Reigning champ Erica Enders uses The Strip at LVMS as her personal ATM


LAS VEGAS, NV — In winning back-to-back world championships, Pro Stock superstar Erica Enders has used The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as her personal ATM, winning more than $250,000 at Bruton Smith’s masterpiece just north of Las Vegas.

It’s a trend she’d love to continue this weekend at the NHRA season’s penultimate race, the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals.

“Las Vegas has been an awesome place for us, no doubt,” Enders said. “Most people blow all their money whenever they go to Vegas but we’ve managed to walk away with some nice checks, and for that we’re really grateful.”

It all adds up. Enders won four consecutive NHRA national events at The Strip, taking both the spring and fall titles in each of the last two seasons. Each of those wins were worth $25,000. She also won back-to-back K&N Horsepower Challenge trophies in 2014 and ’15, worth $50,000 each. By “doubling up” and winning both the K&N race and the national event in the same weekend, Enders received another $25,000 bonus from NHRA. That totals $250,000, plus contingency payouts that pushed her payout even higher.

“Including reaching the semis this spring, we ended up winning 24 elimination rounds in a row, which is hard to comprehend but really cool to have accomplished,” Enders said. “I’d have to ask (NHRA statistician) Lewis Bloom how many times that’s happened in the history of the sport to see where that streak stands all-time, but I can tell you it was a fight every step of the way. I’m proud of my team for having pulled it off.

“It makes this the best track, for sure, and the last two fall race wins were super special because I took over the points lead in 2014 by winning there and then last year we clinched the title outright by winning so there’s nothing but great memories for this track.”

This time through, Enders is a distant 10th in the world rankings and still in search of her first victory of the season.

“Reaching the semifinals in the spring tied for my best outing of the year so even in a down season Vegas has still been good to me,” Enders said. “We’re already working on new stuff for next year and there are big plans for returning to the top. I can’t wait for 2017 to start, to be honest, but we still have a chance to help Vincent (Nobile, teammate) win this year’s title so we’ll do all we can for him.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions will run at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m., Friday, and 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast qualifying action live from 6-7 p.m., Friday. Eliminations will air live from 4-7 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

No home state luck for Texan Erica Enders as two-time champ ousted early


DALLAS, TX — Two-time and reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders was hoping for a taste of home cooking Sunday at the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals but instead the Spring, Texas native was eliminated early by title contender Greg Anderson at the Texas Motorplex.

The No. 15 qualifier out of 16 cars, Enders was hoping for a big upset of Anderson, a fellow multi-time champion ranked second in the world at the moment. Instead, Enders’ fouled out by a scant -.001 seconds, while Anderson took care of business, running 6.607 at 209.46 mph to Enders’ 6.682 at 207.08 mph.

“I figured I’d do all I could at the start and hope he was a little late and we could steal one away from him,” Enders said. “I was a thousandths of a second from perfect but ended up being on the wrong side of that red bulb.

“He obviously had us covered anyway but I ran the pass out just to get the data. There’s always Vegas and Pomona and we have designs on finishing as strong as possible.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates will enjoy a weekend off before the second-to-last race of 2016, the Toyota NHRA Nationals, which take place Oct. 28-30, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Even though the results weren’t what we wanted, I still had a great time being here in Texas. I love this state and miss it when I’m not here. Thank you so much to all the fans that stopped by and encouraged us. We’ve had a tough year but I promise big things are straight ahead and we’ll be back better than ever in 2017.”

FOX Sports 1 will broadcast elimination action live from 2-5 p.m. ET.

Texas native Erica Enders will need perfection to defend Dallas title


DALLAS, TX — Reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders will have to be perfect to defend the title of the annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals after an off-pace qualifying effort that left her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart in the 15th spot on the elimination ladder.

Enders powered to a convincing victory at this event one year ago that all but clinched her second straight world title. It was one of nine wins she recorded in a record-breaking year. The Spring, Texas native hasn’t been as fortunate this season, and she finds herself still searching for her first win of 2016.

“Three races left on the schedule so that’s three chances to win,” Enders said. “Realistically, it’ll be tough and we didn’t do ourselves any favors here during qualifying but that won’t stop us from giving our all tomorrow. We’ve seen crazier things happen in the past.

“We have three cars racing out of Elite Motorsports between myself, Jeg (Coughlin) and Vincent (Nobile). Vincent is still very much in the mix for the championship this year so at our last team meeting Jeg and I told him we’d do all we could to help him get there. The best thing we can do is knock off those cars he’s battling, so we’ll give it hell.”

Friday qualifying ended with Enders posting a 6.652 at 207.75 mph, but that number wasn’t good enough to lock up a spot in the top 12 so the team had to start over Saturday. In her first effort Saturday she was forced to shut off well before the finish line and she drifted to a 9.776 at 94.49 mph.

Later, she came back in the final session and ran a 6.748 at 184.45 mph, the 15th best time of the day. Her first match-up will come against championship hopeful Greg Anderson, who topped out at 6.579 at 210.11 mph.

“Greg and Jason (Line, Anderson’s teammate) have been 1-2 all year between the two of them so right off the start we have a chance to take out a top car,” Enders said. “Obviously they have us covered this weekend but you never know what will happen on race day.

“I’m so happy to be back in Texas. I love my state and I feel so great whenever I’m here breathing Texas air.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast all of the elimination action live from 2-5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

World champion Erica Enders beats title contender Butner before fouling out of Reading

Erica Enders | NHRA Dodge Nationals 2016

READING, PA — Back-to-back world champion Erica Enders notched one of her biggest elimination round-wins of the year Sunday, beating title contender Bo Butner wire-to-wire in the opening session of the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.

“To go out there and get this Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart a round-win at the Dodge Nationals was exciting,” Enders said. “The uphill battle this entire season has been for us continues, but with only one run on this racetrack throughout qualifying, we really had a challenge before us today and my guys, as always, rose to the occasion.

“People always hear me bragging on my crew, and today showed exactly why I do it all the time. These guys are the best, and at a point in the season where it would be easy to mail it in, they fought hard, dug down, and gave me a great race car that took out one of the best cars in the category this year.”

Enders herself contributed to the victory, leaving ahead of Butner with a stellar .019-second reaction time. Butner wasn’t far behind after a .029-second launch, but he didn’t have the horsepower to catch the sport’s most prolific female Pro Stock racer, losing to Enders at both ends, 6.644 at 207.34 mph to his 6.647 at 209.43 mph.

“That round-win allowed our teammate, Vincent Nobile, to pass Bo and go into third place, and then Vincent went on to win the whole race, so it was a big day for Elite Motorsports,” Enders said.

Nobile’s triumph at the end of the day came at Enders’ expense as he beat her in the quarterfinals en route to the victory circle. In that race Enders left too early, drawing a -.007 red-light disqualification, which negated her 6.656 at 207.72 mph. Nobile might have been too tough to beat anyway as he posted a stout 6.600 at 209.88 mph.

“That second-round race against Vincent was definitely interesting,” Enders said. “We were in and out of our race cars a couple of times because of all the rain delays. I did a burnout at one point, backed up, and had to shut off and wait again. There were a lot of variables that went into that run.

“It’s one of those shoulda, coulda, woulda deals, but either way I should not have been red. That’s disappointing to me because it ends like a five-year streak of not being red. Having said that, we would not have been able to turn that win light on. He flat out had us covered. I’m just glad it was against my teammate. He’s going to battle for the Mello Yello championship right to the end.”

The Countdown to the Championship resumes after one week off with the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, Oct. 13-16, at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.

“We’ll head home for a week to work on things,” Enders said. “We’ll be ready for Dallas and try to help Vincent some more.”

Erica Enders wanted another chance at Reading track, but settles for mid-pack slot

Erica Enders | Dodge NHRA Nationals 2016

READING, PA — In between what has seemed to be a never-ending smattering of rain at Maple Grove Raceway, there were moments of really good drag racing, and reigning world champion Erica Enders is convinced she could have made a big move if she was given another chance. But in the end, she only got one shot in her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart and had to settle for the No. 9 spot on the qualifying grid.

“Dang it, we wanted another run,” Enders said. “It got really good this afternoon, and if the moisture had just dried up a tiny bit we could have really flown down this track. I think we just reached a point where it cooled off and the dew point and ambient temperatures were almost the same, so conditions just wouldn’t allow the Safety Safari to get the surface dry enough.

“I’ll tell you what, though, tomorrow this place is going to be a mineshaft. Everyone is saying the rain is pretty much over for this area, so if it stays cool and the track has a chance to air out tonight and tomorrow morning, it will be awesome.”

In her one run down the track Enders ran a semi-conservative 6.643-second pass at 208.65 mph, placing her ninth in the Pro Stock field of the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.

“After missing all of yesterday and seeing so much on and off sprinkling today, we wanted to make sure we got down what was a pretty green racetrack safely and with a decent time,” she said. “That’s exactly what we did, and once we saw the data from that run we had a really good game plan for this afternoon if we got to make another pass.

“It has been quite a struggle this year, but we’re getting things together now and we have a decent baseline to work from. Both of our team cars have been inching up the performance scale and we’re closer to where we want to be.”

For her efforts, Enders will open race day against Bo Butner, who posted a pass of 6.604 seconds at 211.00 mph. Surprisingly, the two racers have not faced one another this year.

“Bo’s been strong all year, running with the KB Racing boys, so he’ll be a good test right out of the gate,” Enders said. “We’re all kind of going to play the guessing game to a certain extent tomorrow because there’s definitely been more moisture on the track since we got to run earlier, so it’ll be scraped and dried and probably totally different tomorrow.

“I’ll leave the heavy thinking up to my guys. I just need to concentrate on doing my job in the car and we should have a great chance.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the action live from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

Pro Stock champion Erica Enders hoping for Mopar magic at Dodge NHRA Nationals


READING, PA — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders is hoping for a little Mopar magic during the Dodge NHRA Nationals this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.

Enders posted her best qualifying effort of the season at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver earlier this season, grabbing the No. 2 spot. She hopes for similar success at another Dodge-sponsored race, this time in Pennsylvania.

“At our last Dodge race this year, we had our best qualifying performance,” Enders said. “Hopefully that translates to Reading.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar team haven’t had the season they expected after switching manufacturers for 2016. Enders won 15 races and two championships over the 2014-15 seasons, but a raft of changes have hindered her efforts this season.

Behind Enders and her team all season, however, has been the backing of Dodge.

“We are appreciative of all of the support from Mopar,” Enders said. “They have definitely given us a great team of people and engineers and guys who are passionate about what they do like we are, so it’s refreshing to continue to work with people that go the extra mile.

“It’s a cool partnership, and I believe with the group of people we have, the sky’s the limit. It’s just going to take time to build this program.”

Enders sits 10th in the Countdown to the Championship after two races of the six-race stretch that closes the season.

“We’ll continue to work on it,” Enders said. “We’ll get better. It’s a brand-new engine program. I have the smartest, hardest-working guys in the business, so if anybody can figure it out, it’s them.”

As part of the Dodge sponsorship of the race, the Mopar Mega Block Party will be held at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading on Thursday night.

“We have plans to go to the Mopar Block Party on Thursday, and we’ll enjoy that with all of the diehard Mopar fans,” Enders said. “It’s always a lot cooler in Reading, which is definitely a nice break from racing in the heat of the summer, and the cars run better up there. We look forward to going up there and probably running faster than we have run all season.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 11:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast qualifying action live from 6 to 7 p.m., Friday. Eliminations will air live from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

Erica Enders exits in first round of St. Louis national event

Erica Enders | NHRA Midwest Nationals 2016

ST. LOUIS, MO — Erica Enders raced to the Pro Stock final at Gateway Motorsports Park as part of her run to the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship.

There likely will be no such similar run this season after Enders was knocked out in the first round of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. In her first season running the Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge, Enders has struggled to maintain her stellar performance from 2014-15, when she swept to back-to-back titles.

“We are absolutely doing the best that we can with what we have,” Enders said. “It’s unfortunate that we are this far behind, but it’s just part of it. Our goal at this point is to finish the season with class and put a game plan together moving forward. We will get all of our ducks in a row and continue to work hard and things will swing back our way.”

Enders ripped off a .011-second reaction time in her first-round match with Jason Line, but the Pro Stock points leader was good, too, with a .009 light. Line then powered to the win light with a pass of 6.609 seconds at 209.43 mph while Enders made a run of 6.699 seconds at 206.35 mph.

Enders is 10th in the Pro Stock points standings, two races into the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Enders did enjoy the support of her fans in St. Louis, where she won in 2012 and 2013. As her team broke down their pit area at Gateway, Enders signed numerous autographs and spent time with fans, including a young Jr. Dragster driver who gave Enders her hero card.

“The fans are always great,” Enders said. “They continue to stand behind us through the adversity that we are facing and offer up words of encouragement, which is definitely good to hear from time to time.

“We’ll get back to where we belong. It’s just not in the cards for this season.”

Pro Stock champion Erica Enders rebounds to qualify No. 11 in St. Louis


ST. LOUIS, MO — There’s no quit in Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team.

Despite missing the race in Charlotte last week, the two-time Pro Stock champions battled back to qualify No. 11 for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

“They are amazing,” Enders said. “They work really hard. It’s frustrating and disheartening to see how hard they work and not have it translate to the scoreboard. At this point, this year is a letdown and we will just focus on getting our ducks in a row for 2017.

“It’s unfortunate to follow up back-to-back championships with the performance we have had this year, but you know, it goes in cycles and that’s part of it. This sport will humble you in a heartbeat, and I’ve learned that the hard way many times, but having said all of that, I’ve been through a lot worse than this, so we’ll be fine.”

Enders’ best lap this weekend was 6.663 seconds at 207.08 mph, and she made four decent
passes in qualifying here after a myriad of issues forced a DNQ in Charlotte last weekend.

“The struggle continues with our Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart, but all we can do is continue to pick away at it and work on it,” Enders said. “Hopefully we’ll turn a corner at some point, but until that happens, the results are the results.”

Enders will face No. 6 qualifier Jason Line in the first round Sunday. Line’s best run of the weekend was 6.611 seconds at 209.43 mph.

Enders is a two-time St. Louis winner who enjoys spending time with the Gateway fans.

“I always enjoy racing in St. Louis,” Enders said. “I have a lot of great memories here from the time I was racing Super Comp and Super Gas, so it’s definitely fun to come back here.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday, and will air live from 1 to 4 p.m. on FOX Sports 1. (All times listed in CT).

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