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Points leader Enders-Stevens Hopes to Keep ‘Dream Season’ Going in Bristol

Erica Enders-Stevens Englishtown Elite Motorsports

BRISTOL, TN — The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has been a “dream season” for Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens, and she intends to keep the dream going during this weekend’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Enders-Stevens leads the points standings by 123 points in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class with two national event victories and a win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge.

At the most recent race in Englishtown, N.J., Enders-Stevens set the national record in elapsed time (6.464 seconds) and speed (215.55 mph).

“Hopefully, we can hold it for a while,” Enders-Stevens said. “Now that it’s the summer months, I don’t think there will be mine-shaft conditions, at least not until Reading. That’s usually the next race where records are broken.

“It meant a lot to us. I know it meant a lot to my team because speed equals horsepower in Pro Stock, and it just goes to show how strong our engine program is. I know Richard Freeman, Nick Ferri, and Jake Hairston are all very proud of it, along with the rest of my team. It’s just another accomplishment in what has been a dream season so far.”

And now she heads to Bristol, one of her favorite NHRA venues.

“Bristol is probably one of my top-three favorite tracks on the tour,” Enders-Stevens said. “I really enjoy going there, and it’s an awesome facility. It’s the South, and the people are all so kind.”

Plus, Enders-Stevens has reached the final round in two of the last three Bristol races, including the 2011 event when she returned to Pro Stock full time after five years.

“That was our first final-round appearance together,” Enders-Stevens said. “Since then I’ve been to one more final there. I haven’t won Bristol, but we’ve been runner-up a couple times. I’m looking forward to going back and going one extra round.”

Enders-Stevens has been busy since Englishtown, traveling to the Chevrolet Performance shop in Detroit with team owner Freeman to take delivery of a COPO Camaro.

“We got to take a tour of the factory and see every step of the production of the COPO Camaro,” Enders-Stevens said. “They only produce 69 cars per year, so it’s very special and it’s an elite group of people who have a COPO car.

“When we got to the end of the line and pulled the car cover off our Camaro, it was an exciting moment for all of us. I had no idea until that day that I was going to be a part of that program with Richard, and he asked that my name be put on the certificate of authenticity alongside his. That was a surreal moment and really exciting for me. I don’t show excitement very much, but that was a pretty amazing moment.”

Freeman made sure Enders-Stevens got behind the wheel with a Chevrolet official, and she drove it around the block before doing some burnouts in the parking lot. The future plan is for her to drive the car at some NHRA races later this season.

After Detroit, Enders-Stevens went to the Elite shop in Oklahoma before heading home for some time before a four-week stretch of races begins with Bristol.

Four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying will feature sessions at 5 and 7:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are slated to start at 1 p.m., Sunday. Both qualifying and elimination action will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Enders-Stevens Officially the Quickest and Fastest of NHRA’s Pro Stock Class

Erica Enders-Stevens Englishtown, New Jersey

ENGLISHTOWN — One day after resetting the national speed record to a blazing-fast 215.55 mph, Pro Stock championship points leader Erica Enders-Stevens added the more valuable elapsed time record to her résumé with a stunning pass of 6.464 seconds Sunday morning at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

While both marks are coveted, the e.t. record helps in the Mello Yello standings because it is worth an additional 20 points, helping the young racer from Houston easily remain on top of the factory hot rod class despite a quarterfinal exit from the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals.

“The cruel part of drag racing is you set both ends of the national record, so you know you have the baddest hot rod on the planet, but you still have to win rounds to win races and the driver didn’t get it done today,” Enders-Stevens said. “I feel terrible for my guys for losing the race but I couldn’t be more proud of them for getting this car into the record books. No matter what, no one can take this weekend and the records we set away from us. Those marks will be beaten one day, but for now we are on top.”

Enders-Stevens used her record pass to dispatch first-round opponent Val Smeland, who encountered traction issues and aborted his run, drifting to an 8.972 at 107.66 mph. That set up a quarterfinal date with her former crew chief, Dave Connolly, who gained enough of an advantage at the starting line, .033 to .064, to hold off Enders-Stevens’ quicker 6.509 at 214.66 mph with a slower but winning 6.539 at 213.91 mph.

“I knew we had Dave covered as far as e.t. goes, but he got me on the Tree today and that was it,” Enders-Stevens said. “My guys were great and they immediately told me we win as a team and lose as a team and reminded me I’ve won a few on holeshots myself, but I still feel lousy.

“I’ll get over it. The main thing is we increased our points lead and the Elite Motorsports Camaro is the undisputed king of the hill for now and that feels great. I feel so honored to be driving this car and working with this team. I’m a happy girl inside.”

After racing three consecutive weekends, Enders-Stevens and her privately-funded race team will now have a chance to regroup before the 14th annual Ford Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals, which takes place June 13-15 in Bristol, Tenn.

National-Record Run Places Enders-Stevens 2nd on Englishtown’s Pro Stock Grid

Erica Enders-Stevens sets new speed record 215.55 mph

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — Championship points leader Erica Enders-Stevens continues to display her dominance of the Pro Stock field, this time posting a national record top speed of 215.55 mph during a 6.473-second qualifying run at the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals. Enders-Stevens’ speed mark raised her own national record by nearly 1 mph, and her elapsed time was the third-quickest in history.

The effort places her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro second on the Pro Stock ladder, just .001-second behind good friend Allen Johnson. She will now begin preparations for a first-round elimination matchup with Val Smeland, who qualified 15th with a partially shutoff 8.017 at 127.94 mph.

Enders-Stevens 215.55 mph timeslip

“I’m really excited about how awesome this car is and how well things are going for us,” Enders-Stevens said. “Raising our own national speed record is very cool because in Pro Stock speed is the best indicator of horsepower, so all glory to the guys once again for making awesome engines.

“We went out there today, in conditions we expect will be very similar to what we’ll have tomorrow, and posted two super-fast passes. What’s exciting is I know there is more in the car. We definitely have something to be pumped up about for tomorrow because I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to run even quicker.”

Enders-Stevens already has backed up her speed mark to make it an official record and her e.t. of 6.473 seconds is just two-thousandths of a second off the national e.t. record, so she already is well within range to set an official record in that category as well. By rule, national-record runs must be backed up with another run within 1 percent of the record at the same race to make it an official mark.

“The primary goal on race day is to get the car from A to B,” said Enders-Stevens, a two-time winner this season who has held the points lead for five consecutive races. “But if the opportunity to set the record is there and the guys feel confident we can go for it, we’re not afraid to try.

“This run we’re on is a great reward for the guys, especially after these last few weeks where they’ve been working around the clock to keep up with the engines, sleeping at the shop sometimes because there’s not even time to go home. I’m so blessed to have this team behind me and I’ve never had so much fun racing.”

Enders-Stevens hopes to write some new history in Englishtown

Enders-Stevens heads to Englishtown

ENGLISHTOWN — Old Bridge Township Raceway Park hasn’t exactly been kind to Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens, but she hopes to make some new history during this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Summernationals.

The venerable racetrack has been one of the highlights of the NHRA schedule for many years, and Englishtown fans are known for their love of drag racing.

Enders-Stevens has yet to score a victory in Englishtown, but husband Richie Stevens Jr. has visited victory lane during his driving career, so she’d love to follow in his footsteps.

“Englishtown has a lot of history with our sport,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s always fun to go back there. It’s been a great track to my husband; he’s won a few times there.”

Enders-Stevens has won twice in 2014 — not including the special K&N Horsepower Challenge — and leads the Pro Stock points standings after eight races. She is off to the best start of her career, thanks to a potent Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better in all eight races, including third or better in the previous seven. Plus, she has been the points leader in the Pro Stock standings for five consecutive races.

Going fast is nothing new for Enders-Stevens, and she hopes for quick runs this weekend after qualifying No. 2 and posting a semifinal finish in Topeka, Kan., earlier this week.

“Englishtown is usually pretty quick, providing the weather cooperates,” Enders-Stevens said. “We get to go back down to sea level, which is nice compared to being in Topeka, so we look forward to that. We’ll run quicker there.”

Englishtown also closes a three-week stretch of consecutive races. After this event, NHRA teams get a week off before starting a four-race stretch. Preparation is crucial to making it through this time of the year, and Enders-Stevens is confident in her Elite team.

“It’s the last race of a three-race swing,” Enders-Stevens said. “We get one week off to catch up in our engine department, and then we get four events in a row. It’ll be pretty grueling, especially in the middle of the summer, but we can handle it.”

Four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying will feature sessions at 4 and 6:15 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are slated to start at 11 a.m., Sunday. Both qualifying and elimination action will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Enders-Stevens maintains Pro Stock points with Topeka semifinal

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TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens has the big picture in mind after reaching the semifinals of the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka.

The semifinal appearance was her fifth in eight races this season to go along with two victories, and she maintained the points lead she’s held for five races in a row.

“If we average semifinals for the rest of the year, we’ll be able to hold the big trophy at the end,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s all about momentum and consistency.”

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better at all eight Pro Stock races this season, including third or better in the last seven. She was No. 2 in Topeka and knocked Deric Kramer in the first round, getting the win when Kramer red-lit.

She then took out No. 7 qualifier Vieri Gaines in round two with a .029-second reaction time and 6.653 at 206.92 mph. Gaines was .058 on the Christmas Tree and slowed to a pass of 15.614 seconds at 54.74 mph.

Then in the semifinals against good friend Allen Johnson, the two cars had identical 6.657-second elapsed times, with Enders-Stevens’ speed at 206.51 mph while Johnson went 206.32 mph. The difference was Johnson’s .022 light; Enders-Stevens was .046 on the Tree.

“We had a good car,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were right there with A.J. The ball was in my court and I missed it. It happens and we’re going to pack up and go on to Englishtown (N.J.). The great news is we have an awesome team.

“We’re going to be fine. I’m disappointed, but there are a lot of other teams that would have loved to have gone to the semi’s today.”

Enders-Stevens and her Elite team were understaffed in Topeka because co-crew chief Rickie Jones and engine maintenance man Jake Hairston were not available. Team owner Richard Freeman jumped in to help with whatever task was needed, and the Elite team performed well.

“We did pretty well with what we had, and my team performed well under pressure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were under a rushed schedule, as NHRA gave us 50-minute turnarounds. We were thrashing because we were down two guys this weekend, and everybody was pitching in to help. Everyone pulled their weight and performed really well under pressure, and I’m proud of them.”

From No. 2 for No. 100? Enders-Stevens: ‘Yes, please’

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TOPEKA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens missed her second consecutive No. 1 qualifier by a mere .006-second at this weekend’s NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.

Though Enders-Stevens would have joined fellow female drivers Brittany and Courtney Force as pole-winners in Topeka, ending up No. 2 is just fine for her

“I love it,” Enders-Stevens said. “Before last weekend in Atlanta, we had qualified No. 2 four times and we’ve done well each time. Being a racer, you’re naturally slightly superstitious. To get back to the No. 2 spot, it’s good for us. You can win from anywhere.”

The last three times Enders-Stevens has qualified No. 2, she ended up in the final round. In Houston two races ago, she qualified second and won the race. She’d love nothing more than to repeat that feat this weekend, especially since it would also be the 100th national event victory by a woman.

“No. 2 for No. 100 — yes, please,” Enders-Stevens said.

She leads the Pro Stock points standings thanks to two victories and two other final-round appearances in seven races to date.

Enders-Stevens’ best run in qualifying was 6.606 seconds at 208.68 mph (run in Saturday’s first session), though she duplicated that elapsed time in the final session with a speed of 207.98 mph. Both Saturday runs were low of the round, and they followed her Q1 e.t. of 6.611 seconds at 208.81 mph.

“We’ve got a consistent race car again,” Enders-Stevens said. “Tomorrow is going to be about going A to B and not losing sight of our goals. I hope it’ll be a long day.”

The weekend has been long for Enders-Stevens and her Elite team, as rain canceled the second session Friday and delayed Saturday’s activities.

“I’m just proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They’ve worked really hard this weekend. These rain weekends really stink because it’s hard to go from down to up, from sitting around to rushing and whatever else. They’ve done a great job.

“We had a 15-minute turnaround between today’s two runs, so we were hustling, We were down two guys this weekend, and for as much adversity as we’re facing, we’re doing well and I’m proud of my team.”

Confidence, momentum on Enders-Stevens’ side heading to Topeka

Erica Enders-Stevens Elite Motorsports Camaro NHRA Southern Nationals

TOPEKA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens carries more than the Pro Stock points lead into the NHRA Kansas Nationals this weekend at Heartland Park Topeka.

She’s bringing confidence and momentum, as Enders-Stevens’ Chevrolet Camaro was the quickest car in all six rounds she ran last weekend at Atlanta Dragway.

“I’ve got all kinds of confidence in my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They’re awesome, they’ve got my back, and they’re good people. Our group of guys is a true definition of what a team is. They pick me up when I’m down and vice versa. They work their tails off for me, and every time I get in that car I have 100 percent faith that we’re going to get down, it’s going to be safe, and we’re going to do well.

“To have a group like that is a true blessing. I love them. We’re going to continue to have a great year, and we’ve got to take these races one at a time and do our best. That’s what we’ve done all year.”

Enders-Stevens has two wins — not including her K&N Horsepower Challenge victory — and one No. 1 qualifier in seven races, and she has a 110-point lead on the Pro Stock field heading to Topeka.

Plus, she still has an opportunity to claim the 100th national event victory by a female this weekend. She scored wins No. 98 and No. 99, so getting No. 100 would be fitting.

“It would be awesome,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s a huge milestone for our sport and would certainly be an added bonus for us to get that done for all the women. It would mean a lot to us, but regardless, we’re going to do the best we can this weekend and at every race.”

Enders-Stevens has fond memories of Heartland Park, for it was there as a 22-year-old that she claimed her first No. 1 qualifier.

“That was pretty cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “I was a new driver back then, and I don’t really think I understood how awesome that was to be that new and to be on top of such a competitive class. That was a neat accomplishment.

“We’ve got the car and the team to beat right now, and we’re going to carry that into Topeka and see what happens.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 and 7 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens extends Pro Stock points lead after stellar Atlanta race

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ATLANTA — The determination of Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens has elevated her to the top level of Pro Stock and doesn’t allow her to believe clichés, so when her team members told her after she lost in the second round of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals on Sunday at Atlanta Dragway that “you can’t win them all,” she shook her head.

“Why not?” she asked.

Enders-Stevens has won two of seven Pro Stock races in 2014, adding the K&N Horsepower Challenge to that haul. She’s the points leader in the ultra-competitive class, too, and is determined to stay there.

“If there’s any good news, it’s that we get to go racing again in four days,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll go back to the shop and then head to Topeka (Kansas). We’ll be fine.”

Enders-Stevens fell in the second round to eventual race winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. despite having a better elapsed time. Her pass was the best of the round for the sixth time during the weekend, but Coughlin’s starting-line advantage gave him the close victory. Enders-Stevens’ run was 6.533 at 209.52 mph, falling to Coughlin’s 6.551 at 211.30 mph.

“Just one of those days,” she said. “I’m human and I do mess up. I knew as soon as I let the clutch out I was in trouble. I know we have big top-end smoke, and when I put in fifth gear I closed on him but not much.”

She got to the second round with a stellar first-round win over John Gaydosh. Enders-Stevens left first and pulled away to a pass of 6.526 seconds at 212.96 mph, easily beating Gaydosh’s 6.786 at 205.13 mph.

Enders-Stevens came into the race as the No. 1 qualifier, having been atop the chart in all four qualifying sessions. She then was low of the round in both runs Monday, proving Elite Motorsports has not lost a step.

Enders-Stevens and her team remain positive as Atlanta starts a stretch of three consecutive races, with the race in Heartland Park Topeka beginning Friday.

“They’re just so positive all the time,” she said. “I apologized. Nothing is worse than for it to be your fault for the loss for the team, but they’re very positive. (Team owner) Richard (Freeman) is joking around and laughing and saying, ‘Hey, you can’t win every one these.’

“Everybody’s spirits are up, and we’ll be ready to go in Topeka, no doubt.”

The advancement to the second round, coupled with her stellar qualifying effort, helped push Enders-Stevens’ points lead to 110 over second-place Jason Line.

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