Posts Tagged Countdown
DALLAS (Sept. 18) – Husky Liners Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens had a solid start to the Countdown to the Championship, but she’s looking for more at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals this weekend at Texas Motorplex.
Enders-Stevens reached the semifinals in Charlotte, showing that her Cagnazzi Racing team’s brief layoff did nothing to impede its competitive fire. She gained ground on all but three drivers in the Countdown and moved up to seventh in the Pro Stock standings.
“It’s the second race of the Countdown and is just as important as the other five,” Enders-Stevens said of the Dallas race. “I’m ready. My family and friends are going to be there, and it’ll be an exciting weekend all the way around.”
Enders-Stevens is a Texas native, having been born and raised in Houston. Though she currently lives in New Orleans with husband Richie Stevens, she considers Texas her home state and smiles a little wider when she gets to go home.
Plus, she’s looking for a little redemption from the Dallas race in 2012, when she lost in the final to good friend Allen Johnson.
“I’m a Texas girl through and through, and I’m excited to be going back to my home state to try to take back a win we let slip through our fingers last season,” Enders-Stevens said. “We runner-upped to Brutus (Johnson) in the final when we had an electrical issue and gave the race to him.”
That was with the team’s Chevrolet Cobalt, which has since been replaced by a bright-yellow Husky Liners Camaro that has captured the imagination of her many fans. Of course, Enders-Stevens likes her race car, too, and is hoping to get back to victory lane for the second time this season.
“We’ve certainly got a race car that’s capable of winning if we remain consistent,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s just getting the car down the racetrack every time, and I hope to drive it to the winner’s circle from there.
“Yes I’m confident in my car and myself. I’m ready to go. I’m glad to be back in my home state.”
Qualifying for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals gets under way at 2:15 p.m. CDT on Friday from Texas Motorplex and continues at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday. Eliminations will be at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN News will broadcast the qualifying show at 11:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday and ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.
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.
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.”
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.