Posts Tagged Finals

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders gunning for 10th victory of 2015

Erica Enders Pomona 2015 Auto Club Finals

POMONA, CA — Erica Enders has already captured the biggest prize in the Pro Stock class of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: the 2015 championship. But the two-time series champion is far from finished with the season. Enders is a nine-time winner in 2015, meaning she already holds the record for most wins in a season by a woman, but she wants No. 10.

“I’m proud that we locked the championship up last weekend,” Enders said. “But I’m going into tomorrow with the mindset that I want to win No. 10 on the season. That is my job, that is my goal, and that is what I will do.”

Enders, who clinched the championship during her victory in Las Vegas, qualified No. 2 for the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Saturday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with a stellar pass of 6.503 seconds at 213.33 mph.

“That was our first decent run of the weekend,” Enders said. “Obviously, that’s nice to be able to go to sleep on Saturday night with that run. (No. 1 qualifier) Greg (Anderson) made a killer run and he had us by a hundredth in the 60-foot, and that’s what he outran us by. We know where we need to improve.”

Enders starts her pursuit of victory No. 10 on Sunday against V. Gaines, who qualified No. 15 with a top pass of 6.570 seconds at 211.63 mph.

“We have a great race-day setup,” Enders said. “That’s something my guys are excellent at, giving me a fast, consistent race car on Sunday. We’ve proven all year that’s what it takes to win, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Enders will also keep an eye on Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman, who qualified No. 4 and is on opposite sides of the ladder from her. Skillman, the leading contender for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award as the NHRA’s top rookie, is fourth in the points standings but has a shot at finishing second.

Enders is also looking to cap a spectacular Countdown to the Championship, in which she has won three of the five races in the playoffs, including two in a row. Plus, she has raced to the final in four of the five Countdown races.

Pro Stock champion Erica Enders not resting on laurels in final race of 2015

NHRA Drag Racing

POMONA, CA — The 2015 Pro Stock championship belongs to Erica Enders and the Elite Motorsports team, but don’t think for a second that Enders will coast her way through the Auto Club NHRA Finals this weekend at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Enders wrapped up her second consecutive Pro Stock championship in Las Vegas two weeks ago, winning her ninth race of the season, but she and her team want win No. 10.

“We’re all racers, and we all grew up at the racetrack,” Enders said. “I started in a Jr. Dragster. (Co-crew chief) Rickie Jones was at the track when he was a little kid as well. We stay hungry because it’s our passion and we want to be the best.

“My guys are perfectionists. We go out and make an excellent run and win the race, then come back and analyze the data and say, ‘We needed to do this and that.’ They just want to be perfect. Even though we were the best that day (in Vegas), they want to get better.

“I’m the same way as a driver. I want to go in and just do the best that I can for the guys that work so incredibly hard for me. We accomplished what we wanted to as far as the championship is concerned. That pressure is off of us, but we definitely want to go out there and finish the season strong.”

Enders and her Elite team have made an amazing run in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs. Enders has three victories and four final-round appearances in the five Countdown races, proof that championship athletes perform their best when under pressure.

She heads to Pomona on a two-race winning streak, too, having won in Dallas before clinching the title with the victory in Vegas.

“All this stuff is so storybook, so awesome,” Enders said. “I’m really blessed to be a part of a great team and great organization at Elite Motorsports. Our season’s not over yet. We get to go to Pomona and plan on winning that one, too. We’ll see how it goes.”

Enders’ two-year run at Elite Motorsports includes two championships, 15 race victories, and 12 No. 1 qualifiers.

“My career took a turn for the best when I joined Richard Freeman and Elite Motorsports,” Enders said. “It just goes to show that with the right people, anything is possible. Money and sponsorship doesn’t hurt, horsepower doesn’t hurt, but those things don’t win races, those things don’t win championships. It’s been proven over and over again because the wealthiest guys in the sport haven’t been able to get it done.

“We run on a very limited budget and we’ve been able to do it. It’s just the right group of people in the right places. We have great team chemistry, we’ve jelled so well, we work well together, we trust each other. Most importantly, we have fun. Having that much fun, I feel like it makes us even more successful on the racetrack. It has been a whirlwind to have been able to win (15) Pro Stock races in (two) years. It’s crazy. I had always hoped, but I never thought it would happen. Just goes to show that God’s timing is perfect.”

Champ Enders-Stevens pulls runner-up card in the desert

Erica Enders-Stevens reaches final round in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Progressing through the elimination ladder once again, reining World Champion Erica Enders-Stevens came up one win light short of victory at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Taking on No. 16 Joey Grose in the first round of final eliminations, Enders-Stevens was able to power her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on with a win after Grose experienced an issue with his car early in the run.

In the second round against Greg Anderson, Enders-Stevens cut a .013 light and never looked back, running a 6.570 to beat Anderson’s 6.603 and advance to her second semifinal of the year.

However, the semifinal round was a tight battle in which both her and Chris McGaha had almost identical reaction times, her .027 to his .026. McGaha’s car stepped out and swerved partway down the track though, allowing Enders-Stevens to cruise on to her first final-round appearance of the 2015 season.

“What a great weekend for Elite Motorsports and Elite Performance,” Enders-Stevens said. “It speaks volumes for our team, how hard they work and their determination for perfection. To be three of the final four cars two weeks in a row is unreal. The morale is awesome around here. It’s three different groups but it’s really one team.

“I know I talk about my team a lot, but that’s the most important part of the puzzle. We certainly have a great group of guys, and I couldn’t be more blessed to be a part of it.”

After battling with Brogdon all weekend for the top spot in qualifying, Enders-Stevens had one more showdown with her fellow Elite Performance driver in the final round. Enders-Stevens killed the Christmas Tree with a .017 reaction time and was out in front until an untimely mechanical issue reared its head and Brogdon passed her at the line for the win.

“We’re having a blast,” Enders-Stevens said. “Did I want to win? Absolutely. It’s so hard to get to a final round in Pro Stock, so to give one away it sucks. I am very happy for Rodger though. We’re glad to have him on board as part of our team. He had the fastest car all weekend and he deserved to win.

“We were going after it in the final. I was up on the wheel and on the Tree, and we just had an unfortunate miss in the car. It’s one of those loses that kind of burns a little bit because all we had to do was get down the racetrack and we would have won. God had a better plan though, and it was Rodger’s day.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series action will continue with the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 12-15, at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Fla.

Tire Shake Cuts Short Pro Stock Four-Wide Final for Enders-Stevens

Erica Enders-Stevens 4-Wide Nationals

CONCORD, NC — In her 4th straight final round appearance, Pro Stock’s Erica Enders-Stevens shook the tires and was forced to cut short her chance at back-to-back Wally trophies during the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

The current points leader and her Elite Motorsports Camaro have now appeared in three straight national event final rounds (Gainesville, Las Vegas and Charlotte), as well as the finals during Vegas’ K&N Horsepower Challenge. She won both races in Vegas, and had hoped to go “back-to-back-to-back” with a win in Charlotte. Sunday’s race was also her 3rd Four-Wide Nationals final round appearance in a row.

“Winning would have been incredible, just unreal,” said Enders-Stevens. “My guys have us on a hot streak, and even though we didn’t get the win today, we still put up great numbers, went rounds and continue to hold on to the points lead. I’m bummed we couldn’t make it happen today, but I’m thrilled at what we’re accomplishing together.”

Going into Sunday, Erica had qualified in the number two spot with a pass of 6.524 at 213.13 mph. She was just 0.001 second off the pole and posted the fastest mph of the entire weekend for the Pro Stock class.

During the first two rounds of the unique four-car configuration, where the top two cars advance, Erica reached the finish line first each time, and with the quickest ET. However in her final round, she was forced to push the clutch in and end her run early after the car shook.

“We’ve been blessed to have a consistent race car and a setup that rarely gets away from us,” noted Enders-Stevens. “It bit us this time, but better it was the final than the first round. Now we’ll look forward to getting it done in Houston in front of my hometown crowd!”

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas (outside of Houston) April 25th – 27th.

Pro Stock’s Enders Narrowly Misses Victory at Bristol

Erica Enders-Stevens vs Rodger Brogdon Bristol 2013

BRISTOL, TN (June 16) — With less than a foot separating them at the finish line, first time Pro Stock winner Rodger Brogdon squeaked past the Charter Communications / Black Iguana Camaro of Erica Enders-Stevens during the final round at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Brogdon’s pass of 6.745 seconds at 205.48 bested Enders’ 6.752 at 205.66. During that run, Enders’ car slowed by nearly five-hundredths over the previous round, giving Brogdon just enough momentum to defeat Enders by just .0026 seconds, or roughly nine inches at the finish line.

“We missed the clutch setup and it slowed us down. Had we ran in the 6.700’s as we did in the semis it would have been a different story. These cars run so close together you can’t afford to miss your mark,” said Enders.

The number three qualifier Enders would outrun Larry Morgan in round one, then out-drive the venerable Jeg Coughlin with a holeshot victory in round two. A semi-final victory over Greg Anderson would sent her to the final round against the underdog Brogdon.

She ran a 6.680, a 6.694, and a 6.706 second pass during those first three rounds.

Brogdon, who had only once before ever reached a Pro Stock final, took out V. Gaines in round one before defeating number one qualifier Mike Edwards in round two when Edwards’ motor broke. Next, Jason Line spun in the semifinals, setting up the showdown between the two Texas natives.

“I don’t think anyone expected we’d face each other in the finals,” said Enders. “Mike had all of us on the run in qualifying, so it would take something big to get around him. Rodger was able to capitalize on it, and he was able to do the same against Jason. I’m sure it surprised a lot of people, but as drivers we know everyone has a chance on Sunday.”

Enders and Brogdon both hail from the Houston area, and have a long history as friends and rivals, dating back to when Erica was a teammate with Brogdon while running for MOPAR, and she and her father, Gregg raced sportsman cars with Roger.

“Rodger and I have known each other for a very long time,” said Enders. “Of course we would have liked to have been in his shoes today, but I haven’t forgot what it was like to win my first last year, so I’m happy he gets to experience it too.”

With Bristol complete, Erica remains 4th in the overall Pro Stock points standings with 687, behind Mike Edwards (921) and a tie between teammates Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin (757). If funding for Black Iguana gets finalized this week, she will race Next weekend, June 20th – 23rd, for the Inagural NHRA New England Nationals title at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire.