recording 6.551 passes. However, Anderson’s .034 reaction compared to Enders-Stevens’ .046 ended her day earlier than expected.

“We went out and made a nice, clean run in the first round,” Enders-Stevens said. “Thankfully because of that first run we got lane choice for the second round. But when we got back to the pits we found out that we had hurt the motor. We had to thrash to take it out and get back up there in time for the second round. We made it in time but just didn’t get it done against Anderson. It just wasn’t our day to bring home the win but that won’t get us down.”

Even though Enders-Stevens was hoping to score back-to-back wins this weekend, she is still optimistic about how her Elite Motorsports team is working.

“All of the guys did a phenomenal job to turn the car around that fast,” Enders-Stevens said, “and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they put in to give me a great car. That’s not a situation anyone wants to be in during final eliminations but my guys worked their butts off. I do think, though, that if we hadn’t have changed motors before the second round we would have had Anderson beat at the line.”

Enders-Stevens will now turn her focus to prepare for her next race at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, June 26-29, at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago.

Enders-Stevens Captures Elusive Bristol Pro Stock Victory

Erica Enders-Stevens wins in Bristol

BRISTOL, TN — After leaving the final round of eliminations at Bristol Dragway three of the last four years winless, Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens sealed the deal Sunday by scoring her third win of the season at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Capturing the ninth win of her career wasn’t an easy feat, going up against two Pro Stock champions in final eliminations. With a round-one victory over Larry Morgan, followed by red-lights from both Greg Anderson and Jeg Coughlin Jr., Enders-Stevens found herself paired up against Jonathan Gray in the final, but when Gray got a bad start off the line, Enders-Stevens motored her Chevy Camaro to the win with a 6.698-second pass at 207.15 mph.

“Bristol has always been really good to me,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve been to three finals in the last four years here and hadn’t been able to get it done until today. As a driver, sometimes you’d rather be lucky than good, and today was one of those days for us. Jeg should have beat us on paper. Fortunately for us, he went red and we were able to move on to the final.

“I’m really excited about the win but it’s definitely my team’s trophy. They’re the ones that gave me the race car that went A to B when it mattered. We were consistent and performed like a team and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I’ve struggled the last month, but it means a lot to me that they’re so encouraging and never waiver.”

Through it all, Enders-Stevens knew she had continual support this weekend, especially from a special passenger riding alongside her Sunday. An unexpected loss this week of Nicole Stevens, a close relative of Enders-Stevens’ husband, may have put a toll on emotions but Enders-Stevens was able to bring home the win in her honor.

“It’s a very sad situation that shouldn’t have happened the way it did,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m just going to continue to have faith because God has a bigger plan and he needed her in heaven for some reason. I know she was probably riding along with me today. I’m just glad we were able to get it done this weekend after the week that we have had. Winning on Father’s Day is just an added bonus.”

To top it all off, with her win in Bristol Enders-Stevens has extended her championship points lead once again, but this time over Coughlin, who assumed the second spot from his teammate Allen Johnson.

“It’s pretty cool even though it’s unchartered territory for me,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been in this position, so it’s going to be something that I’m going to have to learn how to handle, but with a team like I’ve got I know we’re going to be just fine.”

Enders-Stevens will look to make it two wins in a row when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its next stop for the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals, June 19-22, at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

Enders-Stevens Officially the Quickest and Fastest of NHRA’s Pro Stock Class

Erica Enders-Stevens Englishtown, New Jersey

ENGLISHTOWN — One day after resetting the national speed record to a blazing-fast 215.55 mph, Pro Stock championship points leader Erica Enders-Stevens added the more valuable elapsed time record to her résumé with a stunning pass of 6.464 seconds Sunday morning at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

While both marks are coveted, the e.t. record helps in the Mello Yello standings because it is worth an additional 20 points, helping the young racer from Houston easily remain on top of the factory hot rod class despite a quarterfinal exit from the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals.

“The cruel part of drag racing is you set both ends of the national record, so you know you have the baddest hot rod on the planet, but you still have to win rounds to win races and the driver didn’t get it done today,” Enders-Stevens said. “I feel terrible for my guys for losing the race but I couldn’t be more proud of them for getting this car into the record books. No matter what, no one can take this weekend and the records we set away from us. Those marks will be beaten one day, but for now we are on top.”

Enders-Stevens used her record pass to dispatch first-round opponent Val Smeland, who encountered traction issues and aborted his run, drifting to an 8.972 at 107.66 mph. That set up a quarterfinal date with her former crew chief, Dave Connolly, who gained enough of an advantage at the starting line, .033 to .064, to hold off Enders-Stevens’ quicker 6.509 at 214.66 mph with a slower but winning 6.539 at 213.91 mph.

“I knew we had Dave covered as far as e.t. goes, but he got me on the Tree today and that was it,” Enders-Stevens said. “My guys were great and they immediately told me we win as a team and lose as a team and reminded me I’ve won a few on holeshots myself, but I still feel lousy.

“I’ll get over it. The main thing is we increased our points lead and the Elite Motorsports Camaro is the undisputed king of the hill for now and that feels great. I feel so honored to be driving this car and working with this team. I’m a happy girl inside.”

After racing three consecutive weekends, Enders-Stevens and her privately-funded race team will now have a chance to regroup before the 14th annual Ford Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals, which takes place June 13-15 in Bristol, Tenn.

Enders-Stevens maintains Pro Stock points with Topeka semifinal

ees-kan2

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens has the big picture in mind after reaching the semifinals of the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka.

The semifinal appearance was her fifth in eight races this season to go along with two victories, and she maintained the points lead she’s held for five races in a row.

“If we average semifinals for the rest of the year, we’ll be able to hold the big trophy at the end,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s all about momentum and consistency.”

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better at all eight Pro Stock races this season, including third or better in the last seven. She was No. 2 in Topeka and knocked Deric Kramer in the first round, getting the win when Kramer red-lit.

She then took out No. 7 qualifier Vieri Gaines in round two with a .029-second reaction time and 6.653 at 206.92 mph. Gaines was .058 on the Christmas Tree and slowed to a pass of 15.614 seconds at 54.74 mph.

Then in the semifinals against good friend Allen Johnson, the two cars had identical 6.657-second elapsed times, with Enders-Stevens’ speed at 206.51 mph while Johnson went 206.32 mph. The difference was Johnson’s .022 light; Enders-Stevens was .046 on the Tree.

“We had a good car,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were right there with A.J. The ball was in my court and I missed it. It happens and we’re going to pack up and go on to Englishtown (N.J.). The great news is we have an awesome team.

“We’re going to be fine. I’m disappointed, but there are a lot of other teams that would have loved to have gone to the semi’s today.”

Enders-Stevens and her Elite team were understaffed in Topeka because co-crew chief Rickie Jones and engine maintenance man Jake Hairston were not available. Team owner Richard Freeman jumped in to help with whatever task was needed, and the Elite team performed well.

“We did pretty well with what we had, and my team performed well under pressure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were under a rushed schedule, as NHRA gave us 50-minute turnarounds. We were thrashing because we were down two guys this weekend, and everybody was pitching in to help. Everyone pulled their weight and performed really well under pressure, and I’m proud of them.”

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