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First look: Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders’ new ’16 Dodge Dart

Erica Enders' new 2016 Dodge Dart

WYNNEWOOD, OK — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders’ striking new ’16 Dodge Dart was unveiled Wednesday, a month before she begins her pursuit of a third consecutive NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series title.

Like her championship-winning cars from 2014 and 2015, Enders’ car was built by RJ Race Cars in Galesburg, Ill., the famed shop led by Enders’ crew chiefs, Rick and Rickie Jones.

Enders’ Elite Motorsports team is beginning a partnership with Mopar this season and will field Dodge Darts. The car is built to new NHRA Pro Stock specifications, including several new rules for 2016 and beyond: fuel-injected engines with a 10,500 rpm limit, plus the removal of hood scoops and shortened wheelie bars.

RJ Race Cars is also building a new Dodge for Enders’ teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr.

“Rick and Rickie take a lot of pride in the cars they produce,” Enders said. “They both have said these two cars are the best two pieces that have ever come out of their shop. That’s pretty cool.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports team are expected to test the new Dodge in Phoenix the week before the season-opening event, Feb. 12-14, at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

Following successful test run, Transportation Impact continues support for Erica Enders, Elite Motorsports

ti-transport

EMERALD ISLE, NC — After enjoying the fruits of increased recognition accompanying its six-race, title-winning test run with Elite Motorsports and superstar driver Erica Enders last year, the logistics experts at Transportation Impact have announced a new major associate deal with the back-to-back world champions for 2016.

“Erica and the Elite Motorsports team have been an asset to our business from day one,” Transportation Impact Co-founder Keith Byrd said. “More important than the team’s success on the track is its commitment to our partnership. We work hard to deliver for our customers, and Erica and Elite Motorsports have worked hard to deliver for us. We also understand how important it is to build trust and loyalty with our customers, partners, affiliates, and staff. Our teams see eye-to-eye on all those fronts, so we felt it made sense to take our relationship to the next level. We are thrilled to be along for the ride.”

Transportation Impact, an Inc. 5000 company based in North Carolina that was founded eight years ago by Byrd and Travis Burt, first signed on with Elite Motorsports in 2015 at the second Charlotte race, the start of the Countdown to the Championship. With the privately held logistics company’s logo emblazoned across her hood, Enders raced to three victories in four final-round appearances and clinched her second title with a race to spare.

“We are so honored to have Transportation Impact back and to continue this great relationship,” Enders said. “They were obviously good luck for our team last year, and the NHRA family in turn showed them a lot of love back by taking their business to TI. It was a win-win situation and we all feel like we’re just getting started. The best is yet to come.”

Byrd, Burt, and their staff at Transportation Impact specialize in helping some of the largest companies in the world drastically reduce their shipping costs through small package, less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload (TL) negotiation, parcel audit, freight audit, and freight pay services. TI also boasts one of the most sophisticated and cost-effective transportation management systems (TMS) in the supply chain industry.

“Everyone in our world, from Sportsman racers on up to the pros, should check these guys out and use their services, not just with their racing business but whatever they do back home,” Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman said. “We had a chance to meet a lot of their customers, and everyone raved about how professional and positive Transportation Impact is and also how much money and time they saved using their services. They are the best in the business.”

Moving forward into a new era of Pro Stock, Transportation Impact will maintain its position on the hood of Enders’ new Mopar Dodge Dart.

In 2016, Enders will try to join Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey as three-time champions of the sport. The three women are the only female pro champions in the sport’s 64-year history. Last season, Enders ran her national event win total to 21, passing Muldowney’s mark of 18. Enders now only trails Sampey’s all-time mark of 41 wins.

Erica Honored with 2016 Autoweek Driver Award

Erica Enders: 2016 Autoweek Driver Award

From Autoweek

NHRA superstar passed legend Shirley Muldowney for most career wins by a woman

Erica Enders continued her assault on drag racing’s record book in 2015 with an impressive run to a second straight NHRA Pro Stock title.

The 32-year-old Texan racked up nine wins, including three in the playoffs, giving her 21 for her career. She clinched the championship with a race weekend to spare and along the way passed NHRA legend Shirley Muldowney, who won 18 times, for most career wins by a woman.

Enders’ 58-14 elimination record over 24 national events easily topped all professional categories. Her nine 2015 wins broke three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Sampey’s NHRA single-season record (seven in 2001) for a female driver.

“To actually top what we did in 2014 in what started out as a very challenging year for us with the new tire and fuel they made us use, it’s really satisfying and says so much about this Elite Motorsports team,” Enders said. “The 20-plus years it took to get to this point, all the heartache and struggle, it was all worth it to feel like this again.

“By our standards, we struggled at the first four races, and when we qualified dead last in Charlotte, we knew something had to give. We stayed after and tested the wheels off our Rick Jones race car and finally we found something that worked.”

The challenges continue for Enders in ’16 as Pro Stock transitions to fuel injection. With all the teams on equal footing, 2016 provides yet another chance for her to prove her mettle.

Enders and Coughlin to carry Mopar NHRA Pro Stock banner in 2016

mopar-cars

From NHRA.com

A pair of champions will team up and carry the Mopar banner in 2016, as back-to-back NHRA Pro Stock champ Erica Enders and five-time overall Pro Stock title winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. will lead the charge for the brand in the popular factory hot rod class. The combination of Elite Motorsports teammates Enders and Coughlin steering fuel-injected, Hemi-powered Dodge Dart cars puts winners of the past three NHRA Pro Stock world championships under the Mopar banner.

In the NHRA Funny Car class, Mopar and Don Schumacher Racing will extend one of the most successful and longest-running partnerships in the sport. Two-time NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan will once again pilot the flagship Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.

“The Mopar brand is excited to announce that two proven champions, Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin Jr., will fly the Mopar colors in the NHRA Pro Stock class next season,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “We couldn’t ask for greater competitors or brand ambassadors to represent us at the drag strip. We’re also very proud to once again partner with Don Schumacher Racing and work together to bring home a fourth NHRA Funny Car crown in six years.”

Defending and two-time champ Enders, who competed in a Mopar-powered car in 2006-2007, will chase a third consecutive title behind the wheel of her new Mopar Performance Dodge Dart GT NHRA Pro Stock car for Elite Motorsports.

Enders didn’t lose a step after breaking through for six wins and her first Pro Stock crown in 2014, stringing together one of the most impressive seasons in Pro Stock history with nine victories, 11 final-round appearances and six No. 1 qualifier spots on her road to the 2015 overall title.

The nine wins by Enders, a 32-year-old from Houston, Texas, who now lives in New Orleans with her husband, fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens, broke the single-season mark of victories by a female racer, set by Angelle Sampey in 2001 with seven wins. Enders’ total of 21 career victories ranks 39th on the NHRA all-time win list and just second among women, trailing only Sampey’s 41 wins.

“We’re entering a new era of Pro Stock and it’s going to be awesome to take a new Mopar-powered Dodge Dart into 2016 and beyond,” said Enders, who began her career at age eight racing half-scale Jr. Dragsters, with her childhood racing story featured in the 2003 Disney Channel movie Right on Track. “We won the last two championships with carburetors and now the goal is to win the first one with fuel injection. The Dart Pro Stock cars look awesome and I’m already very familiar with Mopar because I’ve driven for them in the past. It’s an honor and a privilege to represent them moving forward, along with my teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.”

Teaming up with Enders in the new Pro Stock era of fuel injection and scoop-free hoods is a driver who has already placed himself among the legends of the sport and who is also no stranger to the Mopar brand. Coughlin clinched his most recent of five Pro Stock championships driving a Mopar-powered Dodge Dart in 2013.

Coughlin will man the Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart GT NHRA Pro Stock car in 2016, looking to add even more milestones to a Hall of Fame career that includes 76 victories, with 58 in Pro Stock, good enough for fourth all-time in the class.

Coughlin is the first and only driver to score wins in seven NHRA classes (Pro Stock, Comp, Top Dragster, Super Gas, Super Stock, Stock and Super Comp), the only driver in NHRA history to win in four different classes in the same season (1997, Pro Stock, Super Stock, Super Gas, and Comp) and the only driver in the pro ranks to win from every qualifying position, No. 1 to No. 16.

“The 2016 season is a turning point for the NHRA and the Pro Stock class,” said Coughlin, a Delaware, Ohio, native who raced a Mopar-powered Pro Stocker in 2005 and 2012-2014. “We’re really looking forward to the upcoming challenges. We are fortunate to have great partners with Mopar and the Magneti Marelli brands, Elite Motorsports, JEGS, and Stockseth Racing. It will be a great next chapter in our careers.

“Also, I am looking forward to working beside one of the greatest drivers in the NHRA, Erica Enders, and the greatest crew, including Rick and Rickie Jones, Mark Ingersoll and Brian ‘Lump’ Self, all talented and championship-proven crew chiefs. It will be a great year for the entire Elite Motorsports team.”

UNOH to sponsor NHRA champions Jeg Coughlin Jr., Erica Enders

unoh-logo

LIMA, OH — Multi-time Pro Stock champions Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders will help spread the message of the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in 2016 as part of a new partnership between the school and Elite Motorsports’ multi-car Mopar program.

“The University of Northwestern Ohio is thrilled to partner with Elite Motorsports and NHRA Pro Stock champions Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin Jr., who have combined for eight NHRA titles and 98 national event victories,” UNOH President Dr. Jeffrey A. Jarvis said. “Everyone at UNOH is extremely excited about the upcoming season with the 2016 UNOH power team of Erica, Jeg Jr., and Top Fuel driver Clay Millican.”

The University of Northwestern Ohio is an entrepreneurial, not-for-profit university founded in 1920 and based in Lima. There are five colleges within the university — Applied Technologies, Business, Health Professions, Occupational Professions, and the Graduate College — offering more than 60 different fields of study, including masters, baccalaureate, associate, and diploma programs. UNOH also offers a variety of athletic entities, including six co-ed motorsports teams.

“I think it’s really exciting to have an institute of higher education offer programs for young people interested in the motorsports industry,” said Coughlin, a five-time Pro Stock champion who also scored a title in Super Gas. “Being from Ohio, we are very familiar with UNOH and the great work they do educating the next generation of professionals, and we hope to continue to expand the UNOH brand from coast to coast.

“Meeting with UNOH VP of Corporate Development Steve Farmer and hearing the curriculum they offer students interested in the racing industry left me very impressed. I’m looking forward to meeting many of these young men and women throughout the drag racing season.”

Back-to-back series champion Enders, who attended Texas A&M University and studied marketing before dedicating herself to racing full-time, said UNOH is the perfect place for young people to begin their pursuit of a career in motorsports.

“We’re really happy to add UNOH to our family of sponsors,” Enders said. “I certainly understand the passion these students have for motorsports because I grew up the same way, knowing this is what I wanted to do for a career.

“Motorsports is a huge business and we need PR and marketing people, team managers, engineers, financial experts, and designers just as much as we need drivers and mechanics. UNOH helps people on every level.”

UNOH logos will be featured prominently on Enders’ Mopar Dodge Dart and Coughlin’s Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart.

Pro Stock champion Erica Enders named to espnW’s prestigious IMPACT25

Erica Enders espnW IMPACT25 Marvel Comics

NEW ORLEANS, LA — After a spectacular season that was capped by her second consecutive NHRA Pro Stock world championship, Erica Enders was named to espnW’s IMPACT25 list.

The list features “athletes and influencers who have made the biggest mark on women in sports,” according to espnW. Enders was joined on the list by some of the world’s most famous athletes, including World Cup champion Carli Lloyd, tennis star Serena Williamns, and UFC fighter Ronda Rousey.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be on this list of the best athletes in the world,” Enders said. “Thank you to ESPN and espnW for recognizing the contributions of women in sports, and thank you to pioneers like Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey for helping pave the way for other women like me in drag racing.

“I say it all the time, but my guys at Elite Motorsports are the best. We have great chemistry, great leadership, and a great work ethic, all things needed for a championship team. We get it done because of the people. I couldn’t ask to be on a better team.”

Enders won nine times in 2015 in one of the most impressive seasons in Pro Stock history. She led the ultra-competitive class with nine victories, 11 final-round appearances, and six No. 1 qualifiers. Along the way, she had an impressive streak of three consecutive victories, all on holeshots (a first in NHRA history).

She closed 2015 in even more impressive fashion, winning five of the final eight races, including three of the six Countdown to the Championship events. Enders clinched her second title in a row in Las Vegas, winning her ninth race of the season.

Her nine victories broke Sampey’s single-season mark of victories by a female (seven) set in 2001.

Enders has 21 career victories, 39th all time. She is second among women in victories, trailing only Sampey (41). Her 19th career win passed Muldowney on the all-time win list for women.

The IMPACT25 list was determined by a panel of sports experts and personalities, including past players and ESPN editors and executives. The list was split into two categories, Athletes and Influencers.

Each of the honorees was captured in a “super” illustration by Marvel Comics.

Visit http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/impact25/2015/article/14254032/erica-enders to read Erica’s IMPACT25 bio.

Rare mistake yields semifinal finish for Erica Enders at NHRA Finals

Erica Enders Pomona Finals 2015

POMONA, CA — Erica Enders didn’t become a two-time Pro Stock World Champion without being competitive, so one can understand why she was disappointed after falling in the semifinals of the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

An extraordinarily rare mistake cost Enders against Allen Johnson, ending her triumphant season with nine victories and the 2015 championship.

“I didn’t drive like I wanted to this afternoon, but our season was great,” Enders said. “The competitor in me is really mad that I screwed up. I am human and it’s the first time I’ve done so probably since the spring. I guess we’re all entitled, but at the same time I’m better than that.

“I hate it because we probably win the race if we get through that round. It’s just one of those deals. There’s nothing to hold our heads down about.”

Enders clinched the championship at the previous race, in Las Vegas, winning her second consecutive event and third in the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

But after beating Vieri Gaines and Larry Morgan on Sunday in Pomona, Enders had some issues on the starting line against Johnson. She decked the engine before Johnson was staged, and then after backing off and hitting the throttle again, Enders had a rare poor reaction time, .068-second. By comparison, she had an average light of .016-second in the playoffs.

Johnson got off the line with a .005 light, and his pass of 6.572 seconds at 209.17 mph was enough to hold off Enders’ quicker 6.542 at 212.43 mph.

“What happened on the starting line was really screwed up and was my fault,” Enders said. “I didn’t rise to the occasion. I hate it; I wanted to win 10 on the year. But what can you say? I had a career season. People in drag racing would give anything to have a season like I did.

“If you put everything in perspective and look at the big picture, it’s kind of hard to be mad about one race. I just know that I’m better than that.”

Still, Enders will celebrate with her Elite Motorsports team at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Awards Ceremony on Monday night at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.

“My guys were the first ones to pick me up,” Enders said. “We carry each other. We’ve had a lot of races where things didn’t go right setup-wise, and we’ve had a lot of races where the driver hasn’t been very good.

“But that’s where we’re different than everyone else. We stand by each other, we’re not critical, and we don’t pile on each other when the other messes up. That’s how we roll.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders gunning for 10th victory of 2015

Erica Enders Pomona 2015 Auto Club Finals

POMONA, CA — Erica Enders has already captured the biggest prize in the Pro Stock class of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: the 2015 championship. But the two-time series champion is far from finished with the season. Enders is a nine-time winner in 2015, meaning she already holds the record for most wins in a season by a woman, but she wants No. 10.

“I’m proud that we locked the championship up last weekend,” Enders said. “But I’m going into tomorrow with the mindset that I want to win No. 10 on the season. That is my job, that is my goal, and that is what I will do.”

Enders, who clinched the championship during her victory in Las Vegas, qualified No. 2 for the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Saturday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with a stellar pass of 6.503 seconds at 213.33 mph.

“That was our first decent run of the weekend,” Enders said. “Obviously, that’s nice to be able to go to sleep on Saturday night with that run. (No. 1 qualifier) Greg (Anderson) made a killer run and he had us by a hundredth in the 60-foot, and that’s what he outran us by. We know where we need to improve.”

Enders starts her pursuit of victory No. 10 on Sunday against V. Gaines, who qualified No. 15 with a top pass of 6.570 seconds at 211.63 mph.

“We have a great race-day setup,” Enders said. “That’s something my guys are excellent at, giving me a fast, consistent race car on Sunday. We’ve proven all year that’s what it takes to win, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Enders will also keep an eye on Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman, who qualified No. 4 and is on opposite sides of the ladder from her. Skillman, the leading contender for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award as the NHRA’s top rookie, is fourth in the points standings but has a shot at finishing second.

Enders is also looking to cap a spectacular Countdown to the Championship, in which she has won three of the five races in the playoffs, including two in a row. Plus, she has raced to the final in four of the five Countdown races.

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