Archive for the Win Category

Enders-Stevens crowned 2014 Pro Stock champion after NHRA Finals win

Erica Enders-Stevens hoists NHRA Championship trophy

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 16) — Taking fate into her own hands, Erica Enders-Stevens not only captured her sixth win of the season at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals but also the title of 2014 NHRA Pro Stock World Champion.

Surpassing Larry Morgan and Rodger Brogdon in the first two rounds of competition, Enders-Stevens’ Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro continued to step up round after round. But after both her and Jonathan Gray had perfect .000 lights in the semifinals, it was obvious Enders-Stevens wasn’t going down without a fight, advancing to the final round with a 6.494-second pass.

With the championship on the line during the final-round matchup against Jason Line, Enders-Stevens sealed the deal. Both drivers turned on the red bulb, implementing the “first or worst” rule, and Enders-Stevens’ -.002 reaction time beat out Line’s -.011 and secured her first season title.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Enders-Stevens said, “and that’s perfect proof that with the right group of people anything is possible and that’s all through God. I’ve got the right group, a group that stands behind me, and we have a blast together. That’s what it’s all about. Win, lose, or draw we love each other and that’s all that matters.”

Enders-Stevens beats Jason Line for 2014 Pro Stock Championship

Already with numerous accomplishments in the record books, Enders-Stevens joins Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey on an elite list of female NHRA champions.

“They are heroes of mine,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m so thankful for their help and support in this venture. It means a lot to me to have my name on a list with Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey. They’re incredible racers and incredible women.

“What a blessing; this is awesome.”

Starting the dream season with a fresh start at Elite Motorsports, Enders-Stevens always knew that they were capable of going all the way. Her win in Pomona proved that.

“I definitely grew a lot,” Enders-Stevens said. “I learned a lot, I became better, and so did our team. I have them to thank for that. It was a long, hard year. I had to sit out two races and we were still able to accomplish this dream, and it says a lot of what we’re capable of. The sky is the limit.

“We’ve got a lot of great things happening for 2015, and I just couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”

Enders-Stevens surges to Pro Stock points lead with stellar Vegas victory

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LAS VEGAS (Nov. 2) — When in high-pressure situations, champions deliver.

Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens delivered under pressure Sunday, knocking out points leader Jason Line in the semifinals and then beating five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. to win the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The victory was the fifth of the season and 11th of her career, and it vaulted her into the Pro Stock points lead with one race remaining in 2014.

“It can’t get much better,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s just really incredible. I can’t be any more proud of my team. We had a meeting coming in here on Thursday. (Team owner) Richard (Freeman) just reminded us to go out there, have fun, and stop putting pressure on ourselves. There’s no pressure from him or anyone else.

“When I came in here today I told myself I was going to give it all to God and do my best. I was a nervous wreck in Reading and I shouldn’t have allowed myself to be. That’s what I wanted to change coming in here. I just wanted to go out there and do what I know how to do. I’m confident in my guys and they’ve given me a great race car. Every time I fire up the car, it’s up to me.”

After winning in the first and second rounds, Enders-Stevens lined up against Line in the semi’s with championship implications in the air, and Enders-Stevens ripped off a .009-second reaction time, getting the crucial round-win when Line turned on the red-light.

Then, facing Coughlin in the final round, Enders-Stevens was even better, cutting a .007 light against one of the best drivers in the history of NHRA. She sped to the win with a pass of 6.587 seconds at 206.36 mph to beat Coughlin’s 6.596 at 209.14 mph.

“Those were two of the most important rounds of my career,” Enders-Stevens said. “I stepped up the plate and it feels good. (Crew chiefs) Rick and Rickie Jones were talking in my helmet and telling me, ‘Give it to God, do your best, if you want it, you’ve got to take it, don’t let up, and go after it.’

“That’s exactly what they did with the tune-up on the race car and that’s what I did behind the wheel today.”

The win against Line moved her to within three points of the lead, and beating Coughlin moved her 17 points ahead with only the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Nov. 14-16 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., remaining on the schedule.

“This is what it’s all about,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve been driving for 22 years, 10 of which I’ve been trying to make this Pro Stock deal work. Everything is just starting to come together. I know God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. All of those ups and downs in my Pro Stock career make this just that much sweeter.

“We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us in Pomona but what a cool position to be in. How blessed are we to be here? Regardless of how this ends, it’s been an incredible year and I could not be more proud.”

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 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.

Erica Enders-Stevens Captures Hometown Pro Stock Win in Houston

Erica Enders-Stevens Houston Winner Circle

BAYTOWN, TX — Ten years after her first national event win as a sportsman in Super Gas, Erica Enders-Stevens returned to the winner’s circle at Royal Purple Raceway Sunday for her first Pro Stock win at her home track.

The number two qualified Enders-Stevens faced number one qualifier and friend Allen Johnson in a rematch of this season’s Gainesville final during the 27th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals outside of Houston, Texas.

“I had to get him back for Gainesville,” said Enders-Stevens. “Allen and I and [Allen’s wife] Pam had breakfast on Friday morning for Pam’s birthday. We talked about how cool it would be to qualify 1-2 and go to the finals and we did just that with the Good Lord’s blessing. Doing it on a holeshot makes it that much sweeter. He got me on a holeshot in Gainesville.”

Erica’s Elite Motorsports Camaro shot out of the gate early in qualifiying, going to the top of the field during the opening session, but missing out on the number one spot late Friday when Allen Johnson posted a best 6.555 to her overall best 6.562.

However, Erica’s Elite Motorsports Camaro continued to run to the top with two more passes Saturday in the 6.56’s (6.562 and 6.568) that would have her as the fastest car for three of the four qualifying sessions. That consistency would be crucial for Sunday’s race in front of a hometown crowd, family, friends and sponsors.

During first round of eliminations against Matt Hartford, Erica came out swinging, cutting a sharp .006 second reaction time and running the lowest ET of the round with a 6.578 at 211.26 mph.

Her next two rounds meant defeating multi-time champions Jason Line and Jeg Coughlin Jr. to make it to the finals. With lane choice in her favor, she swiftly moved through Line with a 6.577 second pass to his 6.639, then advanced over Jeg after he fouled out with a -.004 red light. Erica’s semifinal ET of 6.584 was just one-thousandth quicker than Johnson’s 6.585, giving her lane choice for the finals.

With the threat rain showers looming, the event’s paced sped up and teams rushed to get cars prepped and to the staging lanes. There was a moment of tension when officials motioned to start and Johnson made his way to the right lane while Erica and her team scrambled under the tower.

“We were thrashing,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had to make a last minute transmission change and go through the gears and make sure everything was right. We got up here and A.J. already was in his car buckled up and I had not even had my firesuit pulled up yet. I was getting in, my clutch can was still open, my hood scoop was still in, I was still hooked up to the golf cart, and you want to talk about pressure and craziness. It was very intense. I was pulling up into the water box and A.J. had already done his burnout and backed up. Fortunately enough I was able to focus and get done what we needed to get done. I thanked Allen down at the top end for waiting as long as he could because he didn’t have to. My guys once again gave me a really great Chevy Camaro to drive to the winners circle.”

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Her focus would be key as Erica beat Allen on a holeshot. Her .018 reaction time and 6.594 at 210.60 mph elapsed time was enough to hold of Johnson’s .044 reaction and 6.588 at 210.28 mph pass to capture her 8th career victory.

“I have never won Indy, so I don’t know what that feels like and I have never won the Championship, but this one rates right up there,” Enders-Stevens said. “This one is as important to me as Indy probably is to all the other drivers.”

The importance was obvious by the number of people gathered in the winner’s circle. Family, including her sister, Courtney, and their father, Gregg, as well as husband Richie Stevens and his family were all in attendance. Close friends from childhood and from years spent at the racetrack, as well as those of the Elite Motorsports crew and sponsors joined in and huddled together for photos.

New sponsors Mark Stockseth, Lloyd and Linda Wofford of Engines, Inc. and Steven and Kim Bruno of United Mechanical all saw their first race of the season result in a Wally, and sponsor Royal Purple celebrated a win at the track that bears their name, adding to the festivities and capping off a successful weekend.

Erica is looking to keep the success coming, thanks to an Elite Motorsports team that continues to deliver a dominant car capable of the speed and consistency necessary to hold on to the points lead and win.

“My team’s been really awesome,” said Enders-Stevens. “I’ve had a really consistent race car. That’s what it takes Sundays, consistency. The ball’s in our court. We’ve got to carry the momentum. That’s important in this game, and I know I keep saying that, but it’s huge, and we’re going to keep carrying it as long as we can. Pro Stock really goes in cycles, so I’m really hoping this is our cycle, and we’re going to keep fighting for it.”

They’ll put that consistency to the test when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, GA for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals May 16th-18th.

Erica Doubles Up in Vegas for $100,000 Weekend

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LAS VEGAS — “Next to winning a championship, this is probably the coolest thing in the world,” said Erica Enders-Stevens after winning not one, but two races during the SummitRacingEquipment.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

On Saturday, eight Pro Stock drivers squared off in the annual K&N Horsepower Challenge — a race-in-a-race shootout for a $50,000 prize, bragging rights, and for one lucky fan, a brand new Toyota Tacoma truck.

Erica and her Elite Motorsports Camaro advanced to the finals again this year, and beat her former crew chief and teammate, Dave Connolly, to capture the win after Connolly’s car overpowered the tires and he was forced to push the clutch in.

“The win is very sweet. It’s about having ice in your veins when it matters. We got it done by the grace of God, and I give Him all the glory. I’m a blessed girl.”

With her Horsepower Challenge victory, she set the stage for a double-up opportunity on Sunday. It’s a feat Allen Johnson accomplished during last year’s event, when he beat Erica in both final rounds.

Sunday eliminations didn’t start off as planned, with the Pro Stock field delayed due to high wind conditions in the Las Vegas desert. Unlike Top Fuel and Funny Car, who employ a great deal of downforce to plant the tires, Pro Stock’s aerodynamics are pushed to the edge in an effort to streamline the cars for the least possible amount of drag. This risks the cars becoming unstable at higher speeds when faced with adverse conditions such as high winds and dust blowing across the racing surface.

After the all-clear, the field took the track later in the afternoon and Erica worked her way to her second final round appearance in a row, facing Jason Line in the Summit Racing Camaro.

With identical 0.034 second reaction times, it was all about the remaining 1,320 feet to the finish line and who had the better car to get them there first.

Erica would edge out Line with a 6.612 at 208.78 mph pass to his 6.633 at 208.23 mph run.

“We had a lot of wheel speed on that one,” said Enders-Stevens of her run. “It shook at the top of low and I pulled second. It went sideways and it shook a little more. I put it in third and thank God, it went down. I saw us pull ahead of him and I couldn’t be more proud of my team. My guys, they’re it. They gave me an awesome race car all day.”

Her team, Elite Motorsports, have captured plenty of bragging rights themselves. After securing the Pro Stock speed record in Gainesville, then winning the Horsepower Challenge, they have taken their Chevy Camaro the winner’s circle for the second time in five races, having won the final race in Pomona at the end of 2013.

Led by Richard Freeman, with the father-son crew chief duo of Rick and Rickie Jones and engine builders Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston, the Elite Motorsports team has demonstrated a depth and cohesion required of a Championship-contending team.

“It’s huge and a testament to all of these guys who work for us,” said Freeman. “The engine shop, Nick and Jake, and everybody back home. My whole group is unbelievable.”

By doubling up, K&N sweetens the pot with an additional $25,000 bonus check, taking the grand total up to an even $100,000 weekend as Enders-Stevens captured her 7th career Pro Stock Wally.

“It certainly is very important to us; it keeps us going on this 24-race schedule,” said Enders-Stevens. “This is storybook. We’ve gone a few years without sponsorship; there were definitely more lows than highs. It would have been easy to quit. This is definitely a highlight.”

What’s more, with her victory in Las Vegas, Erica now leads the point standings in Pro Stock, another first for a woman in the class.

Erica and Elite Motorsports will carry their hot steak to Charlotte’s zMAX Dragway in two weeks for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, April 11th – 13th.

Enders-Stevens wins $50,000 K&N Horsepower Challenge

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[From NHRA.com]

Erica Enders-Stevens collected the $50,000 top prize for winning Saturday’s K&N Horsepower Challenge for Pro Stock cars at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. Enders-Stevens, runner-up in last year’s Challenge, made a strong run of 6.64, 208.39 to collect the win over Dave Connolly, who had to abort his run shortly after dropping the clutch.

“We’ve had a great hot rod all year, and it really came together for us two weeks ago in Gainesville, where we set the national record but lost in the final round on a holeshot, so it was great to give something back to my guys,” said Enders-Stevens, the first woman to win the special bonus event.

There were plenty of subplots in the final-round pairing. Both drivers were appearing in their fifth Challenge field, and neither had earned their berth in a conventional fashion. Enders-Stevens finished ninth in points for the Challenge, which draws the top-seven points earners over the course of a calendar year, but got into the field when No. 3 seed Mike Edwards bowed out after selling much of his operation over the winter and No. 8 Greg Anderson was sidelined with medical issues. Connolly got in as the eighth seed as a result of a fan vote. And, of course, both were teammates the last two seasons when Connolly was the crew chief on Enders-Stevens’ entry.

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“Part of being a professional athlete is having to put personal things aside for business, and it is a true challenge and something I work hard on,” she said. “It’s about me getting up on the wheel and the guys putting a great race car underneath me to get from Point A to Point B. It’s about having ice in your veins because there’s no bigger pressure than having $50,000 on the line. The win is very sweet; I don’t care who it is [in the other lane].”

Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports Camaro advanced to the final round by beating Dodge runner V. Gaines in round one, 6.64 to 6.65, then put a .016 to .036 holeshot on Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the semifinals and held on to win by a nose, 6.653 to 6.642.

Connolly, the 2005 challenge winner, opened this year’s Challenge account by ending the reign of defending Challenge champ Allen Johnson on a first-round holeshot, 6.648 to 6.643, then defeated Gray Motorsports teammate Shane Gray in a thrilling pairing. After identical reaction times, Connolly edged out Gray by just .004-second at the stripe, 6.654 to 6.658.

Thanks to Enders-Stevens’ victory, her fan representative, Anne Perkins, won a new Toyota Tundra truck.

VIDEO: Erica Defends her Title in St. Louis

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