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Enders-Stevens heads into Sunday No. 1 in Phoenix

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in Phoneix

PHOENIX (Feb. 21) — Nothing is slowing down Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens this weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, where she looks to continue her title defense from the No. 1 qualifying spot during tomorrow’s final eliminations at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.

“It’s been a great start to the year for our entire Elite Motorsports team, at least a better start to the year than we had in 2014,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m really proud of the guys, especially with how much we’ve struggled so far. We’ve been able to post two No. 1 qualifying positions, but at the same time we’ve struggled behind the scenes. I’m really proud of their determination and perseverance. It’s just really exciting for me to be on the pole going into Sunday.”

Posting her fastest time of the weekend during Q2 Friday of 6.545 seconds at 211.20 mph, Enders-Stevens just edged out fellow Elite Performance-powered racer Rodger Brogdon simply on speed. Even through two more qualifying sessions Saturday, Enders-Stevens was able to keep her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on top of the leaderboard, lining her up against No. 16 Joey Grose in round one.

“When I unclutched it in that final session tonight, it felt the best it has felt since we starting racing in all of 2015, test sessions included,” Enders-Stevens said. “I went out there in third gear and it deadheaded, so the G-meter dropped off and it slammed the nose of the car down. It was just a shame because we would have blown the scoreboard up with that run for sure.

“It definitely started off to be a really great run, and to be able to still put 211 mph after you slam the nose of the car is crazy. It’s basically like you’re driving on the freeway and you put the car in park. Even with that, I’m not worried about tomorrow. In fact, I’m very optimistic after how the car launched in the final session today.”

While Enders-Stevens and her entire team are optimistic about the results they are seeing so far, they feel like there is still more horsepower under the hood.

“Any time you can go run on a national event track within a month or so of the race, it’s ideal to be able to collect data,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s exactly what we did. Our test by no means was great here but we learned a lot, and I think we were able to translate that to the race this weekend.

“It’s not an easy task to get one of these cars down the racetrack from a crew chief, crewmember, or even a driver standpoint. We certainly have a lot to be optimistic about. However, this by no means is the end of our road as far as performance is concerned. We’re still not pleased with where we are at, and we’re going to continue to dig deep and work hard at it.”

Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Phoenix heat proves no match for Enders-Stevens’ first-day performance

Erica Enders-Stevens provisional no 1 in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Continuing to build off her success in Pomona, defending Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders-Stevens put it all on the line during the first day of qualifying at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, snagging the provisional No. 1 spot at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

“I’m just so excited for our performance today,” Enders-Stevens said. “After not making a pass in Pomona on Friday, this is definite progress. There was also definitely more left in that run after we went back and looked at the data. We’ve been a little bit conservative this weekend because we don’t have the data that we’re used to having with the other parts and pieces. With hindsight being 20/20, obviously we’ll go in and make those changes this evening and try to get after it a little bit tomorrow.”

Going into Q2 in the No. 2 position, Enders-Stevens was looking to put her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on the top spot, snatching it from fellow Elite Motorsports power counterpart Rodger Brogdon. Enders-Stevens was able to equal Brogdon’s pass of 6.545 seconds, but it was her 211.20-mph speed, compared to Brogdon’s 210.90, that gave her the top spot.

“With how crazy our test went here in Phoenix,” Enders-Stevens said, “we’re clearly taking some steps in the right direction in regards to the new rules that were implemented on tires and fuel. We’re still learning and trying to acquire some data, but having team cars out there really helps. We’ve got four guys in Pro Stock, including myself, that are running Elite Performance power, and we’re currently first, second, and third. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Putting up a successful performance at one of her favored tracks, Enders-Stevens knows that they still have a lot of work ahead if they want to remain on top of the board Saturday.

“Phoenix is one of my favorite spots to race at,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s where my family is from, so it’s basically like a second home to me. We do have our work cut out for us tomorrow though. We’re only No. 1 by mile per hour, so it’s going to be very close. We’ll go back and analyze the data some more and do our best tomorrow.

“Being No. 1 is just a cool perk in this sport. I’m proud of my team and really honored to be here, but at the end of the day, it’s how we finish on Sunday.”

Qualifying will continue at approximately 1:30 and 4 p.m. PT, Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Enders-Stevens to bring the heat in the Valley of the Sun

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PHOENIX, AZ — As the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series speeds along to the second stop on the 2015 schedule, defending Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders-Stevens is determined to bring home the Wally from this weekend’s CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

“Pomona was our first race out with a new teammate and a new engine-leasing customer and we all did really well, so it was nice to get that under our belt,” Enders-Stevens said. “To have all three Elite Motorsports cars in the semifinals was pretty awesome. It was just nice to get back into the swing of things and establish our new routine.”

Knocking the dust off in Pomona, Calif., after the long off-season, Enders-Stevens feels as though she’s getting her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro warmed up and ready to compete.

“Not to be negative but Pomona was a huge struggle for me and my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “I struggled driving, we struggled with car setup, and we had two new rules implemented this year with a new tire and a new fuel that we’re still getting acquainted with. We’re really trying to gather as much data as we possibly can. To do as well as we did says a lot about this team overall. I don’t feel like we showed our cards at all in Pomona.”

Enders-Stevens is no stranger to success at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. After capturing the win in 2013 over veteran and fellow series champion Mike Edwards, she is anxious to repeat that success again in front of some familiar faces.

“I know that we’re capable of so much more, so I’m really excited and optimistic heading into Phoenix this week,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve won at this track before. Plus, it’s kind of like a second hometown race for me because my family is from there. I’m ready to get back behind the wheel this weekend and show them what we have.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:30 and 4 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Enders-Stevens named to 2014 AARWBA All-America Team

erica-parks-museum

WYNNEWOOD, OK — The honors keep coming for NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders-Stevens.

On Monday, she was named to the prestigious American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-America Team for 2014. She was the lone female among the eight drivers selected.

AARWBA has been naming its team since 1970 to honor drivers across the motorsports spectrum. Other drivers who made the 2014 team are Kevin Harvick (stock car), Will Power (open wheel), Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi (road racing), Donny Schatz (short track), Matt Crafton (touring), and Gabby Chaves (at-large).

“It’s a huge honor for all of us at Elite Motorsports to be on such an exclusive list,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had a dream season in 2014, and we have a bright future together.”

Enders-Stevens won six races in her first year with Richard Freeman’s Elite team. She won the championship in dramatic fashion, beating Jason Line in the final round of the final race to become the first woman to win the NHRA Pro Stock championship.

“What we accomplished in 2014 goes to show that with the right people anything is possible,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m blessed to be in a position to do what I love with people I love.”

Enders-Stevens’ six victories came in seven final-round appearances. Plus, she earned six No. 1 qualifiers and had a 45-16 round-win record.

AARWBA is the oldest and largest organization devoted to auto racing coverage. Founded in 1955 in Indianapolis, AARWBA has grown to more than 400 members throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Enders-Stevens begins title defense with semifinal showing in Pomona

Enders-Stevens reaches semi finals at 2015 Winternationals

POMONA, CA (Feb. 8) — Elite Motorsports turned in another impressive performance at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, though 2014 Pro Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens didn’t have the Circle K Winternationals end the way she wanted.

Enders-Stevens, who won the title here last November by winning the race, bowed out in the semifinals; however, she was one of three Elite-powered drivers to reach the semifinals. Rookie Drew Skillman, Enders-Stevens’ teammate, raced to the final round, and Rodger Brogdon used an Elite engine to get to the semi’s.

“It was a great day for Elite, that’s for sure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had three cars in the semifinals with mine, Drew’s, and Rodger Brogdon’s, so that’s a great accomplishment for the team. It bodes well for the rest of the year, for sure.”

Enders-Stevens was the No. 1 qualifier in Pomona, and she opened her title defense by beating Matt Hartford in the first round, 6.548 seconds at 211.43 mph to 6.651 at 208.78 mph.

Then, Enders-Stevens dumped No. 8 qualifier Chris McGaha on a holeshot in Round 2. Her .035-second reaction time gave her a .011-second lead and it held up. His pass was quicker, 6.565 seconds at 210.73 mph, but her run of 6.569 seconds at 211.36 mph held him off.

Skillman then turned the tables on Enders-Stevens in the semi’s, using a .015 light and 6.590 at 210.41 mph to beat her 6.573-second run at 211.53 mph.

“That’s probably the worst way to lose, but if it had to happen to anybody, I’m glad it was to Drew,” Enders-Stevens said. “I am happy for him. How cool is it for him to go to a final round in his first race? Good for him.”

Despite ending her race early, Enders-Stevens knows her team has what it takes to compete for race wins and the championship.

“It’s a long season, and we know you can’t win a championship in the first race,” Enders-Stevens said. “We showed we still have great horsepower by qualifying No. 1, so we’ll go to Phoenix with our heads held high. I have the best guys in the business, and they bust their butts for me. Maybe there I can return the favor.”

Up next for the Elite Motorsports team is the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Feb. 20-22, in Phoenix.

Defending champ Enders-Stevens starts 2015 from No. 1 spot in Pomona

Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 at Pomona NHRA season opener

POMONA, CA. (Feb. 7) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens is starting the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season the same way she ended 2014: On top.

Enders-Stevens claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the same track where she claimed the Pro Stock championship last November.

“Pomona obviously holds a lot of great memories,” Enders-Stevens said. “I can’t believe we’re back here already, but it’s great to be back and be fast.”

Enders-Stevens grabbed her 13th career No. 1 qualifier with a pass of 6.516 seconds at 213.10 mph. After failing to make a full pass in either of Friday’s two qualifying sessions, she and her team stepped up in Q3.

“That’s a little nerve-wracking if you drive a Pro Stock car,” Enders-Stevens said. “You’re uncertain of track conditions, so you have to be a little conservative to make sure you get down. But my guys stepped up, as they always do, and we made a great run.”

The rest of the Pro Stock class took their best shots but were unable to get around Enders-Stevens’ No. 1 Chevrolet. When rain washed out the final session, she locked up the top spot.

“We were able to stay No. 1,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s all that matters for my Elite Motorsports team. I wish we would have gotten that last run because we wanted to try some things, but tomorrow should be a good day.”

Enders-Stevens and her team struggled to adapt to two rules changes for 2015, as NHRA mandated a new tire and new fuel, but crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones hit on a good combination during testing earlier this week.

“It was very interesting but we figured it out,” Enders-Stevens said. “We made two full hits in Phoenix, and then we were able to come here. Going into Sunday with only one run under your belt isn’t ideal, but I know if anybody can do it, we can. I’ve got the best guys in the world, and I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings.”

Enders-Stevens begins her defense of the 2014 championship against No. 16 qualifier Matt Hartford, who qualified with a pass of 6.611 seconds at 208.59 mph.

Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday.

Enders-Stevens begins defense of 2014 Pro Stock championship

2014-champ

POMONA, CA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens will begin to defend her 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock world championship this weekend at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

But not much has changed in Enders-Stevens’ mind as she and her team prepare for the Winternationals.

“I guess it really hasn’t completely sunk in because some days it’ll just cross my mind and I can’t believe it,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s pretty cool. The off-season is busy as always, no different than any other. We’re hard at work trying to find money and horsepower.”

Though she hasn’t raced since her triumphant victory in the final round of the final race of 2014, Enders-Stevens remains as focused as ever at the task at hand: Doing her job, one round at a time.

“I haven’t gotten unfocused,” Enders-Stevens said. “What we accomplished last year doesn’t change anything ever. It’s a great accomplishment and really cool, but you can go from hero to zero really quick, week in and week out. I learned that a long time ago. We’ve got our work cut out for us, and we’re going to swing for the fences just like we did last year.”

Enders-Stevens, 31, won her first world championship with a stellar season that included six victories, six No. 1 qualifiers, and national elapsed-time and speed records.

But the championship was in doubt until the final round in Pomona, where Enders-Stevens won the race and the title when Jason Line red-lit.

Now, she returns to the site of her championship brandishing the No. 1 on the side of her Chevrolet Camaro.

“We’re the defending world champions, and it’s a pretty awesome place to be,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been in this situation before, and we’re really excited and honored to carry the No. 1 this year. It’ll be a memorable year, and we’re going to go to Pomona and give it our all and hopefully carry the No. 1 into 2016 also. That’s everyone’s goal.

“We know the target is on our back, for sure, but to be honest it’s been on our back. I don’t know if anything has changed. Last year, we had a very dominant car, and when some people would race us, they’d swing for the fences both performance-wise and from the driver’s seat.

“I don’t think anything will change from our angle,” Enders-Stevens added. “We’re going to stay focused on racing our car and our lane.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Enders-Stevens crowned 2014 Pro Stock champion after NHRA Finals win

Erica Enders-Stevens hoists NHRA Championship trophy

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 16) — Taking fate into her own hands, Erica Enders-Stevens not only captured her sixth win of the season at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals but also the title of 2014 NHRA Pro Stock World Champion.

Surpassing Larry Morgan and Rodger Brogdon in the first two rounds of competition, Enders-Stevens’ Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro continued to step up round after round. But after both her and Jonathan Gray had perfect .000 lights in the semifinals, it was obvious Enders-Stevens wasn’t going down without a fight, advancing to the final round with a 6.494-second pass.

With the championship on the line during the final-round matchup against Jason Line, Enders-Stevens sealed the deal. Both drivers turned on the red bulb, implementing the “first or worst” rule, and Enders-Stevens’ -.002 reaction time beat out Line’s -.011 and secured her first season title.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Enders-Stevens said, “and that’s perfect proof that with the right group of people anything is possible and that’s all through God. I’ve got the right group, a group that stands behind me, and we have a blast together. That’s what it’s all about. Win, lose, or draw we love each other and that’s all that matters.”

Enders-Stevens beats Jason Line for 2014 Pro Stock Championship

Already with numerous accomplishments in the record books, Enders-Stevens joins Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey on an elite list of female NHRA champions.

“They are heroes of mine,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m so thankful for their help and support in this venture. It means a lot to me to have my name on a list with Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey. They’re incredible racers and incredible women.

“What a blessing; this is awesome.”

Starting the dream season with a fresh start at Elite Motorsports, Enders-Stevens always knew that they were capable of going all the way. Her win in Pomona proved that.

“I definitely grew a lot,” Enders-Stevens said. “I learned a lot, I became better, and so did our team. I have them to thank for that. It was a long, hard year. I had to sit out two races and we were still able to accomplish this dream, and it says a lot of what we’re capable of. The sky is the limit.

“We’ve got a lot of great things happening for 2015, and I just couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”

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