Posts Tagged Charlotte

Tire Shake Cuts Short Pro Stock Four-Wide Final for Enders-Stevens

Erica Enders-Stevens 4-Wide Nationals

CONCORD, NC — In her 4th straight final round appearance, Pro Stock’s Erica Enders-Stevens shook the tires and was forced to cut short her chance at back-to-back Wally trophies during the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

The current points leader and her Elite Motorsports Camaro have now appeared in three straight national event final rounds (Gainesville, Las Vegas and Charlotte), as well as the finals during Vegas’ K&N Horsepower Challenge. She won both races in Vegas, and had hoped to go “back-to-back-to-back” with a win in Charlotte. Sunday’s race was also her 3rd Four-Wide Nationals final round appearance in a row.

“Winning would have been incredible, just unreal,” said Enders-Stevens. “My guys have us on a hot streak, and even though we didn’t get the win today, we still put up great numbers, went rounds and continue to hold on to the points lead. I’m bummed we couldn’t make it happen today, but I’m thrilled at what we’re accomplishing together.”

Going into Sunday, Erica had qualified in the number two spot with a pass of 6.524 at 213.13 mph. She was just 0.001 second off the pole and posted the fastest mph of the entire weekend for the Pro Stock class.

During the first two rounds of the unique four-car configuration, where the top two cars advance, Erica reached the finish line first each time, and with the quickest ET. However in her final round, she was forced to push the clutch in and end her run early after the car shook.

“We’ve been blessed to have a consistent race car and a setup that rarely gets away from us,” noted Enders-Stevens. “It bit us this time, but better it was the final than the first round. Now we’ll look forward to getting it done in Houston in front of my hometown crowd!”

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas (outside of Houston) April 25th – 27th.

Pro Stock’s Enders-Stevens Brings Winning Momentum to Four-Wide

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CONCORD, NC — Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens arrives at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals gunning for the Wally that has narrowly escaped her grasp the past two years.

If her last race is any indication, the third time could be the charm.

Hot off a $100,000 weekend in Vegas where she doubled-up to win both the K&N Horsepower Challenge and the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, Erica and her Elite Motorsports crew are looking for their first Four-Wide win and back-to-back Wally’s.

“We’ve got a great team, and they’ve given me a great hot rod,” said Enders-Stevens. “It’s exciting to be in the points lead for the first time ever, and we’re going to carry that momentum right into this weekend.”

The Four-Wide Nationals, however, is not without its quirks.

The unique once-a-year race pits four drivers against each other during every round, creating headaches for some and heartache for others. With three other cars to race, staging troubles and red lights can plague a driver not prepared for the added pressure. It’s the only race of its kind, and as such, even veteran racers must readjust to the format each year.

“Consistency is such a huge factor in drag racing, so when you have a race that changes things up, it demands an even greater focus and situational awareness than what we’re normally used to,” said Enders-Stevens. “It tests us as drivers, and sometimes you’ll see it get the better of someone right when it matters most.”

Erica has stepped up to the challenge in past years with runner-up finishes in both 2012 and 2013.

“I was runner up last year in the K&N Challenge and the Vegas race, and we saw what happened there,” noted Enders-Stevens. “Maybe we’ll be able to start a trend and do the same here.”

Pro Stock qualifying for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway gets underway at 1:15 p.m. (ET) and 4:15 p.m. (ET) Friday and Saturday, with Sunday eliminations beginning at 11:00 p.m. ESPN2 will carry both qualifying and elimination post-race broadcasts.

Enders-Stevens takes Husky Liners to semifinals in Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 15) – Erica Enders-Stevens and her Husky Liners Pro Stock team made some gains at the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sunday at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens moved up two spots in the Pro Stock points standings to seventh with a semifinal finish in the first race of the Countdown to the Championship, and she also gained ground on several drivers still in front of her in the points.

“We’ve always got to look at the positives,” Enders-Stevens said. “At this moment we’re the underdog, and we’ve got some fighting to do to get this car up to the performance level of the rest of the pack. Being back in the car and getting seat time is only going to make it better, and I know that.”

Sunday’s performance was truly a team effort, as Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team were both on top of their game. She overpowered one opponent and then won another round on a holeshot.

“Today was a good start to the Countdown,” Enders-Stevens said. “A semifinal finish is nothing to be ashamed of. There are a lot of guys who would have traded spots with us today.”

Enders-Stevens moved within 10 points of sixth place, and is 109 points – a little more than five rounds – behind leader Mike Edwards.

“I’m glad to have made up some ground on a couple of the guys ahead of me,” Enders-Stevens said. “The good news is in three days we go to Dallas. We’ll get another shot at it and we’ll keep fighting.”

Enders-Stevens kicked off her return to full-time Pro Stock competition with a win over Rodger Brogdon. Her pass was 6.578 seconds at 210.28 mph to defeat Brogdon’s 6.626 at 208.71 mph.

That matched her up against defending Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson, and though her good friend was quicker, Enders-Stevens scored the victory. The difference was her .029-second reaction time that gave her a .031-second advantage. That was enough to overcome Johnson’s pass of 6.567 seconds at 211.16 mph, which was slightly quicker than her run of 6.586 seconds at 209.36 mph.

“That was nice,” Enders-Stevens said. “I came back and had a meeting with Dave (Connolly, her crew chief alongside Tommy Utt) and went over some things with the car. I’m always up on the wheel, but that was an important round for our team. I love Brutus (Johnson) and he’s my best friend out here, but when the helmets go on, I’m ready to rip his throat out. That’s the mindset I took, and he left the door open for us.”

She then faced No. 1 qualifier Jason Line, who led the whole race with a run of 6.579 seconds at 210.73 mph, beating Enders-Stevens’ 6.597 at 210.05 mph.

Next up for Enders-Stevens and the Husky Liners team is the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals next weekend in Dallas.

Enders-Stevens bursts back on Pro Stock scene with No. 4 qualifying effort

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CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 14) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens hasn’t shown any rust in her return to Pro Stock racing, grabbing the No. 4 qualifying spot for the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens missed six of the last eight races because her Cagnazzi Racing team was sidelined, but Husky Liners joined the team as a marketing partner for the Countdown to the Championship. Charlotte is the opening race to NHRA’s playoffs, and Enders-Stevens is right in the middle of the title hunt.

“The car’s running really well,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had a great run this morning and we were on a really good run this afternoon. That’s promising for tomorrow, especially since we’re getting off the starting line.”

Enders-Stevens, ninth in the points standings, had a top pass of 6.546 seconds at 211.83 mph in the third qualifying session. She was solid in her other runs, but the Q4 pass was aborted when her Camaro darted out of the groove.

“I’m pleased with how the car’s running,” Enders-Stevens said. “That gives me confidence going into tomorrow. The conditions will be similar to what they were today, and I think tomorrow is going to be a driver’s race. It’s a really tight field, and everybody seems to be running well. We’ll see how it goes and keep a positive attitude.

“We want to do well, not only because it’s the first race of the Countdown but for Husky Liners, too. We’re so blessed they stepped up, and we want to make them proud.”

Fans at zMax have been good to the popular driver, as crowds have gathered around her pit area all weekend to see her again.

“The fans have welcomed me back with open arms,” Enders-Stevens said. “A lot of them have said, ‘Welcome back. We’re glad you’re back.’ I haven’t stopped smiling all weekend. It’s been great.”

She wants it to continue into Sunday, when she’ll kick off eliminations against Rodger Brogdon, who qualified No. 13 with a lap of 6.594 seconds at 210.64 mph.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a tough day,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll all have to be on our game, and I’m excited about our chances.”

Eliminations begin at noon EDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 3:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday and the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. later that night.

Enders-Stevens, Husky Liners ready to race for NHRA title

CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 10) – Erica Enders-Stevens is certainly counting her blessings now that Husky Liners has given her an opportunity to return to her Cagnazzi Racing Pro Stock Camaro, but the five-time NHRA winner wants to do more than race: She wants to win the 2013 championship.

With new title sponsorship from Husky Liners, Enders-Stevens will compete in the Countdown to the Championship, which begins with this weekend’s sixth annual Carlyle Tools NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

“We’re excited and optimistic about the weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’re so blessed to have Husky Liners on the side of the car.”

Enders-Stevens missed six of 18 regular season races because of sponsorship issues but had such a strong season that she still qualified for NHRA’s playoffs. She won a race and reached the final at three others during the regular season to earn the No. 9 seed in the Countdown.

“Everyone knows we’ve got a great team and a great car and really good horsepower,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel and giving the guys a run for their money.”

Her Cagnazzi Racing team returns with Tommy Utt and Dave Connolly serving as crew chiefs. The Victor Cagnazzi-owned team is based in Mooresville, N.C., not far from zMax Dragway, though the team is still looking for its first win at its home track.

“Starting off the Countdown at our team’s home track in Charlotte is going to be important,” Enders-Stevens said. “We certainly have a lot of test runs there, and the last time through this spring we runner-upped. We’ve had a lot of success there, and we’ll see if we can finally get it done at zMax. It’s the only track left on the tour where Cagnazzi Racing hasn’t won.

“To be able to do that this weekend would be awesome, but we’re going to take it one day at a time, one run at a time, and see how it goes.”

Enders-Stevens was fourth in the Pro Stock standings before her team missed six of the last eight races. In the interim, she drove in two ADRL Pro Mod races for Keith Haney Racing to stay sharp.

“I missed out on a lot of seat time but it’s like riding a bike, and I’m hungry and going after it,” Enders-Stevens said. “I went from a few days ago thinking we were going to sit out the Countdown, to now where we’ve got a real shot to chase the championship.

“We’re the underdog. I’m in the ninth position and we’ve got our work cut out for us, but if anybody can do it, we can. My guys are awesome.”

Enders-Stevens will race for NHRA title with new sponsor Husky Liners

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WINFIELD, Kan. (Sept. 6) – One of the most popular drag racers on the NHRA tour, Erica Enders-Stevens, will run for the 2013 championship with new title sponsorship from Husky Liners.

Enders-Stevens successfully qualified for the Countdown to the Championship two races ago in Brainerd, Minn., but was facing the prospect of watching the six-race playoffs from the sidelines until team owner Victor Cagnazzi struck an eleventh-hour deal with Husky Liners founder Bob Tyler.

“This is very exciting for us,” Tyler said. “There’s not a lot of things you can do that can make an instant impact on your sales, but we know that vehicle sales are on the upswing and this is the time of year that historically we do pretty well. To have Erica and Cagnazzi Racing promoting our line of Made In America products now is just an unbelievable opportunity for us.”

Cagnazzi and Tyler got together at the recently completed U.S. Nationals in Indy when the two COPO Camaros they own met in the final of the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown with drivers Dave Connolly and Todd Patterson going head-to-head. It was the second year in a row the two drivers met in the money round.

“We got to talking about Erica and I told Victor I felt she’s someone that should be out there,” Tyler said. “She’s so good for the sport. Of course, we’re always interested in getting more exposure for Husky Liners, so after a few texts back and forth we struck this deal. I think it’s going to be great. I can’t wait to see how it goes.”

Enders-Stevens certainly has proven herself a worthy title contender. She qualified for the Countdown despite missing six of the 18 regular-season races due to funding issues, winning her fifth career title during the Phoenix stop and taking runner-up honors in Las Vegas, Charlotte, and Bristol, Tenn.

“I can’t believe how fortunate we are that Mr. Tyler and his company have signed on to support us,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s pretty crazy because I’m a Texas girl and in high school I had a 4×4 pickup truck that had floor mats and mud flaps from Husky Liners. Their stuff is awesome. I know from first-hand experience.

“The guys are super pumped. This has given us new life, for sure. I think everyone in the class knows what we’re capable of doing and at the same time we know what it takes to compete at this level. We all kind of feel like we need to make a statement, and winning some races and contending for the championship would say a lot about us. We went to the final in Charlotte last time through, and that’s the home track for Victor Cagnazzi Racing, so we hope to get off to a fast start. We’ll be ready.

“I encourage everyone that supports drag racing and my team to go to HuskyLiners.com and check out their products. And when they order something, tell them thanks for the support. Sponsors are so hard to get, and I want to make sure these guys get their money’s worth from us.”

The team will unveil their Husky Liners Chevrolet Camaro Sept. 13-15 at the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts at zMAX Dragway.

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