Posts Tagged Elite Motorsports

Two-time champ Erica Enders presses towards top of Pro Stock category

Erica Enders | Gainesville NHRA Pro Stock 2017

GAINESVILLE, FL — Perhaps in a last-minute bid to impress voters in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders ripped off her first 6.4-second pass of NHRA’s fuel-injected era to qualify a lofty third on the elimination ladder of the 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

Enders’ 6.490 at 214.01 mph was more than enough to lock up her best qualifying effort since last year’s Denver race, a span of 13 national events. It also makes her one of the favorites to win the prestigious and historic Gatornationals, one of the stops on tour she has yet to conquer.

“I’m really pleased with our performance here in Gainesville and if fans recognize we’re a true contender again and vote us into the K&N Challenge based on this weekend, that would be a real blessing,” Enders said. “It’s funny but it’s always the weekends where you don’t start off on the right foot where you tend to do better. We had to abort Q1 but we’ve been awesome ever since.

“Tomorrow is going to be a warm day, just like today. The race track is very tricky, very marginal so I think tomorrow it’s going to be a driver’s race, which I love. My guys give me a consistent car that goes A to B. That’s how we won both of our championships and I’m going to do my best to drive to the winner’s circle.

“Having run what we just ran in the heat of the day knowing there was more left in the car and being second quickest of the session gives us a lot of confidence going into race day. I’m really excited. One win I lack that is really prestigious is the Gatornationals so we are going to put our heads down and go to work tomorrow.”

The jump in performance wasn’t a surprise to Enders, who reported team owner Richard Freeman had her and the rest of his Elite Motorsports group test Enders’ Chevrolet Camaro following the last national event in Phoenix.

“Hard work always pays off,” Enders said. “Before Pheonix, I tested Jeg’s car. I think I made 25 runs in his car and I asked Richard if we could test my car when we got done with Pheonix. We had some issues to sort out with it and we all want to win more than anything so we’ll do whatever it takes to get there.

“Testing a few days in Oklahoma and just being behind the wheel of a race car every day for the last two weeks straight kept me sharp for this race and allowed me to have a lot of fun. I’m blessed to be in the position I am, to have such a great team that stands behind me, all because of Richard. We’re excited about tomorrow and we’ll see what we can do.”

As the No. 3 qualifier, Enders will enjoy lane choice in her first-round race against Alan Prusiensky when Sunday’s eliminations begin at noon. Enders has her opponent covered by a tenth of a second — a stunning gap in the factory hot rod class — with Prusiensky topping out at 6.590 seconds and 211.69 mph in qualifying 14th on the grid.

FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying highlights at 11 p.m., Saturday, followed by live elimination action beginning at 1 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in EDT).

Two-time drag racing champ Erica Enders looking to add ‘Gator’ skin to her wall

Erica Enders 2017 NHRA Pro Stock

GAINESVILLE, FL — One of only three women in history to capture a world championship in any of the top forms of motorsports, Erica Enders has amassed 21 national event victories in her illustrious career. However, that impressive number of wins doesn’t include one from the prestigious Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, a fact Enders would like to change at the 48th running of the event this weekend.

“I’ve always looked at the Gatornationals as one of the big-time, heritage races on the schedule so certainly we’d love to win it,” Enders said. “There’s a real party atmosphere with Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day going on, plus all the people escaping the snow up north come down for the weekend. It’s always a lot of fun.

“We’ve been super busy since Phoenix, testing the Pro Stock car, running our Omaha Track COPO Camaro in Stock at a divisional event, and even racing in an NMCA event. I’ve been driving some sort of racecar for 12 days straight. It’s been a blast.”

Enders certainly knows how to win as her Richard Freeman-led race team collected 15 Pro Stock victories in their two-year championship run, six in 2014 and nine more in 2015. She says the recipe and ingredients used to cook up those successes haven’t change a bit.

“Richard is really good at creating a family environment and keeping everyone happy and motivated at the same time,” Enders said. “We have three Pro Stock teams under the Elite umbrella this year and all of us have worked together for a long time now so we know how to get the best out of the entire group. There is no ego on this team. We’re all working together for the best of the team.

“All three cars have started well and we’re all in the top 10 in the Mello Yello points so we’re happy. Most of all, we’re still having the best time, hanging out and racing with each other. I wouldn’t trade this group for anything.”

Gainesville will offer Enders two chances to win as aside from her Pro Stock car, she’ll be racing Terry Peterson’s Omaha Track COPO Camaro in the first of five Factory Stock Showdown scheduled this season. The car features Patterson-Elite horsepower.

“It’s a great racecar, very fast and super smooth,” she said. “I do know we’ll be up against the best Stock racers in the country and everyone wants to win this deal so it’ll be cutthroat, but I pretty much have raced under that pressure my whole career. We’ll be ready.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions for the 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals are scheduled for 12:45 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 12 and 2:30 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with two qualifying shows, one at 12 a.m., Friday, and the other at 11 p.m., Saturday, followed by live elimination action beginning at 1 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in EDT).

Popular two-time champ Erica Enders has program right on track for Phoenix race

Erica Enders 2017 NHRA Pro Stock

CHANDLER, AZ — Before she even turned professional, let alone captured two world championships, drag racer Erica Enders had a Disney movie made about her and her sister Courtney’s lives in the NHRA Junior Dragster ranks. The film, the most watched movie in Disney Channel history, was entitled Right On Track.

Heading into this weekend’s 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Enders says the same title could easily be used to describe Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports race team, the group she’s been with for four seasons.

“Everything is right on track, for sure,” Enders said. “It’s no secret we had a down year in 2016, and it was a big deal because we’d just won back-to-back championships (in 2014-2015). We just struggled with the car we had and never got the engine right.

“Richard made a big decision, a very expensive decision in the off-season to switch back to GM horsepower and Chevrolet Camaros. That’s the brand we had when we did all our winning and it’s already made such a difference. We are back in competitive form and come into this race knowing we have a darn good chance to win. It’s been more than a year since we’ve been able to say that.”

Enders won the Phoenix race outright in 2013 and was runner-up at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in 2015. She also was top qualifier at the track in 2015.

“It’s a really unique setting and a place where I really like to visit because I have family here,” said Enders, a 21-time national event winner. “The track can be good, depending on the weather, and it can also be tricky if the dust gets stirred up. We already tested there a lot this year so we’re ready for anything.

“I really enjoy the fans also. They are friendly and into what we’re doing. It’s always fun when the people are behind you and cheering for you because we all try hard to put on a great race for them. This year I’m feeling we can really do something special so maybe we’ll be celebrating with them in the winner’s circle again.”

There are three cars racing out of the Elite Motorsports camp and Enders, following her semifinal finish at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif., is leading the way in fourth place. Teammates Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin Jr. follow in fifth and sixth, respectively. All three crew chiefs work together and share data.

“We’re a true team in every sense of the word and we have a lot of fun racing as a team,” Enders said. “That’s our secret weapon.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:30 and 4 p.m. MT, Friday and Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon MT, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with two qualifying shows from 10-11 p.m. MT, Friday, and 10-11 p.m. MT, Saturday, followed by three hours of elimination action from 4-7 p.m. MT, Sunday.

Erica Enders fires plenty of warning shots during season-opening Winternationals

Erica Enders | NHRA Pomona 2017 | Elite Motorsports

POMONA, CA — Back in the comfy confines of her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, two-time world champion Erica Enders didn’t walk away with the trophy of this weekend’s 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, but she certainly reminded everyone of why she dominated the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

A year with a different manufacturer made the category’s most prolific female racer an afterthought to many, but as soon as she got back in her Chevy, she quickly re-established herself as a top contender.

“Not a bad first Sunday, especially after the year we had last year,” Enders said. “I’m extremely proud of my guys this weekend, as I always am. We are still a little bit behind the top cars but they can bet their butts we’re going to catch up and if anything they definitely know we’re here again.

“I’m extremely pleased with our outing and Phoenix will be even better.”

With a stunning race-day average reaction time of .011 seconds, Enders powered past Matt Hartford and teammate Vincent Nobile before squaring off with four-time champ Greg Anderson in the semifinals. There, despite yet another stellar reaction time which gave her a .02-second headstart, she was beaten by Anderson by half a car length, 6.574 at 211.10 mpg to her 6.599 at 210.18 mph.

” It feels good that my left leg still works,” Enders said, referring to her clutch foot. “I should have been there a little better against Greg. I was actually set up to be a little bit better than a .020 but there are a lot of variables that go into a reaction time and things were just a little bit different up there.

“I’m pleased with the weekend. I’m pleased with my driving. I’m ready to keep knocking the rust off. It’s always hard when you’re out of the car for three months. If you’re a pro golfer, you don’t go three months without picking up a club, but that’s what we all deal with every year. We’ll get back in the groove. I’m just excited to be going rounds again on Sunday.”

The second stop of the year, the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, take place Feb. 24-26 at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz.

“All three of the Elite Motorsports Elite Performance powered cars are running really well and I think you can expect to see a lot out of all three of us,” Enders said. “It’s going to be a long year, it’s going to be a great year. I chose to believe that we’ll be on top at the end.”

Championship-winning crew chief Rickie Jones to leave NHRA circuit in 2017

ee-jones

POMONA, CA – Elite Motorsports crew chief Rickie Jones will step back from his duties with the championship-winning NHRA Pro Stock team to focus on his family in 2017.

Jones, the son of veteran crew chief/chassis builder Rick Jones, was an integral part of Erica Enders’ 2014-15 Pro Stock world championships.

“My wife Sarah and I want to start a family and have children,” Rickie Jones said. “That’s harder to do when you’re gone as much as this series demands.

“I’ve been blessed way beyond my wildest dreams to work with Erica and Richard Freeman and the entire Elite team, and I’ll still do that to a degree. But family comes first, and I look forward to spending a lot more time with Sarah as we start this new chapter in our lives.”

Jones, 29, helped guide Enders to 15 race wins and the 2014-15 championships in her first two seasons with the team. Enders, in fact, replaced him as driver at Elite Motorsports – after Jones won the 2013 season-finale at Pomona, Calif. Rickie and Sarah Jones were married in October 2014.

The affable Jones will continue to work at RJ Race Cars and Quarter-Max Chassis and Racing Components in Galesburg, Ill., the companies he and his father own. RJ Race Cars builds the race cars Elite Motorsports uses in NHRA, as well as several other cars for a variety of customers. Jones also pointed to a recent surge in demand for Street Rods and other custom work.

“Rickie has been an invaluable member of Elite Motorsports for many years, and we fully support his decision,” Elite team owner Richard Freeman said. “Elite Motorsports isn’t just a race team, it’s a family, and Rickie and Sarah are a part of that family. We all wish him nothing but the best.

Freeman said the team has no need to hire a replacement for Jones, as existing crew chiefs Rick Jones, Mark Ingersoll and Brian “Lump” Self will lead the three-car team in 2017.

Driver Enders offered her thoughts on Jones’ departure. “Rickie means the world to me, and I’ll definitely miss him at the race track,” Enders said. “He’s a man with a deep faith in God, and he was always an inspiration to me. I wish him and Sarah the best. I know we’ll still see a lot of him.”

Jones’ father will have the biggest adjustment to make as he’s always raced with Rickie by his side.

“He and I have been real tight forever,” Rick Jones said. “He’s been coming to the racetrack since he was a baby so it’s all he knows. We raced together for many years and we’ve had a lot of really good times. It’s a little sad I won’t have him with me next year but I’m going to go on, at least for one more year and Rickie’s going to stay home, run the business and start a family.

Rickie and Sarah want to start a family and my wife Bonnie and I are really looking forward to that. We’ve always been so proud of him. There are really going to be a lot of good things ahead and we are very excited about the future.”

Enders-Stevens crowned 2014 Pro Stock champion after NHRA Finals win

Erica Enders-Stevens hoists NHRA Championship trophy

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 16) — Taking fate into her own hands, Erica Enders-Stevens not only captured her sixth win of the season at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals but also the title of 2014 NHRA Pro Stock World Champion.

Surpassing Larry Morgan and Rodger Brogdon in the first two rounds of competition, Enders-Stevens’ Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro continued to step up round after round. But after both her and Jonathan Gray had perfect .000 lights in the semifinals, it was obvious Enders-Stevens wasn’t going down without a fight, advancing to the final round with a 6.494-second pass.

With the championship on the line during the final-round matchup against Jason Line, Enders-Stevens sealed the deal. Both drivers turned on the red bulb, implementing the “first or worst” rule, and Enders-Stevens’ -.002 reaction time beat out Line’s -.011 and secured her first season title.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Enders-Stevens said, “and that’s perfect proof that with the right group of people anything is possible and that’s all through God. I’ve got the right group, a group that stands behind me, and we have a blast together. That’s what it’s all about. Win, lose, or draw we love each other and that’s all that matters.”

Enders-Stevens beats Jason Line for 2014 Pro Stock Championship

Already with numerous accomplishments in the record books, Enders-Stevens joins Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey on an elite list of female NHRA champions.

“They are heroes of mine,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m so thankful for their help and support in this venture. It means a lot to me to have my name on a list with Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey. They’re incredible racers and incredible women.

“What a blessing; this is awesome.”

Starting the dream season with a fresh start at Elite Motorsports, Enders-Stevens always knew that they were capable of going all the way. Her win in Pomona proved that.

“I definitely grew a lot,” Enders-Stevens said. “I learned a lot, I became better, and so did our team. I have them to thank for that. It was a long, hard year. I had to sit out two races and we were still able to accomplish this dream, and it says a lot of what we’re capable of. The sky is the limit.

“We’ve got a lot of great things happening for 2015, and I just couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”

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.”

Erica Enders-Stevens Captures Hometown Pro Stock Win in Houston

Erica Enders-Stevens Houston Winner Circle

BAYTOWN, TX — Ten years after her first national event win as a sportsman in Super Gas, Erica Enders-Stevens returned to the winner’s circle at Royal Purple Raceway Sunday for her first Pro Stock win at her home track.

The number two qualified Enders-Stevens faced number one qualifier and friend Allen Johnson in a rematch of this season’s Gainesville final during the 27th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals outside of Houston, Texas.

“I had to get him back for Gainesville,” said Enders-Stevens. “Allen and I and [Allen’s wife] Pam had breakfast on Friday morning for Pam’s birthday. We talked about how cool it would be to qualify 1-2 and go to the finals and we did just that with the Good Lord’s blessing. Doing it on a holeshot makes it that much sweeter. He got me on a holeshot in Gainesville.”

Erica’s Elite Motorsports Camaro shot out of the gate early in qualifiying, going to the top of the field during the opening session, but missing out on the number one spot late Friday when Allen Johnson posted a best 6.555 to her overall best 6.562.

However, Erica’s Elite Motorsports Camaro continued to run to the top with two more passes Saturday in the 6.56’s (6.562 and 6.568) that would have her as the fastest car for three of the four qualifying sessions. That consistency would be crucial for Sunday’s race in front of a hometown crowd, family, friends and sponsors.

During first round of eliminations against Matt Hartford, Erica came out swinging, cutting a sharp .006 second reaction time and running the lowest ET of the round with a 6.578 at 211.26 mph.

Her next two rounds meant defeating multi-time champions Jason Line and Jeg Coughlin Jr. to make it to the finals. With lane choice in her favor, she swiftly moved through Line with a 6.577 second pass to his 6.639, then advanced over Jeg after he fouled out with a -.004 red light. Erica’s semifinal ET of 6.584 was just one-thousandth quicker than Johnson’s 6.585, giving her lane choice for the finals.

With the threat rain showers looming, the event’s paced sped up and teams rushed to get cars prepped and to the staging lanes. There was a moment of tension when officials motioned to start and Johnson made his way to the right lane while Erica and her team scrambled under the tower.

“We were thrashing,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had to make a last minute transmission change and go through the gears and make sure everything was right. We got up here and A.J. already was in his car buckled up and I had not even had my firesuit pulled up yet. I was getting in, my clutch can was still open, my hood scoop was still in, I was still hooked up to the golf cart, and you want to talk about pressure and craziness. It was very intense. I was pulling up into the water box and A.J. had already done his burnout and backed up. Fortunately enough I was able to focus and get done what we needed to get done. I thanked Allen down at the top end for waiting as long as he could because he didn’t have to. My guys once again gave me a really great Chevy Camaro to drive to the winners circle.”

hou-wally

Her focus would be key as Erica beat Allen on a holeshot. Her .018 reaction time and 6.594 at 210.60 mph elapsed time was enough to hold of Johnson’s .044 reaction and 6.588 at 210.28 mph pass to capture her 8th career victory.

“I have never won Indy, so I don’t know what that feels like and I have never won the Championship, but this one rates right up there,” Enders-Stevens said. “This one is as important to me as Indy probably is to all the other drivers.”

The importance was obvious by the number of people gathered in the winner’s circle. Family, including her sister, Courtney, and their father, Gregg, as well as husband Richie Stevens and his family were all in attendance. Close friends from childhood and from years spent at the racetrack, as well as those of the Elite Motorsports crew and sponsors joined in and huddled together for photos.

New sponsors Mark Stockseth, Lloyd and Linda Wofford of Engines, Inc. and Steven and Kim Bruno of United Mechanical all saw their first race of the season result in a Wally, and sponsor Royal Purple celebrated a win at the track that bears their name, adding to the festivities and capping off a successful weekend.

Erica is looking to keep the success coming, thanks to an Elite Motorsports team that continues to deliver a dominant car capable of the speed and consistency necessary to hold on to the points lead and win.

“My team’s been really awesome,” said Enders-Stevens. “I’ve had a really consistent race car. That’s what it takes Sundays, consistency. The ball’s in our court. We’ve got to carry the momentum. That’s important in this game, and I know I keep saying that, but it’s huge, and we’re going to keep carrying it as long as we can. Pro Stock really goes in cycles, so I’m really hoping this is our cycle, and we’re going to keep fighting for it.”

They’ll put that consistency to the test when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, GA for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals May 16th-18th.

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