Posts Tagged Bristol

Just days removed from Epping victory, Erica Enders takes dead aim at Bristol crown

Erica Enders | NHRA Thunder Valley Bristol 2017

BRISTOL, TN — Two-time drag racing world champion Erica Enders celebrated her 22nd national event win less than two weeks ago in Epping, N.H., and the sport’s most prolific female Pro Stock driver is geared up to repeat the feat after qualifying a lofty third in the field of the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Enders coaxed a very competitive 6.704-second quarter-mile pass at 205.66 mph out of her car in the cooler Friday evening qualifying session to lock up her third-best starting spot of the year. The only time she’s qualified better in 2017 was when she earned the No. 2 spot in Charlotte and Epping.

“The whole Elite Motorsports team is looking great this weekend, and really has been for the last several events,” Enders said. “I’m No. 3, my teammate Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) is on the pole, my other teammate Vincent (Nobile) is No. 6, and Alex (Laughlin, fourth team member) is No. 8 so we have half of the top-side of the field. I’d say that’s pretty darn good.

“My new favorite saying is that ‘I’d put my money on us every time,’ and I sure feel that way right now. We’ll see what tomorrow brings and certainly no one is going to give us anything, but I like our chances.”

As the No. 3 qualifier in 13-car field, the modified elimination ladder will have Enders racing Alan Prusiensky in the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations. Prusiensky qualified 12th on the grid with a best pass of 6.786 at 202.79 mph. Enders, who is 2-0 against Prusiensky this year, will have the advantage of lane choice.

“Our Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro has been running across the top of the timing sheets just about every round here,” Enders said. “We also have the ability to look at Jeg’s, Vincent’s and Alex’s runs as well so I’m sure Rick (Jones, crew chief) will cook up something competitive for tomorrow.

“We’re a true team. It’s the way our team owner Richard Freeman said it would be and he always does what he says. I always want to win but I’m also pulling for my teammates. If one of us goes out early, the crew guys all go and help the other teams so we can give it our best effort every time.

“I won Epping two weeks ago and I was runner-up in Atlanta. Vincent was runner-up last weekend in Englishtown. Jeg was runner-up in Houston and Topeka. I’d say we’ve had a really strong first half of the year and it’s only going to get better.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air all the action at 6:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

“I’ve won two Father’s Day races for my dad (in 2014 and 2015) and it would be great to give him another Wally this time through,” Enders said. “I’ll certainly do all I can.”

Erica Enders eager to go racing at her all-time favorite track — Bristol Dragway

Erica Enders | NHRA Thunder Valley 2017 Preview

BRISTOL, TN – Like with most things in life, people have favorites. Some may have a favorite pizza joint, while others may have a favorite golf course they like to play. Most times these favorite places are special to a person for a reason unique to them.

Bristol Dragway is one of those favorite places for two-time world champion NHRA Pro Stock driver Erica Enders. This weekend as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competes in the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Enders will be at her favorite race track with high hopes of even more success at the picturesque quarter-mile.

In her back-to-back championship years of 2014 and 2015, the feisty 33-year-old driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro took home Wallys from the Thunder Valley Nationals. That stat in itself is enough to make a track near and dear to her heart, but she also has two runner-up finishes (2013 and 2011) and a No. 1 qualifying effort in 2015 at Bristol Dragway.

“Bristol is my favorite track on tour and I’m not saying that because we are going there this weekend, it just is,” Enders said. “I’ve had a lot of success there in the past and we are looking to carry our momentum from our win in Epping on through to Bristol and just do the best we can.”

Two weekends ago in Epping, N.H., the Houston native, broke through for her first win since the 2015 fall race in Las Vegas. Even though she and her team struggled to continue their ascension back to the top of the Pro Stock elite last weekend in Englishtown, N.J., the New Orleans resident sees their setback only as an anomaly.

“We continue to feel like we’re on the rise,” Enders said. “Throw E-town out the window because that track was in really bad shape. The starting line was completely bald and it was freshly ground when we showed up with the worst grind job we’ve ever seen. If you look at the Pro Stock field collectively, from 1-10 was one hundredth of a second apart so the starting line was a huge equalizer. You couldn’t be aggressive at all down low, you just had to kinda baby it through low gear to get it to go down the race track. Like I said, I don’t think our performance this past weekend is indicative of what we are capable of at all.”

It’s said of the atmospheric conditions in East Tennessee, “Don’t like the weather now, just wait five minutes.” With a moving target as far as the weather goes, Enders knows getting the right tune-up in her Elite Motorsports Camaro will be a thorny proposition.

“You know it will probably be hot and tricky there,” Enders said. “Bristol also has a few bumpy spots so it will definitely be a survival-of-the-fittest type weekend. It’s okay because like I always say, I’ll put my money on us every time.”

The Pro Stock racers hit the track Friday with two qualifying sessions at 5 and 7:30 p.m. They return for two more qualifying sessions Saturday at 1 and 3:30 p.m. First round of eliminations began Sunday at 1 p.m. NHRA TV coverage on Fox FS1 includes original Bristol programming on Friday at 8 p.m., on Saturday at 11 p.m., and on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (Times are local and subject to change.)

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders encouraged by progress in Bristol

Erica Enders | NHRA Bristol 2016

BRISTOL, TN — The win light didn’t come on in the lane for Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge driver Erica Enders, but a smile soon came over her face.

As the two-time Pro Stock champion slowed her Dodge Dart in the first round of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Sunday at Bristol Dragway, crew chief Rick Jones relayed her the numbers: 6.716 seconds at 206.32 mph.

They weren’t record-setting, but they were encouraging.

“As I went through the lights and my crew chief called out the numbers over the radio, I radio’d back and said, ‘We went a .71?’ ” Enders said. “He was like, ‘Yeah!’

That was her best pass of the weekend as Jones and the team continue to tune on the new Dodge. It nearly pulled off an upset of Elite teammate Vincent Nobile, whose Chevrolet qualified No. 5. Enders was off first with a .027-second reaction time, but Nobile’s 6.688 at 207.75 mph ran her down.

Nobile’s improvement, as well as the steady progress of Dodge teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., who raced to the semifinals in Bristol, has injected some much-needed confidence in Enders’ team.

“They’ve been working so incredibly hard trying to figure this Dodge out,” Enders said. “I’ve said before that we’re making strides in the right direction, but that run boosted the morale over there. Jeg being able to get to the semifinals is pretty exciting for us.

“We’ll pack up, go to Norwalk, and see if we can continue to run better and close the gap on those KB guys.”

Enders, who saw her two-race Bristol winning streak come to an end, races in Norwalk, Ohio, next weekend as her team continues to inch toward the front.

“I’m especially excited, even if it’s just seeing a trickle of light at the end of the tunnel,” Enders said. “We’ll continue to chip away at it. It only matters when we get to Indy.”

Dad’s message continues to push Pro Stock champion Erica Enders

Erica Enders | NHRA Bristol 2016
BRISTOL, TN — On this Father’s Day weekend, the words of two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders’ dad have even more meaning to the defending Bristol Dragway winner.

Gregg Enders preached positivity to Erica as she moved up the ranks of NHRA drag racing, and she’ll remember those as she races her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge in the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Sunday at Bristol Dragway.

“His message is always the same,” Enders said. “He’s where I get the quote that I use all the time: ‘Do your best and let God do the rest.’ You can only control so much. I’m a firm believer in, ‘I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.’ It’s on the back glass of my race car and is a big part of my motivation.

“But when you go up there, it doesn’t matter how far behind you are or what you have or haven’t accomplished in the past. It’s all about that moment with my car, my lane, and my guys. It’s up to us, and right now we’re at a disadvantage, but that doesn’t stop me from having a positive mental attitude and believing with all my heart that we’re going to be successful.”

Enders has struggled to repeat her success of 2014-15, when she won 15 races and the Pro Stock championship each year. Her best pass of 6.746 seconds at 205.10 mph puts her in the No. 10 spot, and she’ll race Elite Motorsports teammate Vincent Nobile in the first round Sunday.

Nobile qualified No. 5 — the 14-car field makes for unusual first-round matchups — with a top lap of 6.700 seconds at 205.85 mph.

Enders is coming into Sunday on a two-race winning streak in Bristol. Plus, she went to the final round in 2013 and 2011.

“Bristol is my absolutely most favorite racetrack in the country,” Enders said. “Not because of our recent success here, but because of the part of the country that it’s in. When you’re all strapped in your Pro Stock car and you’re fixing to do your burnout, you look down the racetrack and it’s amazing. There’s not another race facility that we go to that’s like Bristol.

“I really enjoy coming here. We’ve had a lot of success here the last four years with two wins and two runner-up finishes. To do that for my dad on Father’s Day the last couple of years was certainly a lot of fun.”

Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air eliminations from 4 to 7 p.m.

Elite/Mopar champion Erica Enders looking for three Father’s Day wins in a row

ee-tn16-pre

BRISTOL, TN– With two world championships, 21 national event wins, and a 221-137 race-day record, 32-year-old Erica Enders already has experienced many high points in her drag racing career, but perhaps the two moments she takes the most pride in happened the last two years at Bristol Dragway when she won back-to-back NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals titles on Father’s Day.

“Going all the way back to the beginning, my dad (Gregg Enders) always has been there for me,” Enders said. “He used to race himself and that’s what got me started. He sacrificed everything to make my dreams come true, and although I’ll never be able to fully thank him for what he’s done, winning the last two years on Father’s Day and dedicating those Wallys to him was a very cool feeling.

“Those two wins have made Bristol one of my favorite tracks of all time. I already loved the place because it’s a Bruton (Smith) track and it’s really, really nice. Then you throw in the way the fans treat us there and the beautiful scenery, it’s so easy to love that place.”

While it’s fun to reminisce on the past and conjure up the images of good times with her father, Enders can’t help but look at this year’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals as a place she’d love to finally get her Elite Performance/Mopar Dodge Dart on a winning course.

“It’s no secret we’re struggling a bit,” Enders said. “But as I’ve said many times, we have an awesome team of professionals over here and no one is complaining about all the extra work that has been put in this year trying to get our two Dodges up to speed.

“We see encouraging signs in testing, at the shop on the dyno, and even from our teammates Jeg (Coughlin) and Vincent (Nobile), so we know we’re getting closer. We just need to keep our heads down and work.”

As a driver, Enders has been doubling down on her efforts in the cockpit.

“I have a few things I do mechanically with the car, but I know the biggest impact I can make is behind the wheel,” she said. “I’ve worked extremely hard on my mental focus and keeping the exact routine every time. I want to do all that I can to help, and if that means I need to cut double-O lights at the Tree, then that’s what I strive to do.

“We won a lot of races and two championships as a team and we’ll get through this as a team. That’s what my dad taught me. There’s no quit in this pit.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1 and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying action from 2 to 4 p.m. ET, Saturday, and eliminations from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday.

Cool under pressure: Erica Enders, Elite Motorsports go back to back in Bristol

ee-bristol15-win

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.”

Erica Enders, Elite Motorsports step up to qualify no. 1 at Bristol Dragway

Erica Enders qualifies number 1 at Bristol | 2015

BRISTOL, TN — The pressure was on in the final Pro Stock qualifying session for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Saturday at Bristol Dragway, and Erica Enders and the Elite Motorsports team came through in a big way.

Conditions were ripe for a terrific pass in the rain-delayed final session, and Enders stepped up with a 6.632 at 207.59 mph to snare her first career No. 1 qualifier in Bristol and earn a sleeve of green hats given to the top qualifier.

“I’m really excited to be on the pole,” Enders said. “My guys look forward to green hats, so we’ve got to thank Mello Yello for starting that tradition. It’s been pretty exciting for our entire team.”

Enders was sitting in the No. 4 spot heading into the final session, which started about 8:30 p.m. Eastern, long after its regularly scheduled time. The track had cooled, and Pro Stock’s best took a swing at low elapsed time, and it was Enders who came through.

“It definitely was a long day,” Enders said. “I think we came to the staging lanes five or six times, and I got suited up and buckled in twice and did a burnout once before going back to the trailer (without making a run), so it was definitely a long day.

“We went up there for Q4, and we knew the air got better and the racetrack was in the best condition it’s been all weekend, so we went after a little bit. My crew chiefs (Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll) did an excellent job.”

The No. 1 was her fourth of the season and 16th of her career. She was also No. 1 earlier this year in Pomona, Calif.; Phoenix; and Topeka, Kan. She reached the final round at all three of those events, winning in Topeka.

She has also been hot in Bristol, reaching the final round in three of the last four races and winning in 2014.

Enders was chasing Greg Anderson in Bristol after Anderson claimed the provisional No. 1 with a pass of 6.646 seconds at 206.67 mph.

“We wanted to go out there and put up a big number, but Greg has had a really good race car for the last four or five races,” Enders said. “He and that entire Summit team are going to be tough all year.

“But I’m really proud of my guys. I knew when I unclutched the car that it was going to be a good pass, but I didn’t know it was that good until my crew chief radioed me. It felt pretty nice, but we were still conservative down low, so there’s definitely more on the table.”

Racing on Father’s Day holds special memories for Pro Stock champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders-Stevens in Bristol winner's circle

BRISTOL, TN — Father’s Day is a special time for dads and their kids, a time for children to honor their fathers for all the sacrifices made.

While racing at this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders will certainly thank her dad, Gregg Enders, for everything he did to further her career in drag racing.

“My dad means the world to me,” Enders said. “He’s been a huge support in my racing career, and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without him. We will do our best to bring him home another Wally this year on Father’s Day.”

Erica went to her dad, a racer himself, when she was 8 years old, asking to drive in the new Jr. Dragster class. Gregg agreed and began a long journey as mentor, crew chief, and supporter.

“He gave up a lot for (sister) Courtney and I to be able to race,” Enders said. “From the Jr. Dragster days to Super Comp and Super Gas to funding a Pro Stock team on his own, he provided all the stepping-stones to get me where I am today.

“Now, I’m with a team that takes great care of me and we have a blast together. Every challenging moment was worth it to get where I am now at Elite Motorsports.”

Enders won the 2014 Pro Stock world championship, with Gregg and Courtney arm in arm behind her at Auto Club Raceway last November.

Enders remains a leading contender to repeat as champion, as she’s second in the points standings with three wins in four final-round appearances and three No. 1 qualifiers in nine races to date. She heads to Bristol as the event’s defending champion.

“I’m excited to go back,” Enders said. “So far this year, we’ve won at the same tracks we won at last year, so hopefully that trend continues at Thunder Valley. I’ve never been shy to say that Bristol’s one of my favorite tracks on the tour, and the fact that it’s been good to us in the past makes it even more fun to go back.”

Enders has been to the Bristol final round in three of the last four races (2011, 2013, 2014), reaching the semifinals in 2012.

“It’s an awesome part of the country,” Enders said. “The fans are kind to us, and the facility is beautiful. Plus, Bruton Smith and his staff treat the competitors well.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions will be held at 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET, Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 8 to 10 p.m., Saturday, and the elimination rounds from 3 to 6 p.m., Sunday.

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