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After attending ESPYs, Erica Enders ready to kick off Western Swing

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DENVER, CO — Fresh off her appearance at the ESPYs, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders is ready to kick off the Western Swing at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals this weekend at Bandimere Speedway.

Enders was nominated in the Best Driver category, with NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick winning the ESPY. Still, attending the ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and rubbing elbows with some of the best athletes in the world was a thrill.

“It was definitely a neat experience,” said Enders, who earned the nomination based on winning the 2014 Pro Stock world championship. “I’ve watched on TV in years past, so to be a part of it was pretty cool. I got to see and meet a lot of pretty famous athletes, so that was great. Of course, we wanted to win, but the NASCAR guy is hard to beat.”

Enders was able to meet NFL player Devin Still, who accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award in honor of his daughter Leah. Still gave a stirring acceptance speech that was one of the highlights of the night.

Enders now turns her attention to the three-race Western Swing, which also includes races in Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle. She’ll race the swing for the first time since 2012, as her Elite team skipped Sonoma and Seattle last year and she missed several races in 2013.

“It’ll be fun,” Enders said. “Sonoma is one of my favorite places to race at, and we’ve got a history at Seattle. Of course, the Mopars are always dominant in Denver, so we’re looking forward to trying to knock them off their rocker.”

Racing the Western Swing also means Enders and her Richard Freeman-owned team plan to compete in all 24 Pro Stock races this season, but they still are searching for sponsorship despite making the commitment to finish the season.

“Our goal is to always race all of the races,” Enders said. “It worked out OK last year, but it was definitely a nail-biter. I’m glad that we can race them all. It’s going to be a cutthroat year, for sure. Richard is going to run 15 events a year, and we do our best to fund the remaining nine. We’re not there yet, but we’re betting on it.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions will be held at 5 and 7:30 p.m. MDT, Friday, and 4 and 6:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET, Saturday, and the elimination rounds from 9 p.m. to midnight, Sunday.

Erica Enders heads to ESPYs with semifinal finish in Chicago

Erica Enders makes semi final appearance in Chicago 2015

CHICAGO, IL — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders heads to the 2015 ESPYs with a semifinal finish at the Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Route 66 Raceway.

Enders is nominated for the Best Driver award at the ceremony, which will be held Wednesday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Fans can still vote for Enders in the category that includes NASCAR’s Kevin Harvick, IndyCar’s Wil Power and Juan Pablo Montoya, and Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton here: http://espn.go.com/espys/2015/. Voting concludes at 8 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, the start time for the live broadcast on ABC.

“It would’ve been nice to go there after a victory, but that didn’t happen,” Enders said. “We’re still excited about the nomination and the ceremony, and it’ll be a fun night, win or lose. It’s truly an honor to be in the Best Driver category, especially with such great drivers. I look forward to it.”

Enders won the 2014 Pro Stock championship to earn the ESPYs nomination, and her driving was showcased Sunday. In three rounds of racing, she had an average .024-second reaction time, but despite a stellar .017 light in the semifinals against Larry Morgan, she couldn’t get to her sixth final round of 2015. Morgan was .006 on the Christmas Tree, and his pass of 6.630 seconds at 209.88 mph held off her 6.625-second run at 209.36 mph.

“We just got beat,” Enders said. “Give Larry some credit; he’s a great driver and he got it done. That was a great race, but we came up a little short. I hate to lose and it stings when you get beat like that, but my Elite guys have my back. I appreciate that.”

With four victories, five final rounds, and four semifinal appearances, Enders remains second in the Pro Stock points standings. She was gunning for her second Chicago victory after an historic win in 2012 when she became the first woman to win a Pro Stock race.

“Chicago will always have a soft spot in my heart,” Enders said. “We have great success here, from my first final in 2005 and the win in 2012. We wish we could’ve gotten it done again today, but I still believe we have the best car and the best team. We’ll go after it in Denver.”

Enders started her day with a .024 light and a 6.593-second pass at 210.01 mph that dispatched V. Gaines, who slowed to a run of 18.683 seconds at 40.35 mph. Enders then left first on Rodger Brogdon with a .030 light, and she outran him with a pass of 6.608 seconds at 209.82 mph to beat his 6.624-second pass at 209.52 mph.

Erica Enders fired up about returning to scene of historic victory

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CHICAGO, IL – The memories of Route 66 Raceway, site of this weekend’s Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals, are sweet for Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders.

Enders, the 2014 Pro Stock world champion, raced to her first final round as a professional here in 2006, and she became the first woman to win a Pro Stock race when she beat Greg Anderson in the final in 2012.

“Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart,” Enders said. “It was the place where I had my first final-round appearance in 2006, and we finally went on to win there in 2012. I’m really excited to go back.”

Enders has since become one of the top racers in NHRA, winning 16 times and the 2014 Pro Stock championship, but she always has an extra bounce in her step when she pulls into Route 66 Raceway. Plus, crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones live two and a half hours away in Galesburg, Ill., making it a special event for her team, much like Enders’ love of the race in her hometown of Houston.

“It’s the home track for two of my crew chiefs, Rick and Rickie Jones,” Enders said. “How I feel about Houston, they feel about Chicago. We’re going to do our best to get it done there.”

Enders, too, has motivation following a first-round loss in Norwalk, Ohio, last weekend. She qualified No. 1 for the fifth time this season, but her Chevrolet Camaro got sideways at the hit in the first round. Still, she sits second in the Pro Stock standings as the season reaches the midway point.

“We’ve got a lot to prove after Norwalk,” Enders said. “I know that we can do it. It’s times like these when we really thrive, and that’s when we have something to prove but it’s not to anybody but ourselves.

“I’m excited to have another shot this weekend. We go into Chicago with our heads held high because regardless of the results in Norwalk, we’ve still got the best car, the best team, and the best driver.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions will be held at 4:30 and 7:15 p.m. ET, Friday, and 4:15 and 7:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 10 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, and the elimination rounds from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders stumbles in Norwalk first round

Erica Enders stumbles at Norwalk 2015

NORWALK, OH — For the first time this season, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders couldn’t repeat a 2014 race victory, unexpectedly losing in the first round of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park.

Enders had repeated wins from Las Vegas, Houston, and Bristol, Tenn., from 2014, and she won this race a year ago en route to the Pro Stock world championship.

But her Chevrolet Camaro encountered problems at the hit in her first-round match with No. 16 qualifier Alan Prusiensky, and she lifted early as Prusiensky took the win light.

“It wasn’t good from the initial hit,” Enders said. “It hooked right on me right away and kinda smoked the tires. We shake but we don’t smoke like a fuel car. The track was tricky: The right lane was bald and the left lane was not in fabulous condition either, but my guys did the best they could with the information they had.”

Enders’ official numbers were 9.776 seconds at 94.97 mph while Prusiensky advanced with the slowest winning pass of the first round, 6.704 at 206.67 mph.

“I did my best to hang on as long as I could,” Enders said. “I pedaled the car, but it got way out of control. It got very crossed up — that’s the most crossed up I’ve ever been without crashing. To be honest, at the end of the day, I’m just thankful to take a shiny race car home.”

Enders is second in the Pro Stock points standings, as she has won four times this season. Her Elite Motorsports team returns next weekend for the Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago.

“We learned from today,” Enders said. “It sucks because we were on the pole and we lost to a guy who was a tenth slower than us. It’s not the best situation, but there’s a plan that’s bigger than mine, and that’s OK with me.”

Erica Enders rockets to Norwalk No. 1 during final qualifying session

Erica Enders qualifies number 1 in Norwalk 2015

NORWALK, OH — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports team have qualified lower than fourth only two times in 2015, but she sat No. 7 heading into the final session of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Summit Motorsports Park.

That’s when the fireworks show began.

Enders blistered the track with a pass of 6.532 seconds at 211.23 mph in the final qualifying session to secure her fifth No. 1 of the season and 17th of her career.

“It was definitely not where we’re typically at throughout the first three qualifying sessions, but we were just testing,” Enders said. “I tried to remind myself what exactly we were doing in the first three qualifying runs. We were all joking back in the pit, ‘Man, we stink this weekend. We’re not doing a good job.’ But we were joking.”

That was proven in Q4.

“We’re one of the teams that doesn’t do as much testing, so we use qualifying runs as our test sessions,” Enders said. “We were just trying some new stuff and trying to learn, and we took what we did learn and applied it to this fourth session. We wanted to get after it a little bit, and we were able to do just that.”

Enders, the 2014 Pro Stock world champion, faces No. 16 qualifier Alan Prusiensky in the first round Sunday as she tries to defend her Norwalk race victory from a year ago. Prusiensky’s best pass was a 6.690 at 206.80 mph.

“Regardless of the track conditions and the weather, we can still apply what we did tonight to tomorrow’s runs,” Enders said. “The first session Saturday and the first session Friday, the weather was more similar to what it’s going to be like tomorrow. We used those as baseline, race-day runs, and it leaves me feeling confident. I know what my guys are capable of, I know we have a great race car underneath me, and Norwalk’s been really good to us in the past.”

Enders has four victories this year, repeating wins in Las Vegas, Houston, and Bristol, Tenn., from 2014.

“Being the defending champ here in Norwalk is cool,” Enders said. “But tomorrow we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders hopes history repeats itself in Norwalk

Erica Enders - Bristol 2015

NORWALK, OH — Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders hopes history continues to repeat itself in 2015, including at this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park.

So far this season, the 2014 NHRA Pro Stock World Champion has repeated victories she earned last year. She won in Las Vegas, Houston, and Bristol in 2014 and has done so this season as well. Enders added a victory in Topeka, Kan., to help her lead the points standings as she heads to Norwalk, where she is the defending race champion.

“So far this season we’ve been able to repeat every win we had last year,” Enders said. “Vegas, Houston, and Bristol and we added Topeka. Hopefully that trend continues. We’ve definitely got a good race car and I’ve got the best team.”

The Norwalk victory a season ago capped a terrific performance by Enders and her team. She was quickest in all four qualifying rounds and in all four rounds of eliminations, snapping a winless streak by Pro Stock No. 1 qualifiers.

“We broke that streak where nobody had been able to qualify on the pole and win the race,” Enders said. “We had a dominant performance last year, being low e.t. of every qualifying and elimination round. It was a really exciting weekend.

“Coming off the win in Bristol, we’re hopeful to carry that momentum and have a repeat of Norwalk last year. I look forward to winning another ice cream scoop.”

A special ice cream scoop is awarded to Norwalk winners, a symbol of the treat enjoyed by fans and competitors at the track for many years.

Norwalk is also renowned for its impressive fireworks display during the Independence Day holiday weekend.

“It’s one of my favorite facilities to go to,” Enders said. “The Baders go above and beyond to treat the racers like family, and being that it’s Fourth of July, all the stuff they do for fans is incredible.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions will be held at 5 and 8:45 p.m. ET, Friday and Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 10 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, and the elimination rounds live from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday.

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

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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

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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.”

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