Posts Tagged Dallas

Even in adversity Erica Enders finds encouragement after quarterfinal finish in Dallas

Erica Enders | Dallas NHRA 2017

DALLAS, TX – Two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion and proud native Texan Erica Enders, driver of the bright red Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, raced to a second-round finish today in eliminations of the AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals at the Texas Motorplex.

With only two events remaining in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif., Enders is optimistic she’ll visit the winner’s circle again this season, but she also laments on a very close loss to Greg Anderson Sunday.

“The car’s running better,” said Enders, who recently turned 34. “That was my round to win for sure. I gave it up on my end, both at the Christmas Tree and with my lapse in driving skills. It’s just one of those deals. Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug, and today I’m the bug. I’m disappointed in myself because my guys gave me a really great car that was capable of winning the round and capable of fighting for the event win.”

Along with getting the customary winner’s Wally trophy for winning the event, the folks at the Texas Motorplex offer up a couple of more reasons to race for a victory in the Lone Star State.

“I want to do well everywhere I go, but I really wanted to do well here in Texas,” Enders said. “The cowboy hat and belt buckle incentives for winning are very cool, but my head wasn’t completely in the game today. I’m disappointed for my team because they worked their butts off and I didn’t do my part behind the wheel.”

Despite her critical self-assessment, Enders is encouraged by the performance of her entire Richard Freeman-owned Elite Motorsports team, which includes Jeg Coughlin Jr., Brian Self and Alex Laughlin.

Enders defeated Kenny Delco in the opening round after Delco jumped the start with a red light.

“We got down the track all four qualifying sessions,” Enders said. “We were third after Friday. Today we had a slight mishap in the first round, it shook the tires and I had to pedal and get it down there but we got the round win. In the second round, we went out and threw up a pretty good number on the board, one that was good enough to win, so it’s disheartening.

“We are headed to my favorite track on the circuit, definitely my luckiest track, so we’ll see if we can turn it around in Vegas.”

Weeks of exhaustive testing finally paying dividends for Pro Stock champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | Dallas 2017 NHRA

DALLAS, TX — Ever since her Elite Motorsports race team began to experience a performance downturn a few months ago, two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders has been testing the wheels off Richard Freeman’s Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

It appears all of that extra work, along with some reconfigured parts dreamed up by car builder and crew chief Rick Jones, are paying off big for the 22-time national event winner.

Enders posted four very competitive runs during qualifying for this weekend’s 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals — a 6.651, 6.634, 6.652 and finally a 6.629 at 207.72 mph — to qualify a lofty fifth on the elimination grid. It’s her best qualifying effort since the Seattle race, which was six national events ago.

“This weekend has definitely been a big step in the right direction,” Enders said. “No surprise but we tested again in Noble, Oklahoma, earlier this week, both my car and Jeg (Coughlin Jr., teammate’s) car, and we did really well which gave us a little extra confidence coming in here.

“Rick did some things to the cars after St. Louis and they’re working much better so we certainly have a lot of optimism. We definitely felt like we had a much better handle on these Rick Jones Chevy Camaros after the test but you never know until you come here and run them against a pro field. Now we have, and the results are very promising.”

Enders will open eliminations against part-timer Kenny Delco, who qualified 12th with a 6.659 208.07 mph. Enders and Delco have not raced one another this season.

“After Friday’s sessions we were third overall,” Enders said. “We didn’t make a great run this morning and got bumped back a couple of places to fifth but that run was still a lot better than we have been doing. The last qualifying session, which was the worst session of all four as far as conditions go, we made our best run.

“Running your best run in the worst session is not something that normally happens with the field but it’s something we’ve accomplished a lot in our careers, especially during our two championship runs. It’s nice to be back in that position where we have a race car for Sunday that can win rounds.”

Adding to Enders’ upbeat attitude is the weather forecast, which is calling for cooler, Pro-Stock-friendly temperatures.

“We’re looking forward to tomorrow,” Enders said. “It’s definitely going to be a big change of weather with the cold front coming in overnight. I’m pleased about that because I feel like we are better at big weather changes than most teams so I think tomorrow will be a good day for us. We’ll do our best all day long. It’ll be tough race day like it always is but the main goal tomorrow will be the cowboy hat they give the winner.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry live elimination action from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Two-time Pro Stock champ Erica Enders dreams of a ‘white hat’ day in her home state

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock

DALLAS, TX — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders scratched a huge entry off her personal bucket list during her 2015 visit to Texas Motorplex when she won the annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, thereby completing a sweep of the races in her beloved home state of Texas.

As is tradition at the event, Enders was outfitted with a cowboy hat in the winner’s circle and she picked a black one for a very specific reason.

“We were bad hombres that year and that win in Dallas went a long way to locking up our second straight championship,” Enders said. “We were taking no prisoners and kicking a lot of butt and it seemed fitting that I put on a black hat that day.”

Should Enders return to the winner’s circle this time through, she has a different plan, one that once again would reflect her mood.

“You never know how we’d feel at the end of the day because it depends on the journey the day presents,” Enders said, “but if you asked me right now I’d say it would be a great feeling and one that would make everyone on this Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro race team pretty damn happy.

“If we’re lucky enough to win again, and I know we’re fully capable of making it happen, I’d probably ask for a white hat. It would be nice to be the good girl at the end of the day for once. We’re probably not in the title fight at this point so the next best thing is to win these last few races and move up as high as we can.”

Enders already won a race earlier this year in Epping, N.H., making her one of nine different Pro Stock drivers who have scored this season. She also was runner-up in Atlanta, Chicago and Seattle.

Aside from her victory at Texas Motorplex in 2015, the Houston native was runner-up at this facility in 2012.

“It’s always a big deal for me whenever we race in Texas,” Enders said. “No matter where my travels may take me, this is the place I love the most. Racing in my home state also means lots of extra support and family at the track, and that carries over to all the guys on the Elite team because we’re based in Wynnewood, Okla.

“We plan on testing more before the race so we’ll be fully prepared to get after it and try to win another hat, a white one.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 5-6 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

No home state luck for Texan Erica Enders as two-time champ ousted early

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DALLAS, TX — Two-time and reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders was hoping for a taste of home cooking Sunday at the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals but instead the Spring, Texas native was eliminated early by title contender Greg Anderson at the Texas Motorplex.

The No. 15 qualifier out of 16 cars, Enders was hoping for a big upset of Anderson, a fellow multi-time champion ranked second in the world at the moment. Instead, Enders’ fouled out by a scant -.001 seconds, while Anderson took care of business, running 6.607 at 209.46 mph to Enders’ 6.682 at 207.08 mph.

“I figured I’d do all I could at the start and hope he was a little late and we could steal one away from him,” Enders said. “I was a thousandths of a second from perfect but ended up being on the wrong side of that red bulb.

“He obviously had us covered anyway but I ran the pass out just to get the data. There’s always Vegas and Pomona and we have designs on finishing as strong as possible.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates will enjoy a weekend off before the second-to-last race of 2016, the Toyota NHRA Nationals, which take place Oct. 28-30, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Even though the results weren’t what we wanted, I still had a great time being here in Texas. I love this state and miss it when I’m not here. Thank you so much to all the fans that stopped by and encouraged us. We’ve had a tough year but I promise big things are straight ahead and we’ll be back better than ever in 2017.”

FOX Sports 1 will broadcast elimination action live from 2-5 p.m. ET.

Texas native Erica Enders will need perfection to defend Dallas title

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DALLAS, TX — Reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders will have to be perfect to defend the title of the annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals after an off-pace qualifying effort that left her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart in the 15th spot on the elimination ladder.

Enders powered to a convincing victory at this event one year ago that all but clinched her second straight world title. It was one of nine wins she recorded in a record-breaking year. The Spring, Texas native hasn’t been as fortunate this season, and she finds herself still searching for her first win of 2016.

“Three races left on the schedule so that’s three chances to win,” Enders said. “Realistically, it’ll be tough and we didn’t do ourselves any favors here during qualifying but that won’t stop us from giving our all tomorrow. We’ve seen crazier things happen in the past.

“We have three cars racing out of Elite Motorsports between myself, Jeg (Coughlin) and Vincent (Nobile). Vincent is still very much in the mix for the championship this year so at our last team meeting Jeg and I told him we’d do all we could to help him get there. The best thing we can do is knock off those cars he’s battling, so we’ll give it hell.”

Friday qualifying ended with Enders posting a 6.652 at 207.75 mph, but that number wasn’t good enough to lock up a spot in the top 12 so the team had to start over Saturday. In her first effort Saturday she was forced to shut off well before the finish line and she drifted to a 9.776 at 94.49 mph.

Later, she came back in the final session and ran a 6.748 at 184.45 mph, the 15th best time of the day. Her first match-up will come against championship hopeful Greg Anderson, who topped out at 6.579 at 210.11 mph.

“Greg and Jason (Line, Anderson’s teammate) have been 1-2 all year between the two of them so right off the start we have a chance to take out a top car,” Enders said. “Obviously they have us covered this weekend but you never know what will happen on race day.

“I’m so happy to be back in Texas. I love my state and I feel so great whenever I’m here breathing Texas air.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast all of the elimination action live from 2-5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

Points leader Erica Enders now has destiny in her hands at crucial Dallas race


DALLAS, TX — Race day at the 30th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals could very well go down as the one that decides the Pro Stock championship with the top three drivers in the Mello Yello points stacked up for early head-to-head battles when eliminations begin Sunday at Texas Motorplex.

Current points leader and reigning NHRA champion Erica Enders has a slight advantage in her Elite Motorsports Camaro as she outqualified both second-ranked driver Greg Anderson and third-place Chris McGaha, who won the last race in Reading, Pa.

Adding a huge dose of intrigue, Anderson and McGaha are slotted to face one another in the opening round, with Enders getting the winner of that head-to-head match should she manage to beat Vieri Gaines in her Round 1 race. The end result is that only one of the three top drivers in the points has a chance to reach the semifinals.

“Wow, it’s crazy the way the elimination ladder worked out,” Enders said. “Greg and Chris facing each other right off is a huge race. Greg outqualified him (6.484 to 6.518) but Chris did win Reading, so he could score an upset.

“We just need to take care of business against V., which will not be easy, and we need to win with a good-enough elapsed time to try and maintain lane choice for the winner of Greg and Chris’ race. It’s a ton of pressure, but we work best under pressure, and I think our track record proves that point.”

Enders, who tops the NHRA charts with seven victories this year, had a best pass of 6.480 at 213.47 mph, which slotted her fourth overall, a few ticks behind her teammate Drew Skillman, who took the pole with a 6.471. In Round 1, she will enjoy lane choice over Gaines, who had a best pass of 6.543 at 209.39 mph. Enders is 4-0 versus Gaines this season.

“V. is my buddy and a true gentleman racer,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens. “But I’ll tell you what, when he’s at the line, he’s going for the win every time. He’s a very tough draw.

“We’ll go into race day like we do every weekend: with a desire to be the quickest and the fastest car on the property. We’ll double- and triple-check everything on the car and we’ll be ready for whatever happens. The guys know what’s a stake here. This is a team full of champions.”

Enders entered the weekend 72 points ahead of Anderson and 104 points up on McGaha. Each round won on race day is worth 20 points.

“It’s not a total do-or-die race because we’ve got a little cushion in the standings and we’ve still got Las Vegas and Pomona on the schedule,” Enders said, “but we could sure make it tough on them if we can turn on the win light four times tomorrow. We need to take care of business and I need to do my job behind the wheel. I love it; having our fate in our hands is what we want.”

Texas girl Erica Enders wants another big win in her home state

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DALLAS, TX — Erica Enders is known as the reigning Pro Stock world champion. She’s also referred to as the points leader and odds-on favorite to win this year’s title, having led the standings for the last four races. She’s the most prolific female racer in class history and recently passed legend Shirley Muldowney for number of national event victories on the all-time list.

The bottom line is Enders can answer to a lot of different titles, but the one she relishes the most is a simple one: Texan.

Born and raised in Houston, Enders attended Texas A&M before chasing her drag racing dream full-time. The decorated driver of the Elite Motorsports Camaro often wears Texas-themed clothing and jewelry and always greets fellow Lone Star State inhabitants with a broad smile, no matter where in the world she might be.

It’s no wonder she’s so anxious to win this weekend’s AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, a racetrack at which she has competed since she was 8 years old.

“It’s time to get a pro win up there,” Enders said. “This would be the perfect season to get it done because we already won the Houston race in April, so we could sweep the Texas races. That would mean a lot to me, being a Texas girl and all.”

Enders certainly has the horsepower to get the job done. She has won an NHRA-leading and personal-best seven national events this year, including at three of the last five stops on tour, and has a comfortable three-and-a-half-round lead over her nearest rival in the Mello Yello championship points with just three races left in the season.

She has been the No. 1 qualifier five times, had the quickest car on the property six times, and posted top speed at three different meets.

“It’s all about this incredible team that (owner) Richard Freeman has put together,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens. “The guys in the Elite pit are the best in the business. I’m just the lucky girl that gets to drive the car and do the interviews on TV.

“Being a Texas girl, I do take a lot of pride in my work ethic, and having a fast hot rod makes me work even harder to be perfect whenever I climb into the car and put on my helmet. It’s always a lot of pressure, but over the years I’ve figured out how to thrive off of that pressure. I actually drive better when the stakes are highest, and as much as we want to win this race and put more points on the board, I’ll be feeling it for sure.

“We’ve made a few real good runs at the Dallas trophy before but never with a car like this one. We’re ready to get it done.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:45 and 5:45 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are scheduled to begin at noon, Sunday. All racing action will be shown on ESPN2.

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.

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