Posts Tagged 4-Wide

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders-Stevens looks for better days after tough Charlotte

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens saw her streak of consecutive NHRA Four-Wide Nationals final-round appearances at zMax Dragway come to an end in the second round Sunday.

Enders-Stevens had raced for the Four-Wide Nationals title in 2012, ’13, and ’14, but tire shake in the second round ended her chances of four finals in a row.

The 2014 Pro Stock champion hasn’t had the start to this season she would have liked, as a new tire and new fuel has delivered a wicked curveball to her Elite team.

“It’s one of those deals that we’ve got to work through,” Enders-Stevens said. “If any team out here can do it, I know that it’s mine because we have perseverance and determination. My crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll have the same no-quit attitude as the rest of us.

“We’re going to stay here and test tomorrow and figure this car out. We obviously have some issues and we will fix it.”

Enders-Stevens slipped into the Four-Wide field on Saturday despite not making a full qualifying run (Friday’s two sessions were rained out), and as the No. 16 qualifier she faced No. 1 qualifier Chris McGaha, No. 8 Shane Gray, and No. 9 Buddy Perkinson.

Enders-Stevens was sharp on the Christmas Tree with a quad-best .015-second reaction time, and her pass of 6.521 seconds at 214.42 mph was enough to beat McGaha’s quicker 6.481-second run at 214.28 mph as well as Gray’s 6.525 at 213.37 and Perkinson’s 6.550 at 212.19 mph.

“It certainly wasn’t pretty but we got down,” Enders-Stevens said. “We knew we had our work cut out for us after not getting down in qualifying, but like I’ve said before, I have all the faith in the world in my guys, and we were able to get it done.”

But in the second round against McGaha, No. 4 Greg Anderson, and No. 12 Jonathan Gray, Enders-Stevens’ red Camaro shook at the hit, and she was forced to push the clutch in.

“How we do doesn’t define us,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s how we pull through these tough moments as a team. I couldn’t ask for a better group than what I’ve got, so I’m really optimistic about what’s to come. This will just make us stronger.”

Reigning champ Erica Enders-Stevens dips into ‘luck bank’ to make Charlotte field

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Drag racers generally like to save all of their luck for race day, but reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders-Stevens had to cash some in Saturday just to qualify for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.

Shortened to just two qualifying attempts due to Friday’s rain, Enders-Stevens didn’t get more than a few feet down the racetrack in either of Saturday’s two sessions. However, because only 16 cars attempted to qualify for this event, she will have the final spot on the elimination ladder, giving her Elite Motorsports team a chance to redeem themselves Sunday.

“You definitely don’t want to put yourself in this position, but if any team can get it together overnight and make a difference tomorrow, it’s this group of guys right here,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve been through it all and this is just another chapter.

“We started the year with a brand-new RJ Racecars Camaro and it’s going to be the next big thing, no doubt about it, but we just haven’t figured out how to match the car and our Elite horsepower to the new tire and fuel the NHRA is making all of us use. We did OK in the first few races but decided to switch back to the car we won the championship with last year because we just know it so much better. She does what we ask her to do every time. The thought is that our learning curve will be shorter.”

Without question, the car swap coupled with Friday’s lost rounds played a role in Enders-Stevens’ subpar performance Saturday, but it’s unlikely that anyone she’ll face Sunday will be excited about seeing her race car in the opposite lane.

In Round 1, Enders-Stevens will line up against top qualifier Chris McGaha (6.474 at 213.70 mph), Shane Gray (6.525 at 211.99 mph), and Buddy Perkinson (6.528 at 212.49 mph).

“With the four-wide deal, the top-two cars from each foursome advance, so we need to make sure we’re one of the two,” Enders-Stevens said. “Fortunately, we have a pit full of champions at Elite, so no one will panic. We’ll do what we do and hope for the best. If we get a hold of the car and the tune-up, we can run with anybody.

“Our teammate (Drew Skillman) went 6.48 and Rodger Brogdon, who leases engines from us, went 6.53 with a super-safe tune-up, so we’ll go look at both of those runs on the computer and try to get our car dialed in.”

Elimination action begins at 1 p.m., Sunday, with Pro Stock starting around 1:45 p.m. ESPN2 will carry the action.

Three-time Four-Wide finalist Enders-Stevens ready to break through

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens has accomplished a lot in her drag racing career, winning 12 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races and the 2014 Pro Stock championship, but one race that has eluded her has been the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens will get another shot to win the event this weekend in Charlotte, where she has raced to the final round for three consecutive years.

“Maybe the change in the race date will change our luck,” Enders-Stevens said of the event that has been run in April in the past. “We’ve done everything but win Charlotte, and it would be nice to get over the hump.”

Enders-Stevens is the only Pro Stock driver to reach the event’s final round in each of the last three years, a feat in itself given the difficult nature of four-wide racing. Traditional drag races are two lanes, but the Four-Wide Nationals places extra demands on a driver’s concentration and talent.

“The Four-Wide race is always interesting, for sure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We obviously don’t race anything like it all year, so it is always an adjustment when we get to Charlotte. But I have faith in my guys to give me a fast race car, and that gives me a lot of confidence going there.”

Elite Motorsports debuted a new Chevrolet Camaro for Enders-Stevens in Gainesville, Fla., and the car is still in the development stages, but with crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, as well as Mark Ingersoll and the entire Elite Motorsports crew, she is confident the car will produce long-term results.

“My guys are the best in the business, and I know that car is going to be fast,” Enders-Stevens said. “I can’t think of no better place for us to get its first win than in Charlotte. I love the fans there and the area is great, too. Plus, two of my best friends in the world — Laura Cochran and Lacee Tuttle — live there, and it’s always great to see them. We’ll do our best this weekend and hope for a great result.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. ET, Friday and Saturday, and final eliminations will start at approximately 1:45 p.m., Sunday. Qualifying will be broadcasted on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis and elimination action will be live on ESPN starting at 2 p.m. ET.