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Enders-Stevens earns prestigious Racer of the Year Award

Erica Enders-Stevens Racer of the Year

WYNNEWOOD, OK – Reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens has been named RACER Magazine’s 2014 Racer of the Year.

The Elite Motorsports driver is the first woman to win the prestigious award, and she beat out NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick, IndyCar champ Will Power, Formula 1 titlist Lewis Hamilton and others among motorsports’ best. Enders-Stevens also won the magazine’s Drag Racer of the Year Award.

“I truly can’t put into words how I felt after I found out we had won the Racer of the Year award,” Enders-Stevens said. “First of all, I am incredibly thankful for all the fans who took time to vote for us. I’ve always said my fans are the best, and they proved it again.”

Enders-Stevens earned 48.9 percent of the vote from fans in Racer of the Year voting, easily topping Harvick’s 6.2 percent and Hamilton’s 5.4 percent. She garnered nearly 66 percent of the vote for Drag Racer of the Year, while John Force was next with 14.6 percent.

Enders-Stevens won the 2014 Pro Stock title in dramatic fashion, as the championship battle went down to the final round of the final race. She won six times in 2014, including the final two races, to become the first woman in history to win the Pro Stock title and the third woman to win an NHRA championship.

Enders-Stevens, 31, was fourth in the points standings with four races remaining, but she raced to the semifinals in St. Louis and Reading, Pa., to move to second place.

At the penultimate race, in Las Vegas, Enders-Stevens faced points leader Jason Line in a pivotal semifinal battle. She won that round and then beat five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final round to win the race and take over the points lead.

At the season finale in Pomona, Calif., Enders-Stevens and Line were once again on a collision course as the two were on opposite sides of the ladder. After winning her first two rounds, Enders-Stevens faced Jonathan Gray in the semifinals. For the first time in NHRA pro history, both drivers ripped off perfect .000-second reaction times, with Enders-Stevens advancing to the final thanks to a quicker pass.

That put her against Line in a winner-take-all final round, and when Line went red, Enders-Stevens joined Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey as the only women to win an NHRA title.

“When my Elite Motorsports team and I achieved my lifelong goal of winning the NHRA Pro Stock championship last year, we all felt on top of the world,” Enders-Stevens said. “When we found out we won the prestigious Racer of the Year award, those feelings came back. I’ve got to thank my team owner Richard Freeman, my crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones and everyone at Elite for making the 2014 season the best of my career. We were fortunate enough to win six races – and the special K&N Horsepower Challenge event – and we were fast all year, thanks to our tremendous horsepower from Jake Hairston and Nick Ferri.

“But our championship was still in doubt, right down to the last round of the last race. In what was truly a Hollywood ending, we were able to win that round, that race and the championship.”

Enders-Stevens was named to the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-America Team for 2014. She was the lone female among the eight drivers selected.

“Shirley Muldowney was one of my heroes growing up, and I learned a lot from her and Angelle Sampey during my career,” Enders-Stevens said. “We are just a small part of a growing fraternity of women who are chasing their goals in all forms of motorsports. Hopefully one day soon we can all simply be considered racers.”

Champ Enders-Stevens pulls runner-up card in the desert

Erica Enders-Stevens reaches final round in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Progressing through the elimination ladder once again, reining World Champion Erica Enders-Stevens came up one win light short of victory at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Taking on No. 16 Joey Grose in the first round of final eliminations, Enders-Stevens was able to power her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on with a win after Grose experienced an issue with his car early in the run.

In the second round against Greg Anderson, Enders-Stevens cut a .013 light and never looked back, running a 6.570 to beat Anderson’s 6.603 and advance to her second semifinal of the year.

However, the semifinal round was a tight battle in which both her and Chris McGaha had almost identical reaction times, her .027 to his .026. McGaha’s car stepped out and swerved partway down the track though, allowing Enders-Stevens to cruise on to her first final-round appearance of the 2015 season.

“What a great weekend for Elite Motorsports and Elite Performance,” Enders-Stevens said. “It speaks volumes for our team, how hard they work and their determination for perfection. To be three of the final four cars two weeks in a row is unreal. The morale is awesome around here. It’s three different groups but it’s really one team.

“I know I talk about my team a lot, but that’s the most important part of the puzzle. We certainly have a great group of guys, and I couldn’t be more blessed to be a part of it.”

After battling with Brogdon all weekend for the top spot in qualifying, Enders-Stevens had one more showdown with her fellow Elite Performance driver in the final round. Enders-Stevens killed the Christmas Tree with a .017 reaction time and was out in front until an untimely mechanical issue reared its head and Brogdon passed her at the line for the win.

“We’re having a blast,” Enders-Stevens said. “Did I want to win? Absolutely. It’s so hard to get to a final round in Pro Stock, so to give one away it sucks. I am very happy for Rodger though. We’re glad to have him on board as part of our team. He had the fastest car all weekend and he deserved to win.

“We were going after it in the final. I was up on the wheel and on the Tree, and we just had an unfortunate miss in the car. It’s one of those loses that kind of burns a little bit because all we had to do was get down the racetrack and we would have won. God had a better plan though, and it was Rodger’s day.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series action will continue with the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 12-15, at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Fla.

Enders-Stevens heads into Sunday No. 1 in Phoenix

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in Phoneix

PHOENIX (Feb. 21) — Nothing is slowing down Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens this weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, where she looks to continue her title defense from the No. 1 qualifying spot during tomorrow’s final eliminations at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.

“It’s been a great start to the year for our entire Elite Motorsports team, at least a better start to the year than we had in 2014,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m really proud of the guys, especially with how much we’ve struggled so far. We’ve been able to post two No. 1 qualifying positions, but at the same time we’ve struggled behind the scenes. I’m really proud of their determination and perseverance. It’s just really exciting for me to be on the pole going into Sunday.”

Posting her fastest time of the weekend during Q2 Friday of 6.545 seconds at 211.20 mph, Enders-Stevens just edged out fellow Elite Performance-powered racer Rodger Brogdon simply on speed. Even through two more qualifying sessions Saturday, Enders-Stevens was able to keep her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on top of the leaderboard, lining her up against No. 16 Joey Grose in round one.

“When I unclutched it in that final session tonight, it felt the best it has felt since we starting racing in all of 2015, test sessions included,” Enders-Stevens said. “I went out there in third gear and it deadheaded, so the G-meter dropped off and it slammed the nose of the car down. It was just a shame because we would have blown the scoreboard up with that run for sure.

“It definitely started off to be a really great run, and to be able to still put 211 mph after you slam the nose of the car is crazy. It’s basically like you’re driving on the freeway and you put the car in park. Even with that, I’m not worried about tomorrow. In fact, I’m very optimistic after how the car launched in the final session today.”

While Enders-Stevens and her entire team are optimistic about the results they are seeing so far, they feel like there is still more horsepower under the hood.

“Any time you can go run on a national event track within a month or so of the race, it’s ideal to be able to collect data,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s exactly what we did. Our test by no means was great here but we learned a lot, and I think we were able to translate that to the race this weekend.

“It’s not an easy task to get one of these cars down the racetrack from a crew chief, crewmember, or even a driver standpoint. We certainly have a lot to be optimistic about. However, this by no means is the end of our road as far as performance is concerned. We’re still not pleased with where we are at, and we’re going to continue to dig deep and work hard at it.”

Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Phoenix heat proves no match for Enders-Stevens’ first-day performance

Erica Enders-Stevens provisional no 1 in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Continuing to build off her success in Pomona, defending Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders-Stevens put it all on the line during the first day of qualifying at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, snagging the provisional No. 1 spot at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

“I’m just so excited for our performance today,” Enders-Stevens said. “After not making a pass in Pomona on Friday, this is definite progress. There was also definitely more left in that run after we went back and looked at the data. We’ve been a little bit conservative this weekend because we don’t have the data that we’re used to having with the other parts and pieces. With hindsight being 20/20, obviously we’ll go in and make those changes this evening and try to get after it a little bit tomorrow.”

Going into Q2 in the No. 2 position, Enders-Stevens was looking to put her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on the top spot, snatching it from fellow Elite Motorsports power counterpart Rodger Brogdon. Enders-Stevens was able to equal Brogdon’s pass of 6.545 seconds, but it was her 211.20-mph speed, compared to Brogdon’s 210.90, that gave her the top spot.

“With how crazy our test went here in Phoenix,” Enders-Stevens said, “we’re clearly taking some steps in the right direction in regards to the new rules that were implemented on tires and fuel. We’re still learning and trying to acquire some data, but having team cars out there really helps. We’ve got four guys in Pro Stock, including myself, that are running Elite Performance power, and we’re currently first, second, and third. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Putting up a successful performance at one of her favored tracks, Enders-Stevens knows that they still have a lot of work ahead if they want to remain on top of the board Saturday.

“Phoenix is one of my favorite spots to race at,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s where my family is from, so it’s basically like a second home to me. We do have our work cut out for us tomorrow though. We’re only No. 1 by mile per hour, so it’s going to be very close. We’ll go back and analyze the data some more and do our best tomorrow.

“Being No. 1 is just a cool perk in this sport. I’m proud of my team and really honored to be here, but at the end of the day, it’s how we finish on Sunday.”

Qualifying will continue at approximately 1:30 and 4 p.m. PT, Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Enders-Stevens to bring the heat in the Valley of the Sun

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PHOENIX, AZ — As the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series speeds along to the second stop on the 2015 schedule, defending Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders-Stevens is determined to bring home the Wally from this weekend’s CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

“Pomona was our first race out with a new teammate and a new engine-leasing customer and we all did really well, so it was nice to get that under our belt,” Enders-Stevens said. “To have all three Elite Motorsports cars in the semifinals was pretty awesome. It was just nice to get back into the swing of things and establish our new routine.”

Knocking the dust off in Pomona, Calif., after the long off-season, Enders-Stevens feels as though she’s getting her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro warmed up and ready to compete.

“Not to be negative but Pomona was a huge struggle for me and my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “I struggled driving, we struggled with car setup, and we had two new rules implemented this year with a new tire and a new fuel that we’re still getting acquainted with. We’re really trying to gather as much data as we possibly can. To do as well as we did says a lot about this team overall. I don’t feel like we showed our cards at all in Pomona.”

Enders-Stevens is no stranger to success at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. After capturing the win in 2013 over veteran and fellow series champion Mike Edwards, she is anxious to repeat that success again in front of some familiar faces.

“I know that we’re capable of so much more, so I’m really excited and optimistic heading into Phoenix this week,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve won at this track before. Plus, it’s kind of like a second hometown race for me because my family is from there. I’m ready to get back behind the wheel this weekend and show them what we have.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:30 and 4 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Enders-Stevens named to 2014 AARWBA All-America Team

erica-parks-museum

WYNNEWOOD, OK — The honors keep coming for NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders-Stevens.

On Monday, she was named to the prestigious American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-America Team for 2014. She was the lone female among the eight drivers selected.

AARWBA has been naming its team since 1970 to honor drivers across the motorsports spectrum. Other drivers who made the 2014 team are Kevin Harvick (stock car), Will Power (open wheel), Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi (road racing), Donny Schatz (short track), Matt Crafton (touring), and Gabby Chaves (at-large).

“It’s a huge honor for all of us at Elite Motorsports to be on such an exclusive list,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had a dream season in 2014, and we have a bright future together.”

Enders-Stevens won six races in her first year with Richard Freeman’s Elite team. She won the championship in dramatic fashion, beating Jason Line in the final round of the final race to become the first woman to win the NHRA Pro Stock championship.

“What we accomplished in 2014 goes to show that with the right people anything is possible,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m blessed to be in a position to do what I love with people I love.”

Enders-Stevens’ six victories came in seven final-round appearances. Plus, she earned six No. 1 qualifiers and had a 45-16 round-win record.

AARWBA is the oldest and largest organization devoted to auto racing coverage. Founded in 1955 in Indianapolis, AARWBA has grown to more than 400 members throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Enders-Stevens begins title defense with semifinal showing in Pomona

Enders-Stevens reaches semi finals at 2015 Winternationals

POMONA, CA (Feb. 8) — Elite Motorsports turned in another impressive performance at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, though 2014 Pro Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens didn’t have the Circle K Winternationals end the way she wanted.

Enders-Stevens, who won the title here last November by winning the race, bowed out in the semifinals; however, she was one of three Elite-powered drivers to reach the semifinals. Rookie Drew Skillman, Enders-Stevens’ teammate, raced to the final round, and Rodger Brogdon used an Elite engine to get to the semi’s.

“It was a great day for Elite, that’s for sure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had three cars in the semifinals with mine, Drew’s, and Rodger Brogdon’s, so that’s a great accomplishment for the team. It bodes well for the rest of the year, for sure.”

Enders-Stevens was the No. 1 qualifier in Pomona, and she opened her title defense by beating Matt Hartford in the first round, 6.548 seconds at 211.43 mph to 6.651 at 208.78 mph.

Then, Enders-Stevens dumped No. 8 qualifier Chris McGaha on a holeshot in Round 2. Her .035-second reaction time gave her a .011-second lead and it held up. His pass was quicker, 6.565 seconds at 210.73 mph, but her run of 6.569 seconds at 211.36 mph held him off.

Skillman then turned the tables on Enders-Stevens in the semi’s, using a .015 light and 6.590 at 210.41 mph to beat her 6.573-second run at 211.53 mph.

“That’s probably the worst way to lose, but if it had to happen to anybody, I’m glad it was to Drew,” Enders-Stevens said. “I am happy for him. How cool is it for him to go to a final round in his first race? Good for him.”

Despite ending her race early, Enders-Stevens knows her team has what it takes to compete for race wins and the championship.

“It’s a long season, and we know you can’t win a championship in the first race,” Enders-Stevens said. “We showed we still have great horsepower by qualifying No. 1, so we’ll go to Phoenix with our heads held high. I have the best guys in the business, and they bust their butts for me. Maybe there I can return the favor.”

Up next for the Elite Motorsports team is the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Feb. 20-22, in Phoenix.

Defending champ Enders-Stevens starts 2015 from No. 1 spot in Pomona

Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 at Pomona NHRA season opener

POMONA, CA. (Feb. 7) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens is starting the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season the same way she ended 2014: On top.

Enders-Stevens claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the same track where she claimed the Pro Stock championship last November.

“Pomona obviously holds a lot of great memories,” Enders-Stevens said. “I can’t believe we’re back here already, but it’s great to be back and be fast.”

Enders-Stevens grabbed her 13th career No. 1 qualifier with a pass of 6.516 seconds at 213.10 mph. After failing to make a full pass in either of Friday’s two qualifying sessions, she and her team stepped up in Q3.

“That’s a little nerve-wracking if you drive a Pro Stock car,” Enders-Stevens said. “You’re uncertain of track conditions, so you have to be a little conservative to make sure you get down. But my guys stepped up, as they always do, and we made a great run.”

The rest of the Pro Stock class took their best shots but were unable to get around Enders-Stevens’ No. 1 Chevrolet. When rain washed out the final session, she locked up the top spot.

“We were able to stay No. 1,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s all that matters for my Elite Motorsports team. I wish we would have gotten that last run because we wanted to try some things, but tomorrow should be a good day.”

Enders-Stevens and her team struggled to adapt to two rules changes for 2015, as NHRA mandated a new tire and new fuel, but crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones hit on a good combination during testing earlier this week.

“It was very interesting but we figured it out,” Enders-Stevens said. “We made two full hits in Phoenix, and then we were able to come here. Going into Sunday with only one run under your belt isn’t ideal, but I know if anybody can do it, we can. I’ve got the best guys in the world, and I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings.”

Enders-Stevens begins her defense of the 2014 championship against No. 16 qualifier Matt Hartford, who qualified with a pass of 6.611 seconds at 208.59 mph.

Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday.

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