Posts Tagged Countdown

St. Louis Continues to be Elite Track for Enders-Stevens

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 26) — The love affair with Gateway Motorsports Park continued Friday for Pro Stock racer Erica Enders-Stevens.

The Elite Motorsports driver, who is gunning for her third consecutive Pro Stock victory at Gateway, earned the provisional No. 1 qualifier for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals with a blistering pass of 6.513 seconds at 212.90 mph.

“I love St. Louis; I have since I was a little girl,” Enders-Stevens said. “Coming here and racing in the Sportsman ranks, we had a couple of semifinal finishes in Super Comp and Super Gas. That’s pretty neat when you have a 100-count field.

“I’ve just always liked coming here, and when they brought the races back here in 2012, we were able to win then and in 2013 as well. We’re hoping for a three-peat this year.

“I’m not really sure what it is but there are just some tracks that are really good to certain drivers. I’m glad that this is one of them and I’m certainly glad that it’s in the Countdown at the moment. Day by day, we’ll see how it goes.”

Enders-Stevens’ top pass came in the first qualifying session, and she was hoping for an even quicker run in Q2.

“After that first session we were pleased with the numbers we saw up on the board,” Enders-Stevens said. “That was pretty evident when the No. 2 qualifier was a solid three-hundredths behind us. I’m really proud of my team. We went out there and made some changes for (Q2) and obviously missed it a little bit but should have, could have, would have.

“There was definitely a high .49, low .50 in the car, so we’ll go back and assess and see what happens tomorrow. I’m excited though.”

Two more qualifying sessions are on the schedule for Saturday, when Enders-Stevens could earn her fourth No. 1 of 2014 and 10th of her career.

But perhaps more important is the opportunity to add more qualifying bonus points. Enders-Stevens was quickest in the second session (6.413 seconds at 212.26 mph), earning six bonus points total on Friday.

Enders-Stevens came to Gateway fourth in the points standings after two of the six Countdown to the Championship races, trailing leader Jason Line by 59 points.

“(Qualifying points) are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “I know I said it before but these baby points are going to be like thousandths of a second in Pro Stock racing out there on Sunday. Every little point matters, especially coming into this race. We’re only nine points behind third, 16 behind second, and three rounds behind first, so they all add up.

“We’re just going to take it one round at a time, one run at a time, day by day and do the best job that we can do.”

St. Louis Could be Enders-Stevens’ ‘Gateway’ to the Championship

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 23) — Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens has been perfect at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals since its addition to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule in 2012, and she hopes to keep her streak alive at Gateway Motorsports Park

Heading into St. Louis with the title of two-time defending champion, Enders-Stevens will be the odds-on favorite to complete the trifecta this weekend. Chasing the 2014 championship, Enders-Stevens’ Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet will prove hard to beat.

“I’m really looking forward to going back to St. Louis,” Enders-Stevens. “We’re the defending champions there the last two consecutive years. That racetrack is really good to me; it’s definitely a lucky track.

“We always perform pretty well there. We’ve done a lot of testing there, so a lot of laps up and down that racetrack have been made.”

Returning to a track where she has had so much success, Enders-Stevens has faith that the dream season is going to continue with help from her Elite Motorsports team. Currently fourth in the standings, just 59 points behind leader Jason Line, Enders-Stevens feels confident that St. Louis could be the turning point she needs in the Countdown to the Championship.

“With this team, I feel even more capable than I ever have before,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m excited to get back there; the fans are always great and the facility is nice.

“We’re going to kick the weekend off with a press conference Thursday, followed by the Fan Festival downtown. It should be a really good, fun weekend for us. I’m excited to hit the road with my team and get the Countdown rolling in our direction.”

Qualifying sessions will be held at 2:45 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

After Dallas, Enders-Stevens’ Championship Race is Heating Up

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DALLAS (Sept. 21) — While the extreme temperatures weren’t kind to Texas native Erica Enders-Stevens Sunday, her Mach 1 Global Services Pro Stock Camaro continued to heat up the lanes in eliminations despite her early exit from the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

Even though her first-round match had Elite Motorsports power facing off, Enders-Stevens powered her Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet past Rodger Brogdon’s Camaro with a 6.574-second pass at 210.44 mph.

However, Enders-Stevens was in a race of mere inches during the second round between her and Jonathan Gray. With reaction times within thousandths, Enders-Stevens’ .030 to Gray’s .023, her red Camaro was just edged out at the finish line despite making the second-quickest pass of the round at 6.599 seconds.

“It certainly wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for,” Enders-Stevens said. “Coming into the second race of the Countdown, we really needed to go some rounds to make up for our second-round Charlotte loss that was run in Dallas. It is what it is.

“I could not be more proud of my team though. Rick and Rickie Jones, my crew chiefs, gave it their all today. They always give it their all but they really dug deep. On a tricky racetrack without lane choice, we went out there and were the second-quickest car. It would have won any other round but the round we just raced.

“I’m proud of them and their hard work, determination, and perseverance. If this team has anything, they have heart, myself included.”

While she would have loved to snag the Wally in her home state, Enders-Stevens is still within distance of regaining her spot on top of the Pro Stock points standings. As the defending winner two years in a row in St. Louis, the next stop in the Countdown to the Championship, she is in the best position possible to make that points jump happen.

“We’re going to go to St. Louis with our chins up and do our best there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll see what happens. We’ve got to race hard. There are four races left, a lot of racing left. With just a 10-point spread between each driver, anything can happen.

“We’ll go to St. Louis, do our best, and let God do the rest. I could not be more proud or optimistic.”

Enders-Stevens will look forward to her return to Gateway Motorsports Park, Sept. 26-28, where she can retain her title of defending race winner.

Enders-Stevens Goes for Texas Sweep in Dallas

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DALLAS (Sept. 20) — Texas native Erica Enders-Stevens will go for the Lone Star sweep during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Sunday at Texas Motorplex with her Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet.

Enders-Stevens won at her home track, Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, in April. She’ll chase the Texas two-step from the No. 6 qualifying spot on Sunday.

“Tomorrow is going to be the hottest, sunniest day of all,” Enders-Stevens said. “We obviously performed well in those conditions. I’m optimistic about tomorrow, and the ladder looks nice. We’ll see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens, debuting Mach 1 colors in Dallas, can’t win two races this weekend, as she dropped a second-round match on Saturday to Shane Gray in a continuation of the postponed NHRA Carolinas Nationals from zMax Dragway.

That came after making the third-quickest pass in Dallas’ first qualifying session Friday and then beating John Gaydosh in the Charlotte first round during Dallas Q2.

Enders-Stevens left first on Gaydosh and never trailed, making a pass of 6.603 seconds at 206.29 mph to Gaydosh’s 6.662-second run at 207.53 mph.

“We made a decent run but definitely had some left in it,” Enders-Stevens said of Q1. “Going up for Q2, which is the first round of eliminations from Charlotte, we had a little bit of a different mindset because it’s hard to go from qualifying to race mode in what really should be a qualifying session. We did all right.”

Enders-Stevens, the No. 1 qualifier from Charlotte, then faced Gray, the No. 8 qualifier. Gray was given lane choice based on his performance in Friday’s qualifying session, not Charlotte eliminations.

“NHRA made a rule change on the lane choice aspect of it, which was very detrimental to our team,” Enders-Stevens said. “Obviously, it was a one-lane race facility, and that was the end of that. It’s unfortunate that things were handled that way when the championship is on the line, but it is what it is.”

To make matters worse for Enders-Stevens, several single-car runs were made, all in the preferred right lane. Gray chose that lane, putting Enders-Stevens in the left lane.

“Lane choice is crucial,” Enders-Stevens said. “Friday it wasn’t; both lanes were pretty equal. Today, though, before the second round of eliminations, they ran several singles in the right lane, then drug the track and sent us out. Nobody had run in front of that person in the left lane.”

Enders-Stevens left first with a .025-second lead, but her red Camaro made an immediate right turn, and she had to push the clutch in as Gray sped to the victory.

“We lost that round, and we turned everything back around and came out for Q4 and made a decent run for the heat of the day,” Enders-Stevens said. “It was a 130-degree racetrack and really tricky out there. We definitely had some left in it on that run.”

That turned out to be her best pass of the weekend, 6.590 seconds at 210.74 mph, to move her to sixth in the qualifying order. She’ll line up against No. 11 qualifier Rodger Brogdon, whose best pass was 6.615 seconds at 209.79 mph.

“It’s going to be a toss-up tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to really monitor the weather and the track conditions and base our tune-up accordingly. We’ll be all right. I’ve got two of the best crew chiefs in the pits and the best team out here. I’m excited and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Enders-Stevens unofficially remains second in the Pro Stock standings, 59 points behind leader Jason Line after one of six races in the Countdown to the Championship.

Charlotte No. 1 Qualifier Enders-Stevens will Continue Title Pursuit in Dallas

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CHARLOTTE (Sept. 14) — The Pep Boys NHRA Carolinas Nationals was postponed Sunday because of rain and deteriorating track conditions at zMax Dragway. The race will be completed during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals next weekend at Texas Motorplex.

No. 1 qualifier Erica Enders-Stevens and her Mach 1 Chevrolet will face No. 16 John Gaydosh when the Charlotte race is resumed.

Top Fuel and Funny Car classes completed their first round of eliminations Sunday, but racing was halted during round one of Pro Stock after driver Vieri Gaines crashed. Pro Stock teams returned to their pit area, and Pro Stock Motorcycle teams followed suit.

Rain later began to fall, and NHRA officials announced that racing was done for the day. The decision was later made to complete the event in Dallas. The updated Dallas schedule will be released at a later date.

Enders-Stevens Qualifies No. 1 in Charlotte as Countdown to the Championship Begins

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE (Sept. 13) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens stormed to her third No. 1 qualifier of the season with an impressive performance during the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in both sessions Saturday, capping off her qualifying dominance with a pass of 6.568 seconds at 210.37 mph to earn her ninth career No. 1 and first in Charlotte.

“Things feel better,” Enders-Stevens said. “I stated on Friday that the car was acting right again, and we seem to have our ducks a little bit more in a row than we had at Indy and Brainerd (Minn.). It couldn’t have come at a better time, being that this is the start of the Countdown (to the Championship).

“I also talked about how important it is to start off on the right foot, and the first two days have gone smoothly and I’m hopeful that will continue tomorrow.”

Enders-Stevens was quickest in each of the four qualifying sessions, earning 12 bonus points and helping cut into Jason Line’s lead.

“The points you’re awarded for running low e.t. of every qualifying session, those all add up,” Enders-Stevens said. “We acquired 12 of them this weekend, and Jason, who’s ahead of me in points, got two, so we picked up on him. That’s so, so crucial with only 24 rounds of racing left.”

After the points were reset following the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Line carried a 30-point lead on Enders-Stevens and the rest of the Pro Stock top 10, but Enders-Stevens has already cut that by a third, getting within a round of the lead. Twenty points are awarded for every round-win in NHRA competition.

Enders-Stevens begins pursuit of her fifth victory of the season with a first-round race against John Gaydosh, who was the No. 16 qualifier with a top pass of 6.697 seconds at 206.39 mph.

“Hat’s off to my team, my crew chiefs, and all the guys who worked their tails off to give me a great, consistent race car,” Enders-Stevens said. “That track was pretty tricky this afternoon, being as hot as it was, and they nailed the tune-up. I’m really excited going into Sunday.”

Pro Stock’s Enders-Stevens Earns Provisional No. 1 Spot after Friday Qualifying in Charlotte

Erica Enders-Stevens is provisionally qualified number 1 after Friday's rounds at zMAX Dragway

CHARLOTTE, NC (Sept. 12) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens doesn’t believe in any No. 1 qualifying jinx.

The provisional No. 1 for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, Enders-Stevens is the only driver in 2014 to win from the No. 1 qualifying spot, so she relishes the chance to get her first pole position in Charlotte.

“It’s only Friday, but it’s really cool to be on top,” Enders-Stevens said. “Those baby points these last six races are going to matter now more than ever. As many as we can rack up will be great. It’s a good start to what’s hopefully a wonderful weekend.”

Enders-Stevens, who won from the No. 1 spot in Norwalk, Ohio, in July, was quickest in both qualifying sessions, earning three bonus points for each. Points leader Jason Line garnered one bonus point Friday, so Enders-Stevens sliced his unofficial lead to 25 points in the battle for the championship.

The Countdown to the Championship begins this weekend, and Enders-Stevens sits second in the Pro Stock standings.

“Baby points, the points you’re awarded for being low for each qualifying session, are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were able to acquire six of those today, so we gained five on Jason.

“It’s a really good start. I’m proud of my team. We struggled the last couple races, in Brainerd (Minn.) and Indianapolis, and at our test session in St. Louis. It’s very refreshing to see Old Red is back to herself.”

Her Chevrolet Camaro made a top pass of 6.591 seconds at 210.11 mph that puts her atop the Pro Stock field.

“We’ve tried hard not to change our mindset at all,” Enders-Stevens said. “We just need to focus on the task at hand — and that’s one round at a time, day by day — and not get too focused on the big picture at the end of the season. We’ve just got to do our job, day in and day out, and make every little point count.

“We had a team meeting this morning where we discussed our goals for the Countdown. It’s the small steps on the way to the big goal.”

Champion Chase on Enders-Stevens’ Mind as Countdown Begins

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CHARLOTTE (Sept. 10) — Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens has had her best season as a professional in 2014, but she’s far from being satisfied.

As the Countdown to the Championship begins with the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals this weekend at zMax Dragway, Enders-Stevens has her sights set on the Pro Stock championship with her red Chevrolet Camaro.

“I’m stoked,” Enders-Stevens said. “We made big strides in the right direction at Indy, and we’ve got ‘Ol Red back. She’s acting right again, and that’s encouraging heading into the Countdown and starting this four-race swing.”

Charlotte not only kicks off the Countdown, it’s the start of a string of races on four consecutive weekends. A stumble in the first race of the playoffs could be detrimental to any title contender’s hopes.

“We’ve got to start out on the right foot,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to have all our ducks in a row as soon as we walk in the gate. We’ve got to stay ahead of the game. It’s very important to start out on the right foot.”

Enders-Stevens has performed well in Charlotte, reaching the final round of the Four-Wide Nationals three years in a row, narrowly missing out on victory.

“We’ve done really well in Charlotte in the past,” Enders-Stevens said. “We love Charlotte. I lived there for a while. It’s a familiar place, and we’ve done a lot of testing at the facility. Bruton Smith has done a fantastic job and it’s a state-of-the-art racetrack.”

Enders-Stevens has won four times this season and led the Pro Stock standings 13 weeks in a row. She’s currently in second place, and after the points were reset following Indianapolis, she’s 30 markers out of the lead.

“There are only 24 rounds of racing left,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to do our job. At this point, I rely a lot on my faith. I know there’s a bigger plan, and we’re not going to get stressed out. We’re going to continue to have fun and do the best we can do and see what happens.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:45 and 3 p.m., Friday, and 1 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

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