Posts Tagged Englishtown

Epping winner Erica Enders racing for back-to-back victories in Pro Stock

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 10) — Two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders will begin her quest for back-to-back victories on the NHRA tour out of the No. 9 position in the elimination field of the 48th annual NHRA Summernationals. Enders coaxed a best of 6.598 at 210.54 mph out of her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro in the fourth and final qualifying session.

“We ran our best pass in the final round so we finally have this thing working right this weekend,” Enders said. “It’s crazy how you can go from one race to the next and the car reacts so differently but that’s the way it’s been for us. God bless my crew guys because they have worked extremely hard this weekend to get us straight.”

Because there are only 14 Pro Stock cars on the property, the usual 16-car elimination ladder has been modified, pitting Enders against her Elite Motorsports teammate, No. 6 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr., who had a best pass of 6.589 seconds at 210.64 mph.

“You never want to race your teammate unless it’s in the finals,” Enders said. “Jeggie has been good all year and we obviously know what that JEGS.com car can do, even in the heat here this weekend. Both of us are very close as far as our qualifying times go so it should be a driver’s race. We’ll see who gets bragging rights for the next few days.

“We’ve had a different kind of weekend so far. Q1 I had a really crazy burnout but I kept my foot in it because we didn’t want to lose the round. We ended up running a 6.63. In Q2 the thing shook really hard so I had to give up the run. Today it was hotter but we closed in on the tune-up with a 6.61 and then the 6.59. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Interestingly, despite Old Bridge Township Raceway Park being one of her favorite tracks, Enders has only raced as far as the semifinals on just one occasion here. She’ll try to remedy that stat Sunday.

“Yeah, I’m not sure why we’ve struggled here, even in my championship years,” Enders said. “It’s just been one of those tracks for us, but it doesn’t mean anything. We’ve had other tracks where we thought the same thing but then we go there and win so over time we know these things work themselves out.

“Right now we’re focused on improving what we did in qualifying and we think there is room to do that so we’re excited.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will feature live elimination coverage from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Sunday. There also will be an elimination show running from 6-7:30 p.m., Sunday evening. (Times are local and subject to change.)

NHRA’s most recent winner, two-time champ Erica Enders, hungry for more

Erica Enders | NHRA New England Nationals 2017

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. — Fresh off her impressive victory Sunday afternoon in New Hampshire, two-time world champion Erica Enders is anxious to keep the ball rolling and score another win at this weekend’s 48th annual NHRA Summernationals.

“We’re all really excited coming off of the win in Epping,” Enders said. “It certainly gives all of us on this Elite Motorsports team a boost of confidence and everyone knows momentum is important in this game so we’ll see if we can carry it into E-town. I’m so ready to race; I wish qualifying started today.”

Enders drove like a true pro in Epping, beating reigning series champ Jason Line and red-hot Bo Butner with back-to-back holeshots to reach the 37th professional final of her career. With the trophy on the line, Enders dropped the hammer on rookie Tanner Gray and won going away, taking the stripe by six feet.

“I’m so proud of the way my team performed on race day,” Enders said. “We had quick turnarounds because of TV and a lot of work had to get done every round. I had Kyle (Bates) and Casey (Gardner) from my teammate Jeg Coughlin’s team jump right in and help us on Sunday. It was a real team effort to get to the winner’s circle.

“I think it’s so awesome that we have three different jerseys at Elite Motorsports but it’s truly one team. It’s a unique atmosphere to work in, for sure. I’m so blessed to be one of the drivers. Tough times don’t last but tough people do. That’s what we have at Elite. We are Elite for a reason.”

Prior to the start of the race on Wednesday afternoon, Enders and her sister Courtney Lambert will be the featured athletes at special event at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The fete is a celebration of 25 years of Junior Dragster racing. The Enders sisters started their careers in the Junior Dragster ranks and were so successful that Disney made a movie entitled “Right On Track” about their time in the class.

“I’ve told the story many times but I can still clearly remember being in the garage with my dad when he was working on his hot rod and I flipped through the National Dragster on the work bench and read a story about Junior Dragsters,” Enders said. “I was like, ‘look Dad, kids as young as 8 years old can race these things! Can I get one?’ My life was pretty much changed forever that day.

“It’s so cool to see how popular Junior Dragsters have become and I am always so proud of the kids that come over to meet me and show me pictures of their dragsters. I’ve watched so many of them grow up over the years and it’s cool to see them year after year in the various towns where we race. I am forever indebted to the Junior Dragster series.”

Four Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:45 and 6:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:45 and 4:15 p.m., Saturday. Sudden-death eliminations will begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will feature live coverage of Saturday’s qualifying action from 2-4 p.m., Saturday, followed by live elimination coverage from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Sunday. There also will be an elimination show running from 6-7:30 p.m., Sunday. (Times are local and subject to change.)

Rough launch negates Erica Enders’ chance at Englishtown glory

Erica Enders | Englishtown, NJ 2016 NHRA

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — Two-time and reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders did something very few drivers have managed to do over the years: leave the starting line ahead of five-time series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. But despite her quick start — an .038 reaction time to Coughlin’s .046 start — her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart began to rattle its giant rear slicks right away, allowing teammate Coughlin to pass her in the first few feet of the race and streak away fro the victory.

Enders fought to get her car under control and did manage to finish her pass with an elapsed time of 6.812 at 206.70 mph, but Coughlin was too far ahead, crossing with a 6.708 at 207.56 mph.

“We’re analyzing the data right now,” Enders said. “We’re still a work in progress. It’s tough to take at times because we certainly got used to winning these last two years, but I know I’ve got the best team in the world and I’m completely positive we’ll get these cars figured out.

“Jeg is running better and Vincent (Nobile, teammate) is really doing well, so all the indicators are there that we’re gaining ground. It’s not happening fast enough for my liking but I’m working on my patience. The good Lord only gives us what we can handle, and we’ve been so blessed the last two years that we will not complain one bit.”

Up next for Enders and crew is the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, which start Friday at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee.

“I’m pumped for Bristol because we’ve won that race the last two years,” Enders said. “We’re going to get our stuff together one of these days and Bristol would be the perfect spot to do it. Having a trophy to give my dad (Gregg Enders) the last two years was really special and continuing the streak would be super rewarding.

“We will continue to try our best. There is no quit in this pit.”

Today’s eliminations will air from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1.

Englishtown yields top-half qualifying result for reigning champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | Englishtown, NJ 2016

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — Reigning two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders successfully qualified her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart in the top half of the eliminations field for the third time this year with a pass of 6.617 seconds at 209.20 mph down Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is she now faces teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations, a task she’d rather have saved for later in the day.

“We picked up our qualifying a little bit but we have to race Jeg, so that’s not how we would have drawn it up if we had the chance,” Enders said. “I guess the good news is, like Jeg told me, at least one of us is sure to move on to the quarterfinals.

“It’s no secret we both want more out of our Dodges. Our teammate, Vincent Nobile, is running really good now, and we just need to get my and Jeg’s cars on par with his. He qualified third last weekend and is fourth here. More importantly, he’s right on the heels of the three KB Racing cars, so we can see we’re gaining ground.”

Enders’ second title defense has been somewhat of a struggle with only a semifinal and two quarterfinal results to show for the team’s efforts to date, but the native Texan says no one is down; in fact, quite the opposite.

“It’s become sort of a running game to see what we can do each week to make gains in our performance,” Enders said. “You can’t beat yourself up about it because it doesn’t do any good. You’re still in the same place you were when you started.

“The guys that built my motors the last two years when we won two championships and a boatload of individual races are still the same guys that build my motors now. The crew guys that prepped my race cars the last two years haven’t changed. My crew chiefs didn’t forget how to tune race cars. You just have to remember we switched manufacturers on a year when the NHRA made some of the biggest changes in class history. You can’t just flip a switch and everything works perfectly.”

Last off-season, NHRA mandated a change from carburetors to electronic full injection. They also shortened the wheelie bars and limited rpms.

“We’ll get where we need to be,” Enders said. “I wouldn’t change a thing about where we are and the guys I have around me.”

FOX Sports 1 will carry Friday and Saturday’s qualifying action from 9 to 11 a.m., Sunday. Eliminations will air from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sunday.

Chemistry remains strong for Pro Stock champ Erica Enders and Elite Motorsports

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ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — From her first day behind the wheel of an Elite Motorsports race car, Erica Enders knew she was in a special situation.

Chemistry between Enders and her race team was solid on that first day and has only continued to grow. So despite some struggles during the 2016 season, Enders and her team remain a tight-knit group as they head to the NHRA Summernationals this weekend at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Enders won the 2014 and 2015 Pro Stock championships with Elite, going to the winner’s circle 15 times over that span. Why? People.

“I attribute most of our success to personnel, absolutely,” Enders said. “My guys build great horsepower, and my crew chiefs build a fantastic race car. But what we have is so unique and so special. Even through these hard times right now, it’s not wavered, not one bit.

“We used to say, ‘Horsepower is a great deodorant.’ But when things aren’t going right, it’s easy for people to have a shorter fuse and snap at one another.”

That hasn’t happened this season as Enders and her team develop a new Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge.

“We still have a blast,” Enders said. “Does it stink not to run well? Absolutely. Are we mad we come back? Yeah, but it doesn’t change the bond that we have. It just makes us want to dig deeper and work harder. I wouldn’t pick anyone else in the entire world. I choose to spend my free time with these guys. They’re absolutely amazing, and I’m forever indebted to Richard (Freeman). He could’ve picked anybody, and he picked me.”

Team owner Freeman sets the tone for the solid team chemistry, hiring a group of people who work well together and have fun.

“I feel like people are the most important part of the puzzle,” Enders said. “Yeah, you need a good race car and good horsepower, but you can’t buy what we have. That’s what’s so cool about it. Every team out here has to be a little envious of what we have in that aspect, and that makes me proud.”

From crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll to engine builders Jake Hairston and Nick Ferri to crewmembers Chase Freeman, Robert Freeman, Royce Lee Freeman, and Brett McGehee, Enders’ team remains close.

“You couldn’t have hand-picked a better program,” Enders said. “I can thank Richard Freeman for that. He’s a really good judge of character, and he picked each and every one of us and put us together. I knew from the first test session we had together before the season opener in 2014 that it was different.

“I walked on the pit mat, and everything was different. It was fun, we were laughing, and we were doing well together.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:45 and 6:15 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1:45 and 4:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action from 9 to 11 a.m., Sunday. Eliminations will air from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sunday.

Pro Stock leader Erica Enders anxious to challenge for fourth win of the year

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — After winning three of the last four races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, reigning Pro Stock champion and current points leader Erica Enders would be a favorite no matter where she qualified for this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Summernationals. Fortunately, her Elite Motorsports Camaro is running as well as she has been driving, setting the table for another potential victory celebration at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

“Our confidence and attitude is certainly in the right place after winning three of the last four races,” Enders said. “At the same time, past performances mean nothing in drag racing. You have to prove yourself each and every round, each and every race, so we’ll be ready to do that.”

Enders qualified third with a 6.500 at 213.60 mph, which means she’ll begin elimination racing with lane choice against No. 14 qualifier Alan Prusiensky (6.615 at 210.50 mph). So far this year, Enders has won from the first, second, and fourth starting slots.

“Consistency is the key in drag racing, and that’s especially the case in Pro Stock because every race seems to be decided by just a few thousandths of a second,” Enders said. “We know our capabilities and the three guys tuning this RacingInRed.com Camaro are the best in the business, so I know I’ll sleep well tonight.

“Race day always gets me excited, and when you’re on a hot streak that feeling is amplified. We tested some extra things today and feel like we have the perfect combination to go rounds tomorrow. That’s the plan.”

Although she has accumulated 15 professional victories — just three shy of legend Shirley Muldowney’s 18-win career mark — Enders hasn’t found ultimate success at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park to date. That’s something she’d like to change Sunday.

“I’m not sure why we’ve struggled here,” Enders said. “We did set the national speed record last year here, so that was cool, but otherwise I’ve never had a perfect weekend at Old Bridge. My husband Richie (Stevens, fellow Pro Stock racer) has done real well here, so we talked a lot about this track during the week. I hope some of his mojo rubbed off on me.

“The Napp family (track owners) have made this place such a special stop on the tour. They’re old Jr. Dragster racers like me, and I’d love to visit their winner’s circle. It’s such an historic race, definitely one I’d like to win.”

Eliminations for Pro Stock are slated to begin around noon ET. ESPN2 will carry all the racing action Sunday afternoon.

Erica Enders stays hot, puts Elite Motorsports Chevy at top of Pro Stock chart

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ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports team continue to pace the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class, speeding to the provisional No. 1 qualifier at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals on Friday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Enders was quickest in all three qualifying sessions and all four rounds of eliminations in winning at Heartland Park Topeka two weeks ago for her third victory in the last four races.

In the second qualifying session Friday in Englishtown, Enders’ pass of 6.508 seconds at 213.06 mph put the 2014 Pro Stock champion at the top of the chart.

“We just feel like we’re getting a better handle on the tire and the fuel,” Enders said. “I know I talk about that a lot, but it’s been a true challenge for everyone in the class. With our new race car, we’re applying those changes and learning the best we can from the data we’ve acquired. It’s all going in the right direction.

“Pro Stock goes in spurts and waves, and I know that, but right now we’re doing really well as a team. We’re having fun, most importantly, and that contributes a lot to our on-track success.”

While Enders’ streak of having low elapsed time in each round ended at seven, she bounced back from a 6.550-second run that was sixth-quickest in Q1 to take the top spot.

“In the first run, we were just way too conservative,” Enders said. “We went out there in Q2 and just got after it. I knew when I un-clutched it that we were on a good run. It just speaks volumes of my crew chiefs and what they’re capable of.

“Of course, they’re perfectionists, so when we got back to the trailer, they were like, ‘We should’ve done this, done that.’ We’re excited about tomorrow and proud of what we accomplished today.”

Enders was helped by better weather conditions in Q2, as temperatures dropped, but air conditions improved, too.

“The second session was definitely a little bit better,” Enders said. “In Pro Stock, we look at barometer mostly, how many water grains are in the air, humidity, so it was a little bit better on that run. We knew going into today that it wasn’t going to be record-setting conditions.”

And conditions tomorrow may not be any better, when the final two qualifying sessions are scheduled.

“It’s supposed to be seven degrees warmer, so we’re just going to have to watch the barometer closely and see what happens,” Enders said. “It should be OK, and if that’s the case, we’re going to do a little testing tomorrow and see if we can better ourselves for Sunday.”

Record setter Erica Enders returns to Englishtown on a roll

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ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — No one was faster during the 2014 Toyota NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park than Erica Enders, and no one is more excited to return for this year’s event.

Enders and her Elite Motorsports team set the national elapsed time and speed records in Englishtown a year ago, 6.464 seconds and 215.55 mph, and she still holds the speed mark.

“There’s a lot of history at Raceway Park,” said Enders, the 2014 Pro Stock champion. “I’m excited to go back because we set both ends of the national record there for e.t. and mph. The e.t. record was just broken by Jason (Line) in Charlotte, but we still hold the mph record. Definitely some fond memories there for me: My husband Richie (Stevens) has won there a handful of times, so it’s a lucky track for him.”

Plus, Englishtown is a favorite stop for Pro Stock competitors because fans in the area truly love the class.

“It’s Pro Stock country up there,” Enders said. “People there love Pro Stock, so it’s always exciting to get back to a racetrack where the whole grandstands want to see us race. The back of the pits are packed, and you get a lot of educated questions. It’s nice.”

Weather may not allow for record-setting runs this year, but Enders should still be among the fastest drivers. She is coming off a victory at Heartland Park Topeka, where she was the quickest in all three rounds of qualifying and in all four rounds of eliminations. The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 80s this weekend with a slight chance for rain.

“Englishtown and Reading are always two of the most likely tracks to have weather conditions conducive for record-setting runs,” Enders said. “If the conditions are there, I definitely put our money on us. We’ve certainly got a good handle on our hot rod right now, and I’ve been driving really well. We’ll see what the good Lord deals us with the weather, and we’ll go up there and do our best.

“Record or not, our goal is to win the race. Coming off a win in Topeka, I’m very excited to get back behind the wheel.”

The Topeka victory put Enders back on top in the points standings for the second time this season, and she leads Line by 58 points, but this is no time to be counting points, Enders said.

“It’s always exciting to lead the points, but it’s a long season,” Enders said. “We’re only a third of the way through it, and we’ve got a lot of races left. There are a lot of tough competitors out there in Pro Stock, and it’s going to come down to the wire. With the Countdown format, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to get very far ahead. We were 250 points ahead last year, and it came down to the final round of the final race.”

Qualifying for the Toyota NHRA Summernationals takes place at 3:45 and 6:15 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Elimination racing begins at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all of the action.

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