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After Dallas, Enders-Stevens’ Championship Race is Heating Up

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DALLAS (Sept. 21) — While the extreme temperatures weren’t kind to Texas native Erica Enders-Stevens Sunday, her Mach 1 Global Services Pro Stock Camaro continued to heat up the lanes in eliminations despite her early exit from the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

Even though her first-round match had Elite Motorsports power facing off, Enders-Stevens powered her Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet past Rodger Brogdon’s Camaro with a 6.574-second pass at 210.44 mph.

However, Enders-Stevens was in a race of mere inches during the second round between her and Jonathan Gray. With reaction times within thousandths, Enders-Stevens’ .030 to Gray’s .023, her red Camaro was just edged out at the finish line despite making the second-quickest pass of the round at 6.599 seconds.

“It certainly wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for,” Enders-Stevens said. “Coming into the second race of the Countdown, we really needed to go some rounds to make up for our second-round Charlotte loss that was run in Dallas. It is what it is.

“I could not be more proud of my team though. Rick and Rickie Jones, my crew chiefs, gave it their all today. They always give it their all but they really dug deep. On a tricky racetrack without lane choice, we went out there and were the second-quickest car. It would have won any other round but the round we just raced.

“I’m proud of them and their hard work, determination, and perseverance. If this team has anything, they have heart, myself included.”

While she would have loved to snag the Wally in her home state, Enders-Stevens is still within distance of regaining her spot on top of the Pro Stock points standings. As the defending winner two years in a row in St. Louis, the next stop in the Countdown to the Championship, she is in the best position possible to make that points jump happen.

“We’re going to go to St. Louis with our chins up and do our best there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll see what happens. We’ve got to race hard. There are four races left, a lot of racing left. With just a 10-point spread between each driver, anything can happen.

“We’ll go to St. Louis, do our best, and let God do the rest. I could not be more proud or optimistic.”

Enders-Stevens will look forward to her return to Gateway Motorsports Park, Sept. 26-28, where she can retain her title of defending race winner.

Enders-Stevens Goes for Texas Sweep in Dallas

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DALLAS (Sept. 20) — Texas native Erica Enders-Stevens will go for the Lone Star sweep during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Sunday at Texas Motorplex with her Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet.

Enders-Stevens won at her home track, Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, in April. She’ll chase the Texas two-step from the No. 6 qualifying spot on Sunday.

“Tomorrow is going to be the hottest, sunniest day of all,” Enders-Stevens said. “We obviously performed well in those conditions. I’m optimistic about tomorrow, and the ladder looks nice. We’ll see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens, debuting Mach 1 colors in Dallas, can’t win two races this weekend, as she dropped a second-round match on Saturday to Shane Gray in a continuation of the postponed NHRA Carolinas Nationals from zMax Dragway.

That came after making the third-quickest pass in Dallas’ first qualifying session Friday and then beating John Gaydosh in the Charlotte first round during Dallas Q2.

Enders-Stevens left first on Gaydosh and never trailed, making a pass of 6.603 seconds at 206.29 mph to Gaydosh’s 6.662-second run at 207.53 mph.

“We made a decent run but definitely had some left in it,” Enders-Stevens said of Q1. “Going up for Q2, which is the first round of eliminations from Charlotte, we had a little bit of a different mindset because it’s hard to go from qualifying to race mode in what really should be a qualifying session. We did all right.”

Enders-Stevens, the No. 1 qualifier from Charlotte, then faced Gray, the No. 8 qualifier. Gray was given lane choice based on his performance in Friday’s qualifying session, not Charlotte eliminations.

“NHRA made a rule change on the lane choice aspect of it, which was very detrimental to our team,” Enders-Stevens said. “Obviously, it was a one-lane race facility, and that was the end of that. It’s unfortunate that things were handled that way when the championship is on the line, but it is what it is.”

To make matters worse for Enders-Stevens, several single-car runs were made, all in the preferred right lane. Gray chose that lane, putting Enders-Stevens in the left lane.

“Lane choice is crucial,” Enders-Stevens said. “Friday it wasn’t; both lanes were pretty equal. Today, though, before the second round of eliminations, they ran several singles in the right lane, then drug the track and sent us out. Nobody had run in front of that person in the left lane.”

Enders-Stevens left first with a .025-second lead, but her red Camaro made an immediate right turn, and she had to push the clutch in as Gray sped to the victory.

“We lost that round, and we turned everything back around and came out for Q4 and made a decent run for the heat of the day,” Enders-Stevens said. “It was a 130-degree racetrack and really tricky out there. We definitely had some left in it on that run.”

That turned out to be her best pass of the weekend, 6.590 seconds at 210.74 mph, to move her to sixth in the qualifying order. She’ll line up against No. 11 qualifier Rodger Brogdon, whose best pass was 6.615 seconds at 209.79 mph.

“It’s going to be a toss-up tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to really monitor the weather and the track conditions and base our tune-up accordingly. We’ll be all right. I’ve got two of the best crew chiefs in the pits and the best team out here. I’m excited and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Enders-Stevens unofficially remains second in the Pro Stock standings, 59 points behind leader Jason Line after one of six races in the Countdown to the Championship.

Enders-Stevens Aims for Dallas Double

Erica Enders-Stevens is looking to double up in Dallas after Charlotte cancellation

DALLAS (Sept. 17) — The weekend at Texas Motorplex is shaping up to be an historic one for Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens.

The Texas native is debuting a new partnership with Mach 1 Global Services, which is backing her powerful Elite Motorsports Chevrolet for the remainder of the season.

Plus, Enders-Stevens is the No. 1 qualifier for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals, which will be completed this weekend before getting another shot at a Wally with the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

“Dallas should be an exciting weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “Not only is it my home state, but we’re debuting a new sponsor there, too. To top all of that off, we qualified No. 1 for the Charlotte race, and we didn’t finish first round there, so it will be a race within a race.”

Enders-Stevens has a chance to repeat her success from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from March, when she won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge before winning the NHRA national event.

“That would be cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll have to see how things go. It’s going to be totally different conditions in Dallas. The track is a narrow-groove facility, so we’ve definitely got to be on our toes there. We get one qualifying hit before we start racing, so we’ve got to have it together when we step on the property.”

Enders-Stevens had a stellar weekend in Charlotte before the race was postponed. She was quickest in each of the four qualifying sessions, earning the No. 1 spot and cutting into Jason Line’s points lead.

She’ll get one qualifying pass down Texas Motorplex on Friday before the continuation of the Charlotte race, which also counts as Q2 for Dallas. Enders-Stevens is slated to race No. 16 qualifier John Gaydosh in Charlotte’s first round.

Dallas’ Q3 and Q4 will also be Charlotte’s second round and semifinals, respectively, with the final being an additional round on Saturday.

Then there’s the Dallas race itself, an event no woman has won in Pro Stock.

“It’d be really neat to win,” Enders-Stevens said. “I make it known everywhere I go how much I love Texas, and to be back in my home state on front of friends and family is very exciting.

“I remember racing A.J. (Allen Johnson) in the final in 2012, and we had an electrical issue. My car shut off when I let the clutch out, so I didn’t even have a chance.

“But it’d be cool to win there. I really want to get that cowboy hat.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Charlotte No. 1 Qualifier Enders-Stevens will Continue Title Pursuit in Dallas

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CHARLOTTE (Sept. 14) — The Pep Boys NHRA Carolinas Nationals was postponed Sunday because of rain and deteriorating track conditions at zMax Dragway. The race will be completed during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals next weekend at Texas Motorplex.

No. 1 qualifier Erica Enders-Stevens and her Mach 1 Chevrolet will face No. 16 John Gaydosh when the Charlotte race is resumed.

Top Fuel and Funny Car classes completed their first round of eliminations Sunday, but racing was halted during round one of Pro Stock after driver Vieri Gaines crashed. Pro Stock teams returned to their pit area, and Pro Stock Motorcycle teams followed suit.

Rain later began to fall, and NHRA officials announced that racing was done for the day. The decision was later made to complete the event in Dallas. The updated Dallas schedule will be released at a later date.

Enders-Stevens Qualifies No. 1 in Charlotte as Countdown to the Championship Begins

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE (Sept. 13) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens stormed to her third No. 1 qualifier of the season with an impressive performance during the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in both sessions Saturday, capping off her qualifying dominance with a pass of 6.568 seconds at 210.37 mph to earn her ninth career No. 1 and first in Charlotte.

“Things feel better,” Enders-Stevens said. “I stated on Friday that the car was acting right again, and we seem to have our ducks a little bit more in a row than we had at Indy and Brainerd (Minn.). It couldn’t have come at a better time, being that this is the start of the Countdown (to the Championship).

“I also talked about how important it is to start off on the right foot, and the first two days have gone smoothly and I’m hopeful that will continue tomorrow.”

Enders-Stevens was quickest in each of the four qualifying sessions, earning 12 bonus points and helping cut into Jason Line’s lead.

“The points you’re awarded for running low e.t. of every qualifying session, those all add up,” Enders-Stevens said. “We acquired 12 of them this weekend, and Jason, who’s ahead of me in points, got two, so we picked up on him. That’s so, so crucial with only 24 rounds of racing left.”

After the points were reset following the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Line carried a 30-point lead on Enders-Stevens and the rest of the Pro Stock top 10, but Enders-Stevens has already cut that by a third, getting within a round of the lead. Twenty points are awarded for every round-win in NHRA competition.

Enders-Stevens begins pursuit of her fifth victory of the season with a first-round race against John Gaydosh, who was the No. 16 qualifier with a top pass of 6.697 seconds at 206.39 mph.

“Hat’s off to my team, my crew chiefs, and all the guys who worked their tails off to give me a great, consistent race car,” Enders-Stevens said. “That track was pretty tricky this afternoon, being as hot as it was, and they nailed the tune-up. I’m really excited going into Sunday.”

Pro Stock’s Enders-Stevens Earns Provisional No. 1 Spot after Friday Qualifying in Charlotte

Erica Enders-Stevens is provisionally qualified number 1 after Friday's rounds at zMAX Dragway

CHARLOTTE, NC (Sept. 12) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens doesn’t believe in any No. 1 qualifying jinx.

The provisional No. 1 for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, Enders-Stevens is the only driver in 2014 to win from the No. 1 qualifying spot, so she relishes the chance to get her first pole position in Charlotte.

“It’s only Friday, but it’s really cool to be on top,” Enders-Stevens said. “Those baby points these last six races are going to matter now more than ever. As many as we can rack up will be great. It’s a good start to what’s hopefully a wonderful weekend.”

Enders-Stevens, who won from the No. 1 spot in Norwalk, Ohio, in July, was quickest in both qualifying sessions, earning three bonus points for each. Points leader Jason Line garnered one bonus point Friday, so Enders-Stevens sliced his unofficial lead to 25 points in the battle for the championship.

The Countdown to the Championship begins this weekend, and Enders-Stevens sits second in the Pro Stock standings.

“Baby points, the points you’re awarded for being low for each qualifying session, are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were able to acquire six of those today, so we gained five on Jason.

“It’s a really good start. I’m proud of my team. We struggled the last couple races, in Brainerd (Minn.) and Indianapolis, and at our test session in St. Louis. It’s very refreshing to see Old Red is back to herself.”

Her Chevrolet Camaro made a top pass of 6.591 seconds at 210.11 mph that puts her atop the Pro Stock field.

“We’ve tried hard not to change our mindset at all,” Enders-Stevens said. “We just need to focus on the task at hand — and that’s one round at a time, day by day — and not get too focused on the big picture at the end of the season. We’ve just got to do our job, day in and day out, and make every little point count.

“We had a team meeting this morning where we discussed our goals for the Countdown. It’s the small steps on the way to the big goal.”

Champion Chase on Enders-Stevens’ Mind as Countdown Begins

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CHARLOTTE (Sept. 10) — Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens has had her best season as a professional in 2014, but she’s far from being satisfied.

As the Countdown to the Championship begins with the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals this weekend at zMax Dragway, Enders-Stevens has her sights set on the Pro Stock championship with her red Chevrolet Camaro.

“I’m stoked,” Enders-Stevens said. “We made big strides in the right direction at Indy, and we’ve got ‘Ol Red back. She’s acting right again, and that’s encouraging heading into the Countdown and starting this four-race swing.”

Charlotte not only kicks off the Countdown, it’s the start of a string of races on four consecutive weekends. A stumble in the first race of the playoffs could be detrimental to any title contender’s hopes.

“We’ve got to start out on the right foot,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to have all our ducks in a row as soon as we walk in the gate. We’ve got to stay ahead of the game. It’s very important to start out on the right foot.”

Enders-Stevens has performed well in Charlotte, reaching the final round of the Four-Wide Nationals three years in a row, narrowly missing out on victory.

“We’ve done really well in Charlotte in the past,” Enders-Stevens said. “We love Charlotte. I lived there for a while. It’s a familiar place, and we’ve done a lot of testing at the facility. Bruton Smith has done a fantastic job and it’s a state-of-the-art racetrack.”

Enders-Stevens has won four times this season and led the Pro Stock standings 13 weeks in a row. She’s currently in second place, and after the points were reset following Indianapolis, she’s 30 markers out of the lead.

“There are only 24 rounds of racing left,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to do our job. At this point, I rely a lot on my faith. I know there’s a bigger plan, and we’re not going to get stressed out. We’re going to continue to have fun and do the best we can do and see what happens.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:45 and 3 p.m., Friday, and 1 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Richie Stevens, Enders-Stevens Present $40K to Serving Orphans Worldwide

NHRA stars Richie Stevens and Erica Enders-Stevens Present Donation to Serving Orphans Worldwide

BRISTOL, TN — Serving Orphans Worldwide (SOW), which supports orphanages and children’s homes across the globe, accepted a $40,000 donation on behalf of Stevens-Enders Motorsports at the completion of the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.

NHRA Pro Stock drivers Richie Stevens and wife Erica Enders-Stevens helped raise awareness of the non-profit organization with branding on their race cars and on-air promotion during the ESPN2 television coverage. Backed by anonymous donors who came forward during the race weekend, drag racing’s latest power couple presented Serving Orphans Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Richard Baker with the donation in the Stevens-Enders Motorsports pit.

“That’s just amazing,” Baker said. “I’m trying to fight the tears back. That’s enough money to fund an orphanage for an entire year.”

Serving Orphans Worldwide was founded in 2010 to help “rescue” orphanages that need help and funding to continue to operate.

“Richie and I are proud to be associated with such an incredible organization that helps so many children around the world,” Enders-Stevens said. “The fact we were able to raise $40,000 to help some children warms our hearts and shows how caring people are out here in the NHRA community.”

As part of the donation, Stevens and Enders-Stevens plan to travel to Thailand after the NHRA season to select the first orphanage they will officially “adopt.”

“We only get involved with orphanages that are in rescue mode and we elevate them,” Baker said. “We’ve got three stages: Rescue, Train, Sustain. We understand that orphanages will probably never be 100 percent sustainable and that they are not the ideal solution to the orphan crisis, but we’re meeting kids where they are and helping them get the love and care they deserve.”

With the help of Serving Orphans Worldwide, several orphanages have already begun income-generating or farming projects to help sustain themselves. Serving Orphans Worldwide is involved with orphanages in 25 countries on five continents, most in third-world countries that lack the government and private sector safety nets that are present in the United States.

“There’s a great need out there,” Baker said. “We’re just scratching the surface, but we are making a difference.”

SOW became involved in NHRA through Stevens’ long relationship with businessman Tom Pierson, a supporter of Serving Orphans Worldwide and sponsor of Steven’s Camaro.

“We’re excited about the partnership with Richie and Erica,” Baker said, “and amazed and humbled by their willingness to give.”

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