Posts Tagged Elite Motorsports

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.”

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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.

Video: Erica Makes Test Pass in Elite Motorsports Pro Stock Camaro

In-car GoPro footage from day 2 of pre-season Pro Stock testing from Wild Horse Motorsports Park in Phoenix:

Enders-Stevens accepts deal to drive for Elite Motorsports

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HOUSTON (Nov. 21) – Popular drag racer Erica Enders-Stevens, the most prolific female driver in Pro Stock history, has joined Elite Motorsports for the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Enders-Stevens will drive the team’s new Camaro, which will be tuned by the father/son duo of Rick and Rickie Jones, with in-house horsepower crafted by Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston.

“I’m really excited to start this next chapter of my career,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s hard to believe that 2014 will be my 10th year in Pro Stock but it’s true. We want to make it our best year yet, and we’re all going to be working very hard towards that goal.

“The last three years we’ve been in contention for the championship very late in the season, and we expect to be there again with Elite Motorsports. Rickie just won the NHRA Finals, so it’s obvious they have all the pieces in place to be successful.

“I’m sad to leave Victor Cagnazzi. We have worked together for the majority of my Pro Stock career, and I will always be appreciative of Victor and his wife Brita. I certainly value our relationship. The deal Richard (Freeman, team owner of Elite Motorsports) offered assures me a full-time ride in his top car, so at this point in my career I thought it was the best move for me to make.”

Enders-Stevens has fought hard to earn her place in the drag racing world during her nine seasons in the factory hot rod class. Despite running partial schedules at times, she has successfully qualified for 102 national events, won six Wallys in 17 final-round appearances, and been the No. 1 qualifier on six occasions. All of those marks represent records for female competitors in the category.

Following a successful Jr. Dragster and Sportsman career, Enders-Stevens made an immediate impact in the Pro ranks due in large part to her immense popularity, which was a result of the Disney Channel movie Right on Track, chronicling her and her sister Courtney’s time racing in Jr. Dragster. For the first time ever, young girls were dragging their fathers into the Pro Stock pits to meet their on-screen hero in person.

And Enders-Stevens didn’t disappoint on the track, racing to the final round in Chicago during her rookie campaign with Victor Cagnazzi Racing. She later collaborated with her father Gregg Enders, purchasing a turnkey race operation from Don Schumacher Racing before moving to Jim Cunningham Motorsports, where she attempted to resurrect the Ford brand in Pro Stock. She returned to Cagnazzi in 2011.

Her next three seasons were filled with career highlights, including her first victory, her first foray into the playoffs, and her first top-10 ranking. She has now finished in the top 10 in three consecutive seasons with a best of fourth place in 2012.

“I’ve been so blessed to have had the opportunities I’ve had so far,” said Enders-Stevens, who finished sixth in 2013. “For many years I got to race with my dad, which was something we always dreamed about when I was younger and something I’d love to do again some day. I’ve also raced on my own and, although it hasn’t always been easy, I love this sport so much that I’ve fought to stay out here. The support I’ve received from my dad and the rest of my family, my longtime friends, and all of the wonderful fans out there have made it all worthwhile.

“This new start with Richard and Elite Motorsports is exciting for me. I hope I can repay their faith in me by being competitive and chasing after another championship.”

The team plans to test extensively in Florida prior to the season-opening NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 6-9, at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

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