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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.”

Pro Stock Points Leader Enders-Stevens to Skip Sonoma, Seattle Races

Erica Enders-Stevens wins in Bristol

DENVER, CO — Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens will skip the NHRA national events in Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle in order to better prepare for the rapidly-approaching Countdown to the Championship, Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman announced Sunday at Bandimere Speedway. Enders-Stevens has led the points since March, making her the most prolific racer in the pro classes this season.

“This has been the game plan for us from the start,” Freeman said. “The fact we’ve had such a great year and Erica has been driving so well is bringing more attention to this move but we never intended to run the entire schedule. We don’t have a major sponsor, so there are no commitments to fulfill. The rest of our supporters are totally onboard.

“We’ve got some things we want to work on to prepare for the last few regular-season races and especially the Countdown. I really believe we’ll still be in the points lead, even skipping Sonoma and Seattle, or we’ll be close enough to get that No. 1 ranking back in the two races before the Countdown starts.”

Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock class with four victories this season, also winning the non-points K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas. She has collected at least one round-win at every race and has led the points standings after 10 of 14 races. Her 241-point lead at the start of this weekend’s race is the largest in any professional class.

The Houston native’s victory on July 6 in Norwalk, Ohio, was the 10th of her career, making her only the third female to post double-digit national event victories in NHRA history (along with three-time series champions Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney). She is far and away the most successful woman in Pro Stock class history with 10 career victories, eight No. 1 qualifiers, and 143 elimination round-wins. She is the only female to have won or been top qualifier in Pro Stock.

“We’ve got lots of goals left to accomplish, not the least of which is winning the Mello Yello Pro Stock championship,” Enders-Stevens said. “The guys will have this Camaro ready to win Brainerd and Indy and all six races in the Countdown. I don’t believe this will affect our plan of attack at all. It’s a team decision and obviously every decision Richard has made this year has worked out perfectly, so we’ll go home and prepare for Brainerd.”

This is the first time in NHRA’s playoff era that a class points leader has willingly skipped races.

The next race for the Elite Motorsports team will take place Aug. 14-17 with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.

Can Enders-Stevens go 3-for-3 from the No 3 spot?

Erica Enders-Stevens Mile High Nationals

DENVER, CO — Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens hopes to go 3-for-3 from the No. 3 qualifying spot when final eliminations for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals begin on Sunday at Bandimere Speedway.

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 3 in Las Vegas … and won the race. She qualified No. 3 in Bristol … and won the race. Both times she started off eliminations by beating Larry Morgan in the first round.

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 3 here on Thunder Mountain and will race Morgan in the first round.

“I sure hope history repeats itself,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens has more than history on her side. She is the runaway points leader in the ultra-competitive class, with four victories this season, including at NHRA’s most recent race in Norwalk, Ohio.

“It would be cool to get another win here,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens made four good passes in qualifying, with her top lap of 6.934 seconds at 198.29 mph putting her in the No. 3 spot. But she was also in the top three in the three other qualifying sessions.

“We haven’t killed it here yet though,” Enders-Stevens said. “My crew chiefs are perfectionists and they haven’t been extremely pleased, but you have to be pleased with what’s going on this weekend. I just try to remind them what a good job they are doing and that we will be just fine.

“We have a consistent race car. We didn’t come up here to test and I haven’t raced here in a couple years, so it’s just different racing at altitude. All things considered it’s been a really great weekend so far.”

Morgan’s best pass was 7.019 seconds at 196.16 mph.

“The consistency will pay off tomorrow, going A to B on a hot track and crazy air conditions,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m optimistic. We need to have a good race day tomorrow.”

Final eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

Plan of Attack Stays the Same for Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports

Erica Enders-Stevens Norwalk burnout

DENVER, CO — Allen Johnson may be the king of the mountain, but the queen of Pro Stock is ready to knock him off his perch.

Johnson has been to the final round seven years in a row at Bandimere Speedway — winning five times — but Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team are looking to end his two-year winning streak at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals this weekend.

“I’m going to do everything I can to stop him,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens and her husband Richie are good friends with Johnson and his wife Pam, but friendships are put aside when helmet visors are closed.

“They’ve been the king of the mountain for a lot of years, and the Mopars always run really well at altitude, Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) and V. Gaines included,” Enders-Stevens said. “But our job is to do our best every weekend and make a run for the trophy. That plan won’t change for this weekend.”

Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock standings by 241 points over Johnson and is coming off her class-leading fourth victory of the season in Norwalk, Ohio, on July 6.

Bandimere Speedway is a different animal than every other track because its mile-high altitude affects horsepower and the tune-up, but Enders-Stevens and her team are ready for anything.

“It’s a challenge racing at altitude from a tuning standpoint and from a driving standpoint,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’ll be a very interesting weekend. We need to stay focused on the task at hand, and that’s to be consistent and go rounds. Going rounds gets more points, obviously, and that’s very important.”

Denver is one of Enders-Stevens’ favorite stops on the NHRA schedule, as she has raced there for years, dating back to her Sportsman days.

“We’ve been friends with the Bandimere family a long time,” Enders-Stevens said. “What they’ve done for our sport has been awesome, and the hospitality they offer is second to none.

“It’s going to be a hot weekend, but their cooling system in the track will help keep track temps at a manageable level. I’m appreciative to the Bandimere family for always providing us with a great facility, and we look forward to coming to Denver every year.”

Enders-Stevens will also participate in the Go Red For Women Track Walk at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday morning in support of the American Heart Association.

“It raises awareness for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women,” Enders-Stevens said. “Everybody is invited and be sure to wear red!”

Qualifying for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals is held at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m. MDT, Friday, and at 3:15 and 5:45 p.m., Saturday. Final eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all qualifying and elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

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.”

Elite Motorsports’ Enders-Stevens Secures Pro Stock Pole at Norwalk

Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in Norwalk

NORWALK, Ohio — Erica Enders-Stevens will take a dominant Elite Motorsports Camaro into final eliminations for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in all four qualifying sessions this weekend, earning her second No. 1 of the season, the eighth of her career and second in Norwalk.

“We’ve got a really consistent hot rod right now,” said Enders-Stevens, who also was No. 1 here in 2011. “(Crew chiefs) Rick and Rickie Jones have got the setup down pat. In the first session today we used as our race day setup because those will be the conditions we’re going to race under tomorrow. We had the worst lane for Pro Stock, the left lane, and we went up there and tried some things that are going to work for tomorrow, hopefully.

“I’m just really proud of my team, proud to be their driver. Consistency is what’s going to get it done.”

Enders-Stevens’ best pass was 6.523 seconds at 212.63, lowering the track record in both categories. The Pro Stock points leader will line up against No. 16 qualifier Travis Mazza in the first round Sunday. Mazza will make his first career start after a pass of 7.365 seconds at 200.86 mph.

Earning bonus points from qualifying will increase Enders-Stevens’ points lead, which was 190 coming into the race.

“It’s the first time it’s happened in my Pro Stock career, but we’ve got a lot of racing left,” Enders-Stevens said. “We try to put that aside and just try to be consistent week in and week out. That’s what’s going to get it done. It’s pretty surreal. For me, I’ve watched a lot of these guys since I was a kid. It’s an honor to be where I’m at. Very humbling and exciting.”

Enders-Stevens brought a renewed attitude to Norwalk after a talk with Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden earlier this week. Enders-Stevens has been in a minor slump on the starting line, but Glidden pumped her up with some positive reinforcement as well as good advice about the race car.

“Bob called me and he was like, ‘Erica, what the hell is going on?’ ” Enders-Stevens said. “We talked for almost an hour and went over almost every aspect of it.”

One suggestion Glidden made was for Enders-Stevens to talk to the father-son crew chief team about changes made to the race car and how it affected her driving.

“Things are coming around,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve had good reaction times through qualifying, and we’ll see if that parlays over into race day. I just have a new outlook. I need to enjoy where I’m at. I’ve been having fun, but I’ve been putting a little too much pressure on myself. I needed to get the head game side of it straight, and I feel good this weekend. I feel confident and I’m not stressed out anymore.”

Enders-Stevens Moves to Number 1, Sets Norwalk Track Record in Friday Qualifying

Erica Enders-Stevens set Norwalk Track Record

NORWALK, Ohio — Looking to extend her current points lead in the NHRA championship standings, Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens topped the leaderboard after the first day of qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals this weekend at Summit Motorsports Park.

Her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro blistered down the track in Q1 with a 6.523-second pass at 212.63 mph, setting a new track record in both top speed and low E.T. While her pass in Q2 wasn’t quite as fast, it was consistent, at 6.528 seconds 212.15 mph, keeping her in the No. 1 qualifier position.

“That was pretty exciting,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve had a couple off weekends lately, more so me as a driver. The guys have really worked hard and I couldn’t be more proud to throw up the numbers we put up today. We were hoping for even better numbers this evening but the starting line got a little challenging.

“We’ll see what we’re dealt tomorrow but I have a lot of faith in my guys. They’ve given me a very consistent race car and that’s really all a driver could ask for. I’ve been able to work on my side of things and they’ve been more than willing to help. I feel good this weekend. I feel confident and most of all I’m having fun.”

Not only have conditions this weekend been better than ever for Norwalk, they may be the best they have seen all season so far for the Pro Stock class. With such great conditions, Enders-Stevens and the Elite Motorsports crew are preparing to make even better passes when qualifying continues Saturday.

“This is abnormal weather up here for this time of year,” Enders-Stevens said. “I remember 2012 here when it was 108 degrees in the shade and how brutal that was. These temperatures are really nice and something you don’t quite often see in the summer months so we should be able to get after it more.

“Providing the starting line is better tomorrow, you’ll see better times, but it just depends. The track is great, it’s just the first four feet we have to navigate that is really crucial in Pro Stock. Rick and Rickie Jones, my crew chiefs, have done a really great job with that though.”

Qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will continue at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m., Saturday with eliminations beginning at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Independence Day an Important Holiday for Elite Motorsports Driver Enders-Stevens

Erica Enders-Stevens Route 66 Raceway

NORWALK, Ohio — For Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens, Independence Day is a reminder of all the people who helped make the United States the country it is.

The Pro Stock points leader has shown her patriotism in various forms over the years, including visiting military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Gulf War. She now serves as a spokesperson for Hot Rods for Heroes, an organization dedicated to honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifices for our freedoms.

“It’s an important day for our country, and we need to remember how blessed we are to have the troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to remain free and do what we love to do,” Enders-Stevens said as she prepares to race at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals this weekend at Summit Motorsports Park. “July 4 always helps me keep everything in perspective.”

July 4 is an important holiday for Summit Motorsports Park, as the Bader family traditionally holds a big fireworks show during the race weekend. This weekend, the show will be on July 4.

“They have the best fireworks show around,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got a little buddy named Robert who races Jr. Dragsters there, and every year he comes by my pit to get me and we go watch the fireworks together. I always look forward to that.”

Enders-Stevens also looks forward to the friendliness and professionalism of the entire Summit Motorsports Park staff, from track president Bill Bader Jr. on down. The track has long been known for its hospitality to racers and fans.

Enders-Stevens hasn’t exactly been hospitable to the Pro Stock class this year, as she leads the standings by 190 points at the halfway mark of the season. She has won three times in four final-round appearances — not including the special K&N Horsepower Challenge race in Las Vegas — and is yet to lose in the first round.

After qualifying No. 5 at the season-opener, Enders-Stevens has qualified first or second in 10 of the 11 races since.

But the Elite Motorsports team will not sit on its hands.

“There is absolutely no complacency,” Enders-Stevens said. “Things are just going to get more difficult as the year goes on. We really want to be on top at the end of the year, and we’ve got to remain hungry, consistent, and give it our all.”

Qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will be held at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

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