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Pro Stock champ Erica Enders drives Menards, Dutch Boy Paints to No. 10 qualifying spot

Erica Enders | NHRA Norwalk 2016

NORWALK, OH — Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will carry two new marketing partners, Menards and Dutch Boy Paints, into final eliminations after qualifying No. 10 for the NHRA Drag Racing Series race in Norwalk.

Enders’ Menards/Dutch Boy Paints Dodge Dart posted a top qualifying pass of 6.656 seconds at 207.37 mph over four sessions this weekend.

“It’s definitely been a good time with Menards and Dutch Boy on our car this weekend,” Enders said. “We’ve had lots of guests out this weekend for their first drag race, so I’m excited to introduce a new audience to NHRA.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team announced the new partnership earlier this week. She also found out she was nominated in the Best Driver category for the 2016 ESPYs for her spectacular 2015 NHRA season.

This season has been a struggle as her Elite team continues to develop the new Dart with new fuel-injected engines. Teammate Vincent Nobile, who drives a Chevrolet, qualified No. 6 here with some terrific passes in qualifying.

“I’m hopeful that we can run better,” Enders said. “We were consistent today, but we’re not crushing it yet. Vincent is running better, so we’re pleased with that. He’s within one- or two-hundredths of Greg (Anderson) and Jason (Line), which is a huge accomplishment right now.”

Enders and Dodge teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. did miss on racing each other in the first round (as the Nos. 8 and 9 qualifiers do), as Coughlin qualified No. 9.

Enders will face No. 7 qualifier Chris McGaha in the first round after he made a top pass of 6.624 seconds at 209.04 mph.

“We’re proud that one of our team cars is doing well,” Enders said. “We’ve got to go to work on mine and Jeg’s Dodge Darts. We’ll see if we can keep chipping away at it. It’s definitely been frustrating and an agonizing process, but we’ll keep working on it until it gets better.”

The first two rounds of eliminations will air live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at noon, Sunday, with a three-hour recap later in the evening, starting at midnight.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders honored with ESPY nomination for Best Driver

NHRA Pro Stock Champ Erica Enders nominated for 2016 ESPY

WYNNEWOOD, OH — Elite Motorsports/Mopar driver Erica Enders has been nominated for an ESPY Award following her dominant performance in winning the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock world championship.

Enders was nominated in the Best Driver category, repeating her nomination of last year. She will attend the ESPYs, hosted by John Cena, on July 13 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

“I’m excited to be nominated again,” Enders said. “It’s a huge honor for all forms of sports across the board. It’s pretty neat. Hopefully, this year we can win.”

Fans can vote for Enders in the Best Driver category here: http://espn.go.com/espys/2016/?voting=bestdriver.

Others nominated in the Best Driver category are Kyle Busch of NASCAR, Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi of IndyCar, and Lewis Hamilton of Formula One.

Enders had a stellar 2015 season, eclipsing even her 2014 championship year. She won nine races in 2015, breaking the NHRA single-season record for victories by a female (previously set by Angelle Sampey in 2001). She also made two more final-round appearances and scored six No. 1 qualifiers.

Enders clinched the Pro Stock championship at the penultimate race of the season, in Las Vegas, earning the title in style by winning the race.

Enders won three consecutive final rounds (in Brainerd, Minn.; Indianapolis; and Charlotte, N.C.) on holeshots (beating an opponent with a quicker reaction time), an all-time NHRA record across all pro classes.

Her 58 round-wins in 2015 led all professional drivers and ranked 11th all-time for a single season.

Enders also won three races in a row (in Brainerd, Indianapolis, and Charlotte) to tie the mark held by Sampey (2002) and Shirley Muldowney (1977) for consecutive wins by a woman.

“I have a really amazing team,” Enders said. “It’s so nice to have group of people who always have my back. They are absolutely, hands down the biggest reason why it’s been such a success the past two years. This nomination is as much theirs as it is mine.”

Enders became the 33rd driver in NHRA history to win multiple championships and the ninth in the Pro Stock class. She’s also the first back-to-back champion in NHRA since 2011-12, when Eddie Krawiec won the Pro Stock Motorcycle title.

Enders is the first to win consecutive Pro Stock titles since the legendary Jeg Coughlin Jr. accomplished the feat in 2007-08.

Dutch Boy/Menards driver Erica Enders hopes to scoop up another Norwalk trophy

Erica Enders | NHRA Norwalk, OH 2016

NORWALK, OH — Two NHRA Pro Stock world championship trophies sit in the New Orleans home of Erica Enders, but one of her prized trophies is an ice cream scoop.

Winners at Summit Motorsports Park receive a special billet ice cream scoop, symbolic of the popular ice cream served at the track. Enders scored at the 2014 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, winning the sought-after ice cream scoop, too.

“We’ve had some success in Norwalk in the past, qualifying on the pole a handful of times and finally going on to win the coveted billet ice cream scoop,” said Enders, who races her Dutch Boy Paints/Menards Dodge there this weekend. “That sits proudly in my trophy room. I say every time going into Norwalk that we really love and respect the Bader family and how they operate a great facility.”

Norwalk is one of the favorite stops on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule for competitors, including Enders.

“It’s always a treat to go back.” Enders said. “They go above and beyond to treat the racers like family. From the guys who take tickets at the front gate to the guys who bring ice around for us, everybody is helpful and has a smile on their face. We’re excited to go back to Norwalk.”

A victory in Norwalk could be elusive this season, as Enders’ Elite team continues to develop its new Dart with new fuel-injected engines, but though she may be tempering her expectations, she continues to have the utmost faith in her team.

“Maybe right now, the kind of success we expect isn’t turning on win lights,” Enders said. “It’s going to be getting through this adversity and still be stuck together like glue, still being positive, and still having fun. That’s what it’s all about. Yes, we want to win races for Mopar, JEGS, and everyone else, but at this point, all we can do is continue to work hard.

“We’ll be back on top; I have absolutely no doubt in that. It’s just a matter of time. I don’t know how long that’s going to be, but we’ll be back.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1 and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action from 8 to 9 p.m., Friday, and 7 to 8 p.m., Saturday. The first two rounds of eliminations will air live beginning at noon, Sunday, with a three-hour recap later in the evening, beginning at midnight.

Dutch Boy/Menards to partner with two-time Pro Stock champ Erica Enders

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WYNNEWOOD, OK — Dutch Boy Paints and Menards will partner with two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event this weekend at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.

Enders will drive the Dutch Boy/Menards Dodge Dart prepared by Elite Motorsports at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

“I’m honored to drive the Dodge Dart this weekend with such a recognizable brand on the door and the hood of our car,” Enders said. “I’m glad they’re giving us an opportunity to show them what we can do for them.”

To help kick off the partnership, Enders will appear at the Menards store in Sandusky, Ohio, on Wednesday. Enders and her Dutch Boy/Menards Dodge will be at the Menards at 1101 Lakecrest Parkway in Sandusky from 5 to 7 p.m. ET.

Menards has more than 280 home-improvement stores throughout the Midwest and is known as the low-price leader. The company has backed motorsports for many years, in the IndyCar Series, NASCAR, and ARCA.

Dutch Boy Paints, available at Menards stores, continues to be an industry leader in delivering innovative and high-quality products and packaging solutions.

Enders became the first woman to win the Pro Stock championship in 2014, earning the title in the final round of the final race. She repeated in 2015, winning nine times and setting NHRA records along the way. She is the only driver in NHRA history to win three consecutive final rounds on holeshots.

Enders and her Elite team partnered with Dodge to field the new Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart for the 2016 season.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders encouraged by progress in Bristol

Erica Enders | NHRA Bristol 2016

BRISTOL, TN — The win light didn’t come on in the lane for Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge driver Erica Enders, but a smile soon came over her face.

As the two-time Pro Stock champion slowed her Dodge Dart in the first round of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Sunday at Bristol Dragway, crew chief Rick Jones relayed her the numbers: 6.716 seconds at 206.32 mph.

They weren’t record-setting, but they were encouraging.

“As I went through the lights and my crew chief called out the numbers over the radio, I radio’d back and said, ‘We went a .71?’ ” Enders said. “He was like, ‘Yeah!’

That was her best pass of the weekend as Jones and the team continue to tune on the new Dodge. It nearly pulled off an upset of Elite teammate Vincent Nobile, whose Chevrolet qualified No. 5. Enders was off first with a .027-second reaction time, but Nobile’s 6.688 at 207.75 mph ran her down.

Nobile’s improvement, as well as the steady progress of Dodge teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., who raced to the semifinals in Bristol, has injected some much-needed confidence in Enders’ team.

“They’ve been working so incredibly hard trying to figure this Dodge out,” Enders said. “I’ve said before that we’re making strides in the right direction, but that run boosted the morale over there. Jeg being able to get to the semifinals is pretty exciting for us.

“We’ll pack up, go to Norwalk, and see if we can continue to run better and close the gap on those KB guys.”

Enders, who saw her two-race Bristol winning streak come to an end, races in Norwalk, Ohio, next weekend as her team continues to inch toward the front.

“I’m especially excited, even if it’s just seeing a trickle of light at the end of the tunnel,” Enders said. “We’ll continue to chip away at it. It only matters when we get to Indy.”

Dad’s message continues to push Pro Stock champion Erica Enders

Erica Enders | NHRA Bristol 2016
BRISTOL, TN — On this Father’s Day weekend, the words of two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders’ dad have even more meaning to the defending Bristol Dragway winner.

Gregg Enders preached positivity to Erica as she moved up the ranks of NHRA drag racing, and she’ll remember those as she races her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge in the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Sunday at Bristol Dragway.

“His message is always the same,” Enders said. “He’s where I get the quote that I use all the time: ‘Do your best and let God do the rest.’ You can only control so much. I’m a firm believer in, ‘I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.’ It’s on the back glass of my race car and is a big part of my motivation.

“But when you go up there, it doesn’t matter how far behind you are or what you have or haven’t accomplished in the past. It’s all about that moment with my car, my lane, and my guys. It’s up to us, and right now we’re at a disadvantage, but that doesn’t stop me from having a positive mental attitude and believing with all my heart that we’re going to be successful.”

Enders has struggled to repeat her success of 2014-15, when she won 15 races and the Pro Stock championship each year. Her best pass of 6.746 seconds at 205.10 mph puts her in the No. 10 spot, and she’ll race Elite Motorsports teammate Vincent Nobile in the first round Sunday.

Nobile qualified No. 5 — the 14-car field makes for unusual first-round matchups — with a top lap of 6.700 seconds at 205.85 mph.

Enders is coming into Sunday on a two-race winning streak in Bristol. Plus, she went to the final round in 2013 and 2011.

“Bristol is my absolutely most favorite racetrack in the country,” Enders said. “Not because of our recent success here, but because of the part of the country that it’s in. When you’re all strapped in your Pro Stock car and you’re fixing to do your burnout, you look down the racetrack and it’s amazing. There’s not another race facility that we go to that’s like Bristol.

“I really enjoy coming here. We’ve had a lot of success here the last four years with two wins and two runner-up finishes. To do that for my dad on Father’s Day the last couple of years was certainly a lot of fun.”

Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air eliminations from 4 to 7 p.m.

Elite/Mopar champion Erica Enders looking for three Father’s Day wins in a row

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BRISTOL, TN– With two world championships, 21 national event wins, and a 221-137 race-day record, 32-year-old Erica Enders already has experienced many high points in her drag racing career, but perhaps the two moments she takes the most pride in happened the last two years at Bristol Dragway when she won back-to-back NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals titles on Father’s Day.

“Going all the way back to the beginning, my dad (Gregg Enders) always has been there for me,” Enders said. “He used to race himself and that’s what got me started. He sacrificed everything to make my dreams come true, and although I’ll never be able to fully thank him for what he’s done, winning the last two years on Father’s Day and dedicating those Wallys to him was a very cool feeling.

“Those two wins have made Bristol one of my favorite tracks of all time. I already loved the place because it’s a Bruton (Smith) track and it’s really, really nice. Then you throw in the way the fans treat us there and the beautiful scenery, it’s so easy to love that place.”

While it’s fun to reminisce on the past and conjure up the images of good times with her father, Enders can’t help but look at this year’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals as a place she’d love to finally get her Elite Performance/Mopar Dodge Dart on a winning course.

“It’s no secret we’re struggling a bit,” Enders said. “But as I’ve said many times, we have an awesome team of professionals over here and no one is complaining about all the extra work that has been put in this year trying to get our two Dodges up to speed.

“We see encouraging signs in testing, at the shop on the dyno, and even from our teammates Jeg (Coughlin) and Vincent (Nobile), so we know we’re getting closer. We just need to keep our heads down and work.”

As a driver, Enders has been doubling down on her efforts in the cockpit.

“I have a few things I do mechanically with the car, but I know the biggest impact I can make is behind the wheel,” she said. “I’ve worked extremely hard on my mental focus and keeping the exact routine every time. I want to do all that I can to help, and if that means I need to cut double-O lights at the Tree, then that’s what I strive to do.

“We won a lot of races and two championships as a team and we’ll get through this as a team. That’s what my dad taught me. There’s no quit in this pit.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1 and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying action from 2 to 4 p.m. ET, Saturday, and eliminations from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday.

Rough launch negates Erica Enders’ chance at Englishtown glory

Erica Enders | Englishtown, NJ 2016 NHRA

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — Two-time and reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders did something very few drivers have managed to do over the years: leave the starting line ahead of five-time series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. But despite her quick start — an .038 reaction time to Coughlin’s .046 start — her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart began to rattle its giant rear slicks right away, allowing teammate Coughlin to pass her in the first few feet of the race and streak away fro the victory.

Enders fought to get her car under control and did manage to finish her pass with an elapsed time of 6.812 at 206.70 mph, but Coughlin was too far ahead, crossing with a 6.708 at 207.56 mph.

“We’re analyzing the data right now,” Enders said. “We’re still a work in progress. It’s tough to take at times because we certainly got used to winning these last two years, but I know I’ve got the best team in the world and I’m completely positive we’ll get these cars figured out.

“Jeg is running better and Vincent (Nobile, teammate) is really doing well, so all the indicators are there that we’re gaining ground. It’s not happening fast enough for my liking but I’m working on my patience. The good Lord only gives us what we can handle, and we’ve been so blessed the last two years that we will not complain one bit.”

Up next for Enders and crew is the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, which start Friday at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee.

“I’m pumped for Bristol because we’ve won that race the last two years,” Enders said. “We’re going to get our stuff together one of these days and Bristol would be the perfect spot to do it. Having a trophy to give my dad (Gregg Enders) the last two years was really special and continuing the streak would be super rewarding.

“We will continue to try our best. There is no quit in this pit.”

Today’s eliminations will air from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1.

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