Posts Tagged Countdown

Enders-Stevens’ Husky Liners team takes Pro Stock title battle to Vegas

erica-reading

READING, Pa. (Oct. 6) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens remains in contention for the Pro Stock championship despite a second-round loss during the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Maple Grove Raceway.

Enders-Stevens is fifth in the Pro Stock standings, 114 points out of the lead with two races remaining in the Countdown to the Championship. The next race is in two weeks in Las Vegas.

“We’ll just go to Vegas with a clean head and do the best we can,” Enders-Stevens said. “The good news is we have a couple weeks off. We’ve been on the road for a month straight, but now we get to go home and regroup. We’ll work on the car and head to Vegas fresh. I’m looking forward to it, and we’ve got to battle back.”

Enders Stevens and the Cagnazzi Racing team have rallied in the six-race Countdown. She won at Gateway Motorsports Park last week and has climbed from ninth to fifth in the points standings. That came after sitting out six of the eight races before the Countdown, but Enders-Stevens’ Chevrolet Camaro clearly has been one of the cars to beat since returning.

On Sunday she took out Buddy Perkinson in the first round on a holeshot before falling to Allen Johnson. Perkinson ran a faster elapsed time, 6.603 seconds at 210.18 mph to Enders-Stevens’ 6.605 at 208.62 mph, but she pulled off a lightning-quick .008-second reaction time to get the victory.

“I knew I had to be up on the wheel against Buddy,” Enders-Stevens said. “I was happy to get those 20 points.”

Johnson, the defending Pro Stock champion, made a run of 6.588 seconds at 209.43 mph in the second round to outrun her pass of 6.595 at 209.59 mph

“It was going to be a day of thousandths all day long,” Enders-Stevens said. “You have to be killer on the (Christmas) Tree and you have to make really good runs. My guys gave me a great car, and we made one of our best runs of the weekend second round.”

Enders-Stevens and her team get a two-week break before the NHRA Toyota Nationals on Oct. 25-27 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Reading victory would be icing on Enders-Stevens’ birthday cake

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 5) – Husky Liners Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens celebrates her 30th birthday on Tuesday, and she’d love to have a Wally trophy from the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway next to her birthday cake.

Enders-Stevens won last weekend’s race at Gateway Motorsports Park, helping celebrate the birthdays of husband Richie Stevens and father Gregg Enders. She’d like a Maple Grove trophy for herself and her Cagnazzi Racing team.

“I got Richie and my dad a Wally for their birthdays,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’d like to get one for myself.”

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 7 with a best pass of 6.587 seconds at 209.98 mph, and her Husky Liners Camaro has been consistent.

Her runs were all within .034-second of each other, and she was in the top five in three of the four qualifying sessions.

Enders-Stevens could use a deep run at Maple Grove to continue her march up the Pro Stock points standings. She started the Countdown to the Championship in ninth place but her victory last weekend vaulted her to ninth.

Maple Grove marks the fourth event of the six-race Countdown, and she entered race weekend 60 points out of the lead.

“Tomorrow’s really important,” Enders-Stevens said. “There was some shuffling going on in that (final) round (of qualifying), and it changed the ladder a bit. We’ve definitely got our work cut out for us, but we’ve got a consistent race car and I’m driving well. I’ll put my faith on the big man upstairs and see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens faces No. 10 qualifier Buddy Perkinson in round one Sunday. Perkinson garnered that spot with a pass of 6.591 seconds at 210.21 mph.

A fun twist to Enders-Stevens’ weekend was lining up against her husband Richie Stevens in Q3. Husband and wife had never faced each other in Pro Stock, and Enders-Stevens got the better of her husband on the Christmas Tree.

Enders-Stevens left with a .005-second reaction time to his .074 light, and they ran identical elapsed times, 6.587. Stevens’ speed was better, giving him the higher qualifying spot, but Enders-Stevens was bragging about the win light.

“That was pretty cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “Apparently no husband and wife had ever run each other in Pro Stock, so that was a lot of fun. Our crews both had some side bets going. He outran us because of mile an hour, so he got ahead of us on the qualifying sheet, but I cracked him on the starting line and we got the win light. I guess that’s all that matters, but it was fun and I’m glad he’s out here running.”

Eliminations at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals get under way at 11 a.m. EDT on Sunday from Maple Grove Raceway. ESPN2 will broadcast the racing on Sunday night starting at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

Enders-Stevens confident her team can contend for Pro Stock title

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 3) – After winning at Gateway Motorsports Park last weekend, Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens said the Pro Stock field would have to take the championship away from her and her Cagnazzi Racing team.

Enders-Stevens moved up to fourth in the Countdown to the Championship standings with the victory – her second of the season – as she clearly has the title in her sights heading into the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.

“That’s the attitude we need to have,” Enders-Stevens said. “If we don’t have that attitude, then we shouldn’t be out there. You have to believe in what you’re doing.”

Enders-Stevens has blossomed in the six-race Countdown, rising from ninth place in the points with a victory, a semifinal appearance, and a No. 1 qualifier in the first three races.

She is 60 points out of first place, a deficit that can be made up in one race because 20 points are awarded for each round victory. But there are also qualifying points given for the three quickest drivers in each of four qualifying sessions, making every pass vital.

“Every round is important, but qualifying is also important,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were able to gain five baby points from qualifying last weekend, and all of those little points add up. It’s not just round by round.”

Enders-Stevens knows continuing to move forward in the points standings won’t be easy, given the stiff competition in the Pro Stock class.

“Reading is going to be tough,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are 10 great cars out here in Pro Stock week in and week out, and you just fight for those few top spots.”

Maple Grove is one of the fastest tracks on the NHRA tour, even with warmer-than-usual weather predicted for this weekend.

“The lanes are pretty even in Reading, so lane choice isn’t an issue,” Enders-Stevens said. “It should be interesting. Weather looks great as far as temperatures go. It’s going to be really fast.”

Qualifying for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals gets under way at 1:15 p.m. EDT from Maple Grove Raceway and resumes at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday. Eliminations start at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN News will air the qualifying show at 11:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday and ESPN2 will broadcast the eliminations show at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

VIDEO: Erica Defends her Title in St. Louis

Enders-Stevens wins St. Louis, powers into title contention

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 29) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens added another chapter to her memory book Sunday, winning the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in spectacular fashion with a holeshot victory over Pro Stock points leader Mike Edwards.

“I love St. Louis,” said Enders-Stevens, who also won this race last year. “I’m glad to be back. It’s a good place for me.”

Enders-Stevens has raced at Gateway since 2001 but never won here as an amateur. But in 2012, Enders-Stevens finally broke through, beating eventual series champion Allen Johnson on a holeshot to secure her fourth victory of the season.

“This is the place where I signed my deal with Victor Cagnazzi in 2004 to start driving for him,” Enders-Stevens said. “Then we won last year. This track holds a lot of fond memories for me. Now here we are back in the winner’s circle. I love coming here, the fans are great and the facility is awesome.”

Enders-Stevens left on Edwards with a .021-second reaction time, and her pass of 6.540 seconds at 211.23 mph was enough to hold off Edwards’ charging 6.532-second run at 212.36 mph.

Sunday’s victory was her second of the season and sixth of her career, tying her with husband Richie Stevens. She’s also tied with Karen Stoffer and trails only Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney as the female with the most NHRA victories.

Plus, Enders-Stevens moved up two spots to fourth in the Pro Stock standings, now trailing Edwards by just 60 points with three races remaining in the Countdown to the Championship.

“The championship would have been out of reach had we exited first or second round here,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have to perform well, and we can’t make any mistakes. There are three races left, and that’s 12 rounds of racing. We’re three rounds out of first, and we’ve got to beat these heavy hitters.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world in my guys, and that’s our mentality. This is our championship, and they’re going to have to take it from us. That’s the attitude we have to have. We have to remain positive and optimistic. I’m excited about it.”

Enders-Stevens, crew chiefs Dave Connolly and Tommy Utt and her Cagnazzi Racing team returned to the Pro Stock wars thanks to a partnership with Husky Liners. Company President/Founder Bob Tyler spoke with Enders-Stevens by phone not long after she celebrated in victory lane.

“I just talked to Mr. Tyler and he’s really pleased with what we’re doing,” Enders-Stevens said. “I couldn’t thank him enough. It was four days before Charlotte, the first race of the Countdown, and I thought we were going to be sitting at home watching these guys compete for the championship. That changed really quickly when Husky Liners jumped on with us, and now here we are.”

And she has no intention of slowing down.

“My guys have been really great,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have team meetings and strategize our race-day plans. We got together and agreed that we’re going to have fun. You never know when it’s your last race, and we came back swinging.”

Enders-Stevens started her day by beating Deric Kramer in the first round, as the race was over when Kramer left -.007 seconds too soon. Enders-Stevens’ pass of 6.544 seconds at 211.16 mph was quick enough to secure lane choice against Shane Gray in the second round.

There, she made a pass of 6.556 seconds at 211.06 mph to beat Gray, who slowed to a run of 28.128 seconds at 24.81 mph.

In the semifinals, Enders-Stevens got down the track with a 6.555-second pass at 210.87 mph, beating a sliding Rickie Jones, who went 14.094 seconds at 60.23 mph.

Then came Edwards, who had taken over the points lead by reaching the final. But Enders-Stevens has her eye on the points lead, too.

“We’ve got three races left, and we’re going to do our best and let God do the rest,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens focused on a repeat victory in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 28) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens hopes history repeats itself at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Last year Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team left with the Wally after winning here for what was their fourth victory of the season. She qualified No. 4 last year, and she’s in the same position in 2013.

“We’re right there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We got five baby points in qualifying, we’re certainly consistent, and my guys are doing a great job. I’m excited about what tomorrow holds.

“We’ve got a title to defend and a great car to do it with. We’ll see how eliminations go.”

Enders-Stevens earned the No. 4 spot with a pass of 6.528 seconds at 211.26 mph, run in Friday’s second qualifying session, when weather and track conditions were at their best. But she also made three other passes within .048-second of her best run, indicating she has a consistent Husky Liners Camaro. That bodes well for Sunday, when consistency is key.

“Consistency is always crucial on race day,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m very pleased with our performance, and I’m confident about tomorrow. I’ve been driving well this weekend, and I’m really hopefully of bringing home another Wally from St. Louis.”

Enders-Stevens lines up against Deric Kramer in the first round Sunday. Kramer qualified No. 13 with a lap of 6.603 seconds at 209.30 mph, but Enders-Stevens and her team won’t take him lightly.

“He’s got good power,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are never any easy ones in Pro Stock. We’ve got to make another good, consistent run, and one good enough to get lane choice for the next round, providing we win first round.”

Enders-Stevens earned enough bonus points in qualifying to break out of a tie for sixth place in the standings. Gateway marks the third event of the six-race Countdown to the Championship, and Enders-Stevens finds herself 110 points out of the lead.

In addition to the points battle, she’s thinking about her husband Richie Stevens and her dad Gregg Enders, both of whom celebrated birthdays on Friday.

“It would be an added bonus to bring a Wally home for my dad and Richie’s birthday weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “There’s no better birthday present for them than a Wally.”

Eliminations at Gateway Motorsports Park get under way at 11 a.m. CDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Defending champ Enders-Stevens looks for strong St. Louis showing

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 24) – Husky Liners Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens will have a wider smile than usual this weekend because she’ll enter the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park as the defending event champion.

Enders-Stevens beat Shane Gray, Cagnazzi Racing teammate Dave Connolly, Jason Line, and Allen Johnson en route to her fourth victory of the season in 2012.

“I’m excited to go back to St. Louis,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s always been one of my favorite tracks to go to, even before I started racing Pro Stock. I have a lot of great memories there, and the best one was last year when we won our fourth race of the season. That was just a really exciting day.”

NHRA returned to Gateway after a brief absence while the track changed ownership, and Enders-Stevens took full advantage. The final-round victory over good friend Johnson was special, too.

“We won the final against Allen on a holeshot,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s crazy how I remember this stuff. We’re the defending champions there, so we go in with a lot of confidence and a positive attitude. I’m excited to go back.”

Enders-Stevens sits sixth in the standings after two of six Countdown to the Championship races. Though she knows there is plenty of time to make up the 118-point deficit to points leader Line, she also knows time can’t be wasted if she hopes to win the Pro Stock championship.

“It’s still within reach,” Enders-Stevens said. “We need to go rounds because the Countdown is almost half over.”

Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team’s assault on the Pro Stock standings begins with qualifying, where points are up for grabs in each of the four sessions. Three bonus points are awarded to the quickest car in each session, two to the second-quickest, and one to the third-quickest.

Points are also available for qualifying higher overall; Enders-Stevens earned eight points for her No. 1 in Dallas last weekend.

“Getting those baby points in every round of qualifying certainly adds up,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are 12 points up for grabs for low e.t. of every qualifying session. They’re important and we want to go after them, too.”

Qualifying for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals gets under way at 2:45 p.m. CDT on Friday from Gateway Motorsports Park and continues at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday. Eliminations will be at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Enders-Stevens proud of Husky Liners team after solid showing in Dallas

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DALLAS (Sept. 22) – Erica Enders-Stevens and her Husky Liners team continue to move forward in the Pro Stock points standings and are now tied for sixth after a second-round finish at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Sunday at Texas Motorplex.

Enders-Stevens earned the No. 1 qualifier, beat Chris McGaha in the first round, and then left first on Vieri Gaines in the second round with a .008-second reaction time before Gaines nipped her at the finish line.

“I was really proud of my crew chiefs and my entire team for their performance in Dallas,” Enders-Stevens said of her Cagnazzi Racing team. “When you lose two sessions on Friday, it’s crucial to go out there and perform for the two qualifying runs you have left. We capitalized on it in the first round and were able to get the No. 1 qualifier.

“They’ve been consistently getting this race car down the track, and I’m proud of them. It gives me a lot of confidence as a driver knowing that I have a good car underneath me.”

Enders-Stevens’ driving was solid Sunday, as she left the starting line first against both opponents. Against McGaha, she had a .034 light and then made a pass of 6.573 seconds at 210.31 mph. That was enough to beat McGaha’s 6.641 at 208.78 mph.

“It was an OK run,” Enders-Stevens said. “I was OK on the Tree and the run was OK. We didn’t kill it, and there was certainly some left over in the car, but it was enough to win and that’s what matters. And it was enough to keep lane choice, too.”

Enders-Stevens chose the left lane against Gaines and was quicker out of the gate with a stellar .008 light. She made a pass of 6.604 seconds at 210.18 mph, but Gaines had a .010 light and made a slightly quicker lap of 6.596 seconds at 211.03 mph to take the win by .061-second.

“That was an important round for us because V. was really close to us in points,” Enders-Stevens said. “That would’ve been nice to spread the gap but it wasn’t our day. We did all that we could do and unfortunately came up short.”

Still, Enders-Stevens moved up one spot into a tie for sixth with Gaines, who lost in the semifinals after a .111 light.

“We’ll continue to plug away at it,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to start going more rounds if we want to win the championship. We know the task that is ahead of us and we’ll be all right.

“We’ve got a good car and it’s consistent. Plus, we’re getting down the racetrack, which is important in the Countdown. We’ve got to do our best every single time we pull up to the waterbox. We know that and I’m confident in my team. They’ve really been doing a great job and have figured this Chevy Camaro out.”

Up next for Enders-Stevens is the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals from Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis.

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