Posts Tagged Epping

Erica Enders returns to her winning ways with impressive Epping victory

Erica Enders | 2017 New England Nationals - Epping, NH

EPPING, NH — Erica Enders raced to her first victory of the electronic fuel injection era Sunday at New England Dragway with an impressive run through a gauntlet of 2017 winners in her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. It was the two-time champion’s first win since the 2015 fall race in Las Vegas, a span of 35 national events.

“People always ask which win means the most and right now I can’t imagine one meaning more than this,” Enders said. “What a huge relief. What a special moment for all of us on this Elite Motorsports team. Money can buy a lot of things but you can’t buy the drive to win this group has inside them.

“This is for my crew. This is for Rick Jones, the best crew chief in the sport. This is for Richard Freeman (team owner) for never giving up on us. Other wins have meant other things, but this one will always be very special.”

Flashing the same driving prowess that earned her historic back-to-back Mello Yello titles in 2014 and 2015, as well as 15 victories during the same two-year stretch, Enders beat reigning world champion and Pomona winner Jason Line, Houston and Atlanta victor Bo Butner, and Las Vegas and Topeka titlist Tanner Gray to pick up her 22nd national event Wally.

After an unopposed opening round, Enders didn’t have the advantage of lane choice in her final three races, but she overcame the deficit with raw driving skill. Her wins over Line and Butner came via holeshots, meaning she used a better reaction time at the starting line to win those races, even though she posted slower elapsed times. By the final, the Elite team had their car in perfect trim, and she beat Gray from end to end.

“I didn’t want to give up anything today,” Enders said. “In fact, I wanted to have my best day behind the wheel that I’ve ever had. I have always prided myself on what I can do in the driver’s seat and today I feel like I gave it all I have. Aside from Round 1, it was a really tough battle every round.”

The day started with Enders getting an unexpected free pass after Round 1 opponent Shane Tucker failed to make the call due to an expired motor. She went on to run a 6.551 at 212.90 mph.

Enders then got a .014-second jump on Line at the start of their quarterfinal tilt but unexpectedly gave up the lead around the 330-foot timer. She then drove back around the champ at 1,000 feet and took the win by a scant nine inches. The final numbers showed Enders winning with a 6.574 at 212.09 mph to Line’s 6.562 at 211.53 mph.

“That ended up being the closest race of the day,” Enders said. “But at the time, as pumped up as you are, you know you’re only halfway to your goal.”

Another great reaction time of .008 seconds against Butner, who had a sluggish .046 light, earned Enders a second holeshot win in the semifinals, with her 6.553 at 212.73 mph putting her six feet ahead of Butner’s 6.533 at 212.33 mph.

“Bo beat us in the Atlanta final so I guess we’re even now,” Enders said. “He’s been so good all year. That was another huge round win right there because that team has been so strong.”

Digging deep with the trophy up for grabs, Enders improved to 2-0 versus Gray by winning their head-to-head finale straight up, leaving the starting line first and arriving at the finish line with a 6.534 at 213.16 mph to Gray’s trailing 6.550 at 212.06 mph.

“The feeling of seeing the win light come on is something that’s impossible to describe,” Enders said. “Even in 2015 when we won nine times, I still felt extremely blessed for every win we earned. It’s always going to be that way because it’s so hard to do.

“The entire Elite team is ready to explode. I hope this opens the flood gates and we start winning a bunch more. I know Jeg (Coughlin) and Vincent (Nobile, teammates) are anxious to get theirs as well.”

Up next is the 48th annual NHRA Summernationals, beginning Friday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

Current Elite Motorsports Camaro reminds Erica Enders of her two championship cars

Erica Enders | NHRA New England Nationals 2017

EPPING, NH — Erica Enders matched her provisional No. 1 qualifying effort from Friday night in Saturday’s first session at New England Dragway, running an identical 6.513-second elapsed time at a slight faster 213.16 mph to end up second in the elimination field of the fifth annual NHRA New England Nationals.

The impressive run, followed by a 6.518 at 212.69 mph in the final session, proves Enders’ Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is a very consistent racecar. In fact, she says the reliability of her Rick Jones-built chassis reminds her a lot of the two cars she and her Elite crew used to win 15 nationals events and back-to-back Pro Stock world titles in 2014 and 2015.

“We’ve definitely got a consistent racecar on our hands,” Enders said. “Being consistent, and obviously very quick, is exactly how we won our two championships, so we are absolutely buzzing over here right now.

“Three runs all in the 6.51-second range says a lot about the horsepower Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston have been making back at the shop, and I give a bunch of credit to the guys for putting it all together this weekend. We are having fun and it feels great to know we are running at the top of the charts again.”

With only 14 cars in attendance this weekend, the modified elimination ladder has Enders lining up against Australian racer Shane Tucker, a longtime friend. Tucker maxed out with a 6.712 at 202.52, which placed him 13th on the race day grid. The two have not raced one another since 2014.

“Looking at the data briefly after the last run and comparing it to the two .513s we ran, Rick (Jones, crew chief) thinks there is more in it so we may be able to step it up tomorrow,” Enders said. “It’s supposed to be slightly warmer than today, more like what we had Friday, so we’ll prepare for what we expect to see and adjust from there.

“This program has been moving in the right direction all season and it hasn’t felt this good in a while so we’re all extremely happy. Now it’s time to go out there and execute. We were in the final two races ago (in Atlanta) and Jeg (Coughlin, teammate) was in the final at the last race in Topeka and also in Houston, so we’re due for a breakthrough win any time now.”

Coughlin and fellow Elite Motorsports driver Vincent Nobile are slated to race one another in Round 1, assuring at least one Elite car will advance to the quarterfinals. Should Enders and either Coughlin or Nobile win their first two elimination races, there could be an all-Elite semifinal battle for a spot in the finals.

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air elimination action beginning at 4:30 p.m., Sunday. (Times are local and subject to change).

Two-Time Pro Stock World Champ Erica Enders Eyeing Epping for First Win of 2017

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Topeka 2017

EPPING, NH — Two-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders doesn’t put much faith into racing luck. Her years at Texas A&M’s Mays School of Business taught her to be much more analytical in her thoughts, something she will continue to apply this weekend at the fifth annual NHRA New England Nationals in New Hampshire.

“The Pro Stock class goes in cycles,” Enders said. “Since the beginning of the class 30-something years ago, it’s been very cyclical. Certain drivers get on top, stay there for a period of time, and then someone else comes along and has their time. There may have been less races in the past so the cycles seem longer in the history books, but when you count the events, it balances out pretty evenly.

“We had an incredible run, especially in 2014 and 2015 when we won our two championships and 15 races, but then last year another group came along and had their time. The only changes to the cycles come from the fact there are so many multi-car teams nowadays. But if you replace teams with individual drivers from the past, the cycles are very similar.”

Racing out of the Elite Motorsports camp, Enders has three title-contending teammates in Jeg Coughlin Jr., Vincent Nobile, and Alex Laughlin. She firmly believes her group will resume control of the class very soon, and points to the overall success Elite drivers have had this year.

“Jeg was in the finals at the last race in Kansas and that was his second final of the year,” she said. “We’ve all qualified well and had our moments. The overall performance definitely is there. We just need to get all our ducks in a row at one race.

“I look at this team and I know we’ve got the horsepower, I know we’re driving great racecars, no doubt we have the best people in the business wrenching on these cars, and I usually drive pretty well. When the pendulum swings, we’ll be unstoppable again, and it could swing at any time. We’re right there.”

Enders says New England Dragway would be a perfect place to have the first all-Elite Motorsports final of the year, which would produce the first victory for the team since her win at the end of 2015 in Las Vegas.

“These races on the east coast are always fun because the fan base for our class is so substantial,” Enders said. “People in Epping and Englishtown love the factory hot rod class. They understand what it takes to make these cars go and they appreciate what we’re doing. Of everywhere we go, Epping and Englishtown are the two best stops for our class. They absolutely pack the stands every time we’re there and that makes us want to perform so much more.”

“I’m ready for our first win of the year and to do it in Epping would be awesome.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at 12 p.m., Sunday. First day qualifying action will be shown live at 7:30 p.m., Friday, on FOX Sports 1. Elimination action will be start at 4:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change).

‘Deadhead’ sinks Erica Enders’ chances at New England Nationals

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EPPING, NH — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders is no fan of the Grateful Dead, and after the NHRA New England Nationals on Sunday at New England Dragway, she’s even less so.

Followers of the legendary psychedelic rock band are called “Deadheads,” but that’s a term she’d rather not hear.

That’s because in drag racing, the term “deadhead” refers to an incorrect smashing of gears in the transmission, and it results in a slower than usual pass down the racetrack.

And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday in the semifinals after Enders had the quickest car on the property in the previous two rounds.

Good buddy Allen Johnson made a pass of 6.537 second at 213.33 mph, a run that Enders could have easily covered if she had matched her first- and second-round runs, but during her normal shifting procedure, Enders’ transmission deadheaded and her pass was 6.540 seconds at 214.21 mph. That gave Johnson a narrow victory to the final round.

“It’s disappointing, for sure,” Enders said. “Instead of the gears lining up and going into the right gear, it just misses when it’s supposed to align and it doesn’t shift. It’s no one’s fault and it happens every now and then in Pro Stock, but that doesn’t take the sting out of it.”

The 2014 Pro Stock champion, Enders had the dominant car on Sunday in Epping. She qualified No. 4, but crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll tuned the red Chevrolet Camaro to a pass of 6.513 at 214.69 mph in the first round against V. Gaines. That was the quickest and fastest pass of the round, and the speed broke Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s year-old track record.

She went even quicker in the next round against Vincent Nobile. While Nobile made a pass of 6.546 seconds at 213.47 mph, Enders blistered the track with a 6.506-second run at 214.66 mph to advance to the semifinals.

“It just wasn’t our day, but we had the quickest car on the property today thanks to my guys,” Enders said. “They’re the best guys out here, and I have complete faith in them all. We’ll be back in Bristol next week, and we’re the defending champions there, so our heads are held high.”

Next on the NHRA schedule is the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals next weekend at Bristol Dragway.

Reigning world champion drag racer Erica Enders expects excellence in Epping

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EPPING, NH — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports Pro Stock race team are expecting a memorable outing at this weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals, and the world champions have plenty of reason to be optimistic, including three victories in the last five races, three top qualifying efforts, and an enviable 20-6 race day mark in the first nine races of the season.

“Everything’s been clicking for us,” said Enders, a Houston native who now lives in New Orleans with her husband, fellow racer Richie Stevens. “We even switched to a new car a few races back but really didn’t miss a beat. In fact, we got even better. It speaks to the quality of work these guys put in every day. We expect the best from each other and they deliver it time after time.

“Our team owner, Richard Freeman, is really good at getting the best out of people and that attitude spreads throughout the team. We’re not cocky; we just know what we’re capable of, and we feel a huge responsibility to prove ourselves every weekend.”

Enders has chalked up national event wins in Las Vegas, Houston, and Topeka, Kan., this year. She also won the K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas, a special non-points event for the category’s top-eight teams from the last 12 months. Her three national event wins are the most in the Pro Stock class and tied for most in the pro ranks with Top Fuel’s Antron Brown and Funny Car’s Matt Hagan.

“I’m sure if you asked Antron and Matt they’d tell you the same thing, that whenever you win a Wally all you really want to do is win another one,” she said. “It’s addictive. It’s the best reward for the crew and the engine builders for all the long hours they put in to make me look good. I get on TV, but they’re the real heroes of this operation, no doubt.”

With 15 national event wins in her career, Enders is just three behind legendary nitro pilot and trailblazer Shirley Muldowney, a longtime idol who has become a great friend and confidant to the 31-year-old Enders.

“I’ve been hearing about Shirley’s mark lately because the media picks up on the numbers, but there is no comparing me and her,” Enders said. “What she went through back when she raced was really tough. She opened the door for girls like me to even know we had a chance to race. Plus, they didn’t run near as many races every year back then, so to compare her numbers to mine is crazy.

“Bottom line, Shirley will always be the first lady of drag racing. She is a great friend and someone I know I can call at any time of the day or night to ask her advice. Her and Angelle (Sampey) were such a big help last year when the championship battle got intense. I’m honored just to be mentioned alongside of them.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions will be held at 4:30 and 7 p.m. ET, Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast all the qualifying action from 7:30 to 10 p.m., Saturday, and the elimination rounds from 5 to 8 p.m., Sunday.

Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports Persevere at New England Nationals

Erica Enders-Stevens at New England Dragway

EPPING, NH — Last week’s winner and current Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens came up just short of bringing home her fourth win of the season at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.

Enders-Stevens put the pedal of her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro down when she ran a 6.518 at 212.73 mph against Larry Morgan to move on to the second round of final eliminations.

But round two was a dead heat between Enders-Stevens and Greg Anderson that ended with both recording 6.551 passes. However, Anderson’s .034 reaction compared to Enders-Stevens’ .046 ended her day earlier than expected.

“We went out and made a nice, clean run in the first round,” Enders-Stevens said. “Thankfully because of that first run we got lane choice for the second round. But when we got back to the pits we found out that we had hurt the motor. We had to thrash to take it out and get back up there in time for the second round. We made it in time but just didn’t get it done against Anderson. It just wasn’t our day to bring home the win but that won’t get us down.”

Even though Enders-Stevens was hoping to score back-to-back wins this weekend, she is still optimistic about how her Elite Motorsports team is working.

“All of the guys did a phenomenal job to turn the car around that fast,” Enders-Stevens said, “and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they put in to give me a great car. That’s not a situation anyone wants to be in during final eliminations but my guys worked their butts off. I do think, though, that if we hadn’t have changed motors before the second round we would have had Anderson beat at the line.”

Enders-Stevens will now turn her focus to prepare for her next race at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, June 26-29, at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago.

Enders-Stevens Hopes to Carry Consistency into Epping Eliminations

Erica Enders-Stevens New England Dragway

EPPING, NH — Erica Enders-Stevens was a model of consistency in four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.

“Yesterday was a really good day,” Enders-Stevens said. “The weather was conducive to some really fast runs. My team continues to give me a consistent race car, and we went 6.48 yesterday and were No. 2 again by two-thousandths, which was fine. I think that’s our seventh No. 2 of the year.”

Enders-Stevens’ quickest pass was a 6.489 at 213.98 mph, only four-thousandths of a second off Shane Gray’s 6.485. She’ll head into eliminations seeded No. 2 and will face Larry Morgan in the first round.

“I’m excited about tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said. “I think today the weather conditions were a little worse, but we were testing some new stuff, so still, even though we were testing we laid down two really nice clean runs and just were getting ready for Sunday.”

Enders-Stevens currently leads the Pro Stock standings with three wins on the season, including one at Bristol Dragway last weekend.

“Expectations are high, as they always are,” Enders-Stevens said. “Momentum is huge in this game, and coming off of a win in Bristol we’re just hoping to carry the momentum. As long as we stay consistent tomorrow, it’s going to be warmer and the track will tend to get a little trickier as it gets hotter, but I’ve got two of the best crew chiefs in the world and we’ll do our best and let God do the rest.”

Eliminations will start at noon, with tape-delay action of the first two rounds broadcast at 1 p.m. on Sunday and live coverage of the semifinals and finals at around 4 p.m. on ESPN.

Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports Team on a Roll Heading to Epping

Erica Enders-Stevens, Rick and Rickie Jones in Bristol

EPPING, NH — Fresh off a victory at Bristol Dragway, Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team will tackle New England Dragway for the first time during this weekend’s Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.

The inaugural race in Epping was held last year, but neither Enders-Stevens nor the Elite team raced that weekend.

“I’m looking forward to going to Epping,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been there before because that was one of the races last year we didn’t have any sponsorship. I’ve heard it was cool and the fans were great.

“We’ll try to carry the momentum from Bristol to there and see how it goes.”

The win in Bristol was her third of the season, and it increased her points lead in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class to 155. The team owned by Richard Freeman, with crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, has been fast at every track this season, so not racing last year in Epping is not a concern to Enders-Stevens.

“We don’t have any data there, but there’s not a racetrack anywhere that my crew chiefs can’t handle,” Enders-Stevens said. “They do a really good job with this race car, and I’m not worried about it at all. We’ll be fine. We’ll take it round by round and day by day.”

The Epping race is the second in a four-week stretch that can tax even the most well-prepared teams. Following Bristol and Epping, NHRA racers will compete in Chicago and Norwalk before getting a week off, then the three-race Western Swing begins.

“We’ve really prepared well for this stretch,” Enders-Stevens said. “The team has really worked hard and put in a lot of time at the shop. I like racing multiple races like this because you’re in the seat every weekend and you get more and more comfortable. I feel like I’m more on top of my job.

“Plus, we’ve got a fast hot rod right now, so my confidence as a driver is high and the morale of the team is terrific.”

Qualifying begins Friday with sessions at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. Eastern. The final two qualifying sessions will take place at 12:15 and 2:45 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN2 will have one hour of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m., Saturday, and a two-hour eliminations show at 2 p.m., Sunday.