Posts Tagged Denver

After attending ESPYs, Erica Enders ready to kick off Western Swing

ee-den-pre

DENVER, CO — Fresh off her appearance at the ESPYs, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders is ready to kick off the Western Swing at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals this weekend at Bandimere Speedway.

Enders was nominated in the Best Driver category, with NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick winning the ESPY. Still, attending the ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and rubbing elbows with some of the best athletes in the world was a thrill.

“It was definitely a neat experience,” said Enders, who earned the nomination based on winning the 2014 Pro Stock world championship. “I’ve watched on TV in years past, so to be a part of it was pretty cool. I got to see and meet a lot of pretty famous athletes, so that was great. Of course, we wanted to win, but the NASCAR guy is hard to beat.”

Enders was able to meet NFL player Devin Still, who accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award in honor of his daughter Leah. Still gave a stirring acceptance speech that was one of the highlights of the night.

Enders now turns her attention to the three-race Western Swing, which also includes races in Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle. She’ll race the swing for the first time since 2012, as her Elite team skipped Sonoma and Seattle last year and she missed several races in 2013.

“It’ll be fun,” Enders said. “Sonoma is one of my favorite places to race at, and we’ve got a history at Seattle. Of course, the Mopars are always dominant in Denver, so we’re looking forward to trying to knock them off their rocker.”

Racing the Western Swing also means Enders and her Richard Freeman-owned team plan to compete in all 24 Pro Stock races this season, but they still are searching for sponsorship despite making the commitment to finish the season.

“Our goal is to always race all of the races,” Enders said. “It worked out OK last year, but it was definitely a nail-biter. I’m glad that we can race them all. It’s going to be a cutthroat year, for sure. Richard is going to run 15 events a year, and we do our best to fund the remaining nine. We’re not there yet, but we’re betting on it.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions will be held at 5 and 7:30 p.m. MDT, Friday, and 4 and 6:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET, Saturday, and the elimination rounds from 9 p.m. to midnight, Sunday.

Points Leader Enders-Stevens Drops Second-Round Race by .0003-Second

Erica Enders-Stevens 2014 Mile High Nationals

DENVER, CO — Moments after announcing she would be skipping the next two NHRA national events, Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens fell in the quarterfinal round of eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals by the infinitesimally small margin of three-ten-thousandths of a second, or less than one inch.

Racing her former crew chief Dave Connolly, whom she beat two weeks ago in the final round of the Norwalk, Ohio, event, Enders-Stevens posted a quicker elapsed time of 6.962 seconds during a 198.06-mph pass against Connolly’s 6.992 at 196.70 mph. The difference came at the starting line when Connolly reacted with a cosmic .007-second to Enders-Stevens’ .037-second launch.

“I’m pretty sure that was the closest race of my professional career,” Enders-Stevens said. “A couple more coats of paint on my Elite Motorsports Camaro and we might have had that one. Holeshot losses hurt the most because it’s all on the driver. My guys worked hard in very challenging conditions and gave me a great car. I just needed to be a thousandth of a second better behind the wheel. That’s drag racing.”

Enders-Stevens can take solace in the fact she became the first driver in any pro category to lock up a spot in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs that determines the titlists in each class.

“We’ve had a dream season so far, no doubt,” said Enders-Stevens, a Houston native who now resides in New Orleans. “We’ve got four wins, we’ve been No. 1 qualifier a few times, we have the biggest points lead in any pro class … it’s just been awesome from the start.

“Our first goal was to earn a spot in the Countdown and give ourselves a chance to contend for the championship. Now we’ve done that and at the same time we’ve earned ourselves a reputation as one of the top cars in the sport. We are on such a high and all the credit goes to this group of guys. Everyone at the shop and everyone that comes on the road is so focused.”

By skipping races in Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle, Enders-Stevens said her team will be better prepared for the final two regular-season races before the Countdown and the six-race sprint to the finish.

“We’ve done the math and we’re actually pretty optimistic we’ll stay No. 1 in the points,” Enders-Stevens said. “Either that or we’ll be in position to get it back in Brainerd (Minn.) or Indy before the Countdown starts. We don’t have a title sponsor, so there are no firm commitments to run every race. The sponsors we do have are totally OK with us going home and getting all of our motors in perfect condition for the Countdown. It’s time to focus on the top goal: winning the Mello Yello championship.

“The only thing I’m bummed about is not visiting with all our friends and fans in California and Washington, but hopefully people understand our game plan and cheer us through the Countdown.”

Can Enders-Stevens go 3-for-3 from the No 3 spot?

Erica Enders-Stevens Mile High Nationals

DENVER, CO — Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens hopes to go 3-for-3 from the No. 3 qualifying spot when final eliminations for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals begin on Sunday at Bandimere Speedway.

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 3 in Las Vegas … and won the race. She qualified No. 3 in Bristol … and won the race. Both times she started off eliminations by beating Larry Morgan in the first round.

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 3 here on Thunder Mountain and will race Morgan in the first round.

“I sure hope history repeats itself,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens has more than history on her side. She is the runaway points leader in the ultra-competitive class, with four victories this season, including at NHRA’s most recent race in Norwalk, Ohio.

“It would be cool to get another win here,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens made four good passes in qualifying, with her top lap of 6.934 seconds at 198.29 mph putting her in the No. 3 spot. But she was also in the top three in the three other qualifying sessions.

“We haven’t killed it here yet though,” Enders-Stevens said. “My crew chiefs are perfectionists and they haven’t been extremely pleased, but you have to be pleased with what’s going on this weekend. I just try to remind them what a good job they are doing and that we will be just fine.

“We have a consistent race car. We didn’t come up here to test and I haven’t raced here in a couple years, so it’s just different racing at altitude. All things considered it’s been a really great weekend so far.”

Morgan’s best pass was 7.019 seconds at 196.16 mph.

“The consistency will pay off tomorrow, going A to B on a hot track and crazy air conditions,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m optimistic. We need to have a good race day tomorrow.”

Final eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

Plan of Attack Stays the Same for Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports

Erica Enders-Stevens Norwalk burnout

DENVER, CO — Allen Johnson may be the king of the mountain, but the queen of Pro Stock is ready to knock him off his perch.

Johnson has been to the final round seven years in a row at Bandimere Speedway — winning five times — but Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team are looking to end his two-year winning streak at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals this weekend.

“I’m going to do everything I can to stop him,” Enders-Stevens said.

Enders-Stevens and her husband Richie are good friends with Johnson and his wife Pam, but friendships are put aside when helmet visors are closed.

“They’ve been the king of the mountain for a lot of years, and the Mopars always run really well at altitude, Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) and V. Gaines included,” Enders-Stevens said. “But our job is to do our best every weekend and make a run for the trophy. That plan won’t change for this weekend.”

Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock standings by 241 points over Johnson and is coming off her class-leading fourth victory of the season in Norwalk, Ohio, on July 6.

Bandimere Speedway is a different animal than every other track because its mile-high altitude affects horsepower and the tune-up, but Enders-Stevens and her team are ready for anything.

“It’s a challenge racing at altitude from a tuning standpoint and from a driving standpoint,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’ll be a very interesting weekend. We need to stay focused on the task at hand, and that’s to be consistent and go rounds. Going rounds gets more points, obviously, and that’s very important.”

Denver is one of Enders-Stevens’ favorite stops on the NHRA schedule, as she has raced there for years, dating back to her Sportsman days.

“We’ve been friends with the Bandimere family a long time,” Enders-Stevens said. “What they’ve done for our sport has been awesome, and the hospitality they offer is second to none.

“It’s going to be a hot weekend, but their cooling system in the track will help keep track temps at a manageable level. I’m appreciative to the Bandimere family for always providing us with a great facility, and we look forward to coming to Denver every year.”

Enders-Stevens will also participate in the Go Red For Women Track Walk at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday morning in support of the American Heart Association.

“It raises awareness for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women,” Enders-Stevens said. “Everybody is invited and be sure to wear red!”

Qualifying for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals is held at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m. MDT, Friday, and at 3:15 and 5:45 p.m., Saturday. Final eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all qualifying and elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

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