News

[Vote Now] NHRA Pro Stock champion Erica Enders nominated for 2015 ESPY Award

ee-bristol-win2

Click here to vote for Erica Enders for Best Driver

WYNNEWOOD, OK — Reigning NHRA Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders has added another accolade to her sterling résumé: an ESPY nomination.

Enders has been nominated in the Best Driver category, joining Kevin Harvick from NASCAR, Juan Pablo Montoya and Wil Power from IndyCar, and Lewis Hamilton from Formula One in the announcement Wednesday.

“Everyone always says it is an honor to be nominated for an award like this, and that is absolutely the case,” Enders said. “I am truly humbled to see my name alongside the greatest in the world, and I am honored to represent my Elite Motorsports team and NHRA at the ESPYs.”

Fans can vote for Enders for Best Driver HERE.

The 2015 ESPY Awards Show will be broadcast live on ABC on July 15 at 8 p.m. ET from the Nokia Theater L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. Enders will attend the ceremony, which will be hosted by comedian Joel McHale.

The ESPY Awards Show brings top athletes and celebrities to recognize accomplishments in sports from the past year. Enders had a remarkable 2014, winning the Pro Stock championship in thrilling fashion in the final round of the final race.

Enders become the first female to win the title in drag racing’s ultra-competitive class, and she did it in clutch fashion, coming from behind in the points standings and winning the last two races of the season.

For her efforts in 2014, she was honored with Racer magazine’s prestigious Racer of the Year Award, beating out competitors across all forms of motorsports in. She also won the magazine’s Drag Racer of the Year honor, as well as earning All-American status from the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association.

Enders joined Elite Motorsports, owned by Richard Freeman, for the 2014 season. Led by crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, Enders won six races and was fastest qualifier six times in 2014. She led the points standings for 15 of 24 races and set the national elapsed time (6.464 seconds) and speed record (215.55 mph) in Englishtown, N.J.

“My guys are absolutely incredible,” Enders said. “They never cease to amaze me. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. This is the first team I’ve ever worked for where we’ve had a unified front and they have my back. I’m blessed to have an incredible group of men, and the chemistry is there. It’s always a positive environment.”

The native of Houston has been racing since she was 8 years old, and she and her sister Courtney were featured in the Disney Channel movie Right on Track in 2003. She moved into the professional ranks in 2005, becoming the first female to win a Pro Stock race in 2012, at Chicago.

The voting link for Best Driver is http://espn.go.com/espys/2015/

Cool under pressure: Erica Enders, Elite Motorsports go back to back in Bristol

ee-bristol15-win

BRISTOL, TN — No one has been hotter at Bristol Dragway than Erica Enders, and no one was hotter than Enders on Sunday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Enders won her second race in a row in Bristol and reached her fourth final round in the last five races. Yes, the 2014 Pro Stock champion likes Bristol Dragway.

“It’s always been good to me,” Enders said. “I guess every driver has tracks where they go that no matter what you do wrong, it ends up right. But today we earned it. We made really good runs for the heat; it was really hot and tricky out there.

“My crew chiefs were stressing, but they have this cool, calm, collected attitude, and their confidence comes over the radio in my ears. That in turn gives me the confidence I need to go out there and drive to the best of my ability.”

With temperatures in the low 90s on Sunday, conditions weren’t the best for the recalcitrant Pro Stock cars, but crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll guided Enders to four quick passes, and she was sharp behind the wheel.

“My guys are absolutely incredible,” Enders said. “They never cease to amaze me. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. This is the first team I’ve ever worked for where we’ve had a unified front and they have my back. I’m blessed to have an incredible group of men, and the chemistry is there. It’s always a positive environment.”

Enders scored her 16th career victory and her fourth this season, taking over the Pro Stock points lead in the process. She had reaction times of .027, .017, .007, and .025 in another brilliant driving display under pressure.

Her .027 light was second off the line in the opening round against John Gaydosh, but her pass of 6.695 at 206.51 mph was more than enough to overcome Gaydosh’s 6.787-second pass at 196.27 mph.

She then had a .017 light against Jason Line, whose red-light handed her the victory. She still made a solid pass of 6.698 seconds at 206.64 mph to put her in the semifinals against Shane Gray.

Gray had a .020-second reaction time but left behind Enders, who was .007 on the Tree and got the win with a 6.703-second pass at 206.45 mph. Gray’s run was 6.724 seconds at 206.20 mph.

Enders had a close race with Chris McGaha in the final, but after a .025 light and a 6.685-second pass at 206.95 mph, she got the win over his .055 reaction time and 6.689-second run at 207.46 mph.

“You have to learn to win, and that’s something I never understood until we did it,” Enders said. “Greg Anderson and Jason (Line) had mentioned that to me when I was first starting, and I didn’t get it until we finally did it. You just learn how to handle yourself in those high-pressure situations. It’s a challenge, for sure, and you’ve got to remain positive in your thoughts, and that’s been a huge part of our success.”

Erica Enders, Elite Motorsports step up to qualify no. 1 at Bristol Dragway

Erica Enders qualifies number 1 at Bristol | 2015

BRISTOL, TN — The pressure was on in the final Pro Stock qualifying session for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Saturday at Bristol Dragway, and Erica Enders and the Elite Motorsports team came through in a big way.

Conditions were ripe for a terrific pass in the rain-delayed final session, and Enders stepped up with a 6.632 at 207.59 mph to snare her first career No. 1 qualifier in Bristol and earn a sleeve of green hats given to the top qualifier.

“I’m really excited to be on the pole,” Enders said. “My guys look forward to green hats, so we’ve got to thank Mello Yello for starting that tradition. It’s been pretty exciting for our entire team.”

Enders was sitting in the No. 4 spot heading into the final session, which started about 8:30 p.m. Eastern, long after its regularly scheduled time. The track had cooled, and Pro Stock’s best took a swing at low elapsed time, and it was Enders who came through.

“It definitely was a long day,” Enders said. “I think we came to the staging lanes five or six times, and I got suited up and buckled in twice and did a burnout once before going back to the trailer (without making a run), so it was definitely a long day.

“We went up there for Q4, and we knew the air got better and the racetrack was in the best condition it’s been all weekend, so we went after a little bit. My crew chiefs (Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll) did an excellent job.”

The No. 1 was her fourth of the season and 16th of her career. She was also No. 1 earlier this year in Pomona, Calif.; Phoenix; and Topeka, Kan. She reached the final round at all three of those events, winning in Topeka.

She has also been hot in Bristol, reaching the final round in three of the last four races and winning in 2014.

Enders was chasing Greg Anderson in Bristol after Anderson claimed the provisional No. 1 with a pass of 6.646 seconds at 206.67 mph.

“We wanted to go out there and put up a big number, but Greg has had a really good race car for the last four or five races,” Enders said. “He and that entire Summit team are going to be tough all year.

“But I’m really proud of my guys. I knew when I unclutched the car that it was going to be a good pass, but I didn’t know it was that good until my crew chief radioed me. It felt pretty nice, but we were still conservative down low, so there’s definitely more on the table.”

Racing on Father’s Day holds special memories for Pro Stock champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders-Stevens in Bristol winner's circle

BRISTOL, TN — Father’s Day is a special time for dads and their kids, a time for children to honor their fathers for all the sacrifices made.

While racing at this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders will certainly thank her dad, Gregg Enders, for everything he did to further her career in drag racing.

“My dad means the world to me,” Enders said. “He’s been a huge support in my racing career, and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without him. We will do our best to bring him home another Wally this year on Father’s Day.”

Erica went to her dad, a racer himself, when she was 8 years old, asking to drive in the new Jr. Dragster class. Gregg agreed and began a long journey as mentor, crew chief, and supporter.

“He gave up a lot for (sister) Courtney and I to be able to race,” Enders said. “From the Jr. Dragster days to Super Comp and Super Gas to funding a Pro Stock team on his own, he provided all the stepping-stones to get me where I am today.

“Now, I’m with a team that takes great care of me and we have a blast together. Every challenging moment was worth it to get where I am now at Elite Motorsports.”

Enders won the 2014 Pro Stock world championship, with Gregg and Courtney arm in arm behind her at Auto Club Raceway last November.

Enders remains a leading contender to repeat as champion, as she’s second in the points standings with three wins in four final-round appearances and three No. 1 qualifiers in nine races to date. She heads to Bristol as the event’s defending champion.

“I’m excited to go back,” Enders said. “So far this year, we’ve won at the same tracks we won at last year, so hopefully that trend continues at Thunder Valley. I’ve never been shy to say that Bristol’s one of my favorite tracks on the tour, and the fact that it’s been good to us in the past makes it even more fun to go back.”

Enders has been to the Bristol final round in three of the last four races (2011, 2013, 2014), reaching the semifinals in 2012.

“It’s an awesome part of the country,” Enders said. “The fans are kind to us, and the facility is beautiful. Plus, Bruton Smith and his staff treat the competitors well.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions will be held at 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET, Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 8 to 10 p.m., Saturday, and the elimination rounds from 3 to 6 p.m., Sunday.

‘Deadhead’ sinks Erica Enders’ chances at New England Nationals

ee-nhsun

EPPING, NH — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders is no fan of the Grateful Dead, and after the NHRA New England Nationals on Sunday at New England Dragway, she’s even less so.

Followers of the legendary psychedelic rock band are called “Deadheads,” but that’s a term she’d rather not hear.

That’s because in drag racing, the term “deadhead” refers to an incorrect smashing of gears in the transmission, and it results in a slower than usual pass down the racetrack.

And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday in the semifinals after Enders had the quickest car on the property in the previous two rounds.

Good buddy Allen Johnson made a pass of 6.537 second at 213.33 mph, a run that Enders could have easily covered if she had matched her first- and second-round runs, but during her normal shifting procedure, Enders’ transmission deadheaded and her pass was 6.540 seconds at 214.21 mph. That gave Johnson a narrow victory to the final round.

“It’s disappointing, for sure,” Enders said. “Instead of the gears lining up and going into the right gear, it just misses when it’s supposed to align and it doesn’t shift. It’s no one’s fault and it happens every now and then in Pro Stock, but that doesn’t take the sting out of it.”

The 2014 Pro Stock champion, Enders had the dominant car on Sunday in Epping. She qualified No. 4, but crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll tuned the red Chevrolet Camaro to a pass of 6.513 at 214.69 mph in the first round against V. Gaines. That was the quickest and fastest pass of the round, and the speed broke Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s year-old track record.

She went even quicker in the next round against Vincent Nobile. While Nobile made a pass of 6.546 seconds at 213.47 mph, Enders blistered the track with a 6.506-second run at 214.66 mph to advance to the semifinals.

“It just wasn’t our day, but we had the quickest car on the property today thanks to my guys,” Enders said. “They’re the best guys out here, and I have complete faith in them all. We’ll be back in Bristol next week, and we’re the defending champions there, so our heads are held high.”

Next on the NHRA schedule is the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals next weekend at Bristol Dragway.

No. 4 qualifier Erica Enders looking for win No. 4 of the season

ee-epping1

EPPING, NH — Reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will try to add to her class-leading three victories Sunday at New England Dragway from the No. 4 qualifying spot. The popular pro posted a best run of 6.543 at 211.99 mph in her Elite Motorsports Camaro to earn the slot, placing herself right in the middle of the top title contenders.

The No. 4 starting spot was lucky for Enders in her hometown of Houston, where she went on to win the event. She’s also won from the No. 1 spot (Topeka) and the No. 2 position (Las Vegas).

“The bottom line is you need to be prepared to beat everyone if you expect to win the race, regardless of where you qualify,” Enders said. “You come into a race with the initial goal of qualifying for eliminations. Then you aim for being in the top half of the field so you have lane choice in Round 1. Then you try to get as many bonus point as you can each qualifying session. Then if you’re lucky, you’re on the pole. We’ve clicked off all of those things but one so we’re very happy.

“Tomorrow’s a new day. We’ll have lane choice but we still need to race hard. Having that No. 1 on the door (denoting her champion status) brings out the best in everyone we race. People drag their best stuff up there when they know we’re in the other lane and everyone takes their best shot. It’s been an adjustment for us, but we’re used to now. We have a lot of confidence in our car, our horsepower and our abilities.”

The NHRA returned to New England Dragway just two years ago so the track is one of the places Enders has yet to score a victory, something she’d love to change Sunday.

“The fans up here are insane,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock racer Richie Stevens. “They love sports, all kinds of sports, and they have absolutely packed this place the last two days. I think it’s really awesome that we’re back in this market. It’s important to bring the top level of drag racing to these fans.

“One of the things you always dream about is winning at every racetrack. It would just be such a cool thing to be able to say. I don’t think many drivers have won at every track and since we’ve only raced here twice, it’s one everyone wants to check off their list, including us.”

As the fourth-best qualifier, Enders will open eliminations against Vieri Gaines, who qualified 13th on the ladder with a 6.643 at 211.00 mph.

ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 7:30-10 p.m., Saturday, and the elimination rounds from 5-8 p.m., Sunday.

Reigning world champion drag racer Erica Enders expects excellence in Epping

ee-etown4

EPPING, NH — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports Pro Stock race team are expecting a memorable outing at this weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals, and the world champions have plenty of reason to be optimistic, including three victories in the last five races, three top qualifying efforts, and an enviable 20-6 race day mark in the first nine races of the season.

“Everything’s been clicking for us,” said Enders, a Houston native who now lives in New Orleans with her husband, fellow racer Richie Stevens. “We even switched to a new car a few races back but really didn’t miss a beat. In fact, we got even better. It speaks to the quality of work these guys put in every day. We expect the best from each other and they deliver it time after time.

“Our team owner, Richard Freeman, is really good at getting the best out of people and that attitude spreads throughout the team. We’re not cocky; we just know what we’re capable of, and we feel a huge responsibility to prove ourselves every weekend.”

Enders has chalked up national event wins in Las Vegas, Houston, and Topeka, Kan., this year. She also won the K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas, a special non-points event for the category’s top-eight teams from the last 12 months. Her three national event wins are the most in the Pro Stock class and tied for most in the pro ranks with Top Fuel’s Antron Brown and Funny Car’s Matt Hagan.

“I’m sure if you asked Antron and Matt they’d tell you the same thing, that whenever you win a Wally all you really want to do is win another one,” she said. “It’s addictive. It’s the best reward for the crew and the engine builders for all the long hours they put in to make me look good. I get on TV, but they’re the real heroes of this operation, no doubt.”

With 15 national event wins in her career, Enders is just three behind legendary nitro pilot and trailblazer Shirley Muldowney, a longtime idol who has become a great friend and confidant to the 31-year-old Enders.

“I’ve been hearing about Shirley’s mark lately because the media picks up on the numbers, but there is no comparing me and her,” Enders said. “What she went through back when she raced was really tough. She opened the door for girls like me to even know we had a chance to race. Plus, they didn’t run near as many races every year back then, so to compare her numbers to mine is crazy.

“Bottom line, Shirley will always be the first lady of drag racing. She is a great friend and someone I know I can call at any time of the day or night to ask her advice. Her and Angelle (Sampey) were such a big help last year when the championship battle got intense. I’m honored just to be mentioned alongside of them.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions will be held at 4:30 and 7 p.m. ET, Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 7:30 to 10 p.m., Saturday, and the elimination rounds from 5 to 8 p.m., Sunday.

Rare first-round exit for world champion Erica Enders in E-town

ee-etown3

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — For just the third time in the last two years, reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders suffered a first-round departure Sunday at the 46th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals.

Enders rolled up to the starting line for what should have been a routine race against Round 1 opponent Alan Prusiensky, who qualified more than a tenth of a second behind Enders, but as she executed her prerace burnout, Enders knew that something was wrong with her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

“I could hear something was off in the motor on the burnout,” she said. “I radioed the guys and they said to go ahead and stage to see if the other guy would red-light (foul out) and give us a gift. I had a pretty good feeling we couldn’t make any sort of run, so that was the best hope we had.”

Following team owner Richard Freeman’s instructions, Enders staged her car and even peeled off a fantastic .016-second reaction time, well ahead of part-timer Prusiensky’s .042-second launch, but as she progressed down Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Enders could sense that her motor was laboring, so rather than risk further damage she pushed in the clutch and aborted the run.

“Fortunately we came into this race with a cushion at the top of the points, so if we have to give away a race, this is as good a time as any,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock racer Richie Stevens. “Our lead will be gone by the end of the day, but we’ll regroup and be back to full strength by next weekend’s race.”

The Oklahoma-based Elite Motorsports team will repair the motor on the road as the NHRA tour heads straight to Epping, N.H., for the NHRA New England Nationals, which runs Friday through Sunday at New England Dragway.

“We have several motors on the truck, so we’ll fix this one and see how it runs and either use it in Epping or swap it out with another one,” Enders said. “All of the powerplants we have are about the same, so it won’t be an issue.

“I’m sure when they take the motor apart it will be something little. It happens in this sport. We’re running these motors at such a high rpm that stuff like this happens from time to time. I have the best team and the best engine guys in the world, so we’ll get her fixed up and ready for Epping.”

Page 1 of 2112345...1020...Last »