Posts Tagged Kansas

Erica Enders, Elite Motorsports dominate Topeka, take over Pro Stock points lead

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TOPEKA, KS — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports team scored a dominant victory at the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka, capping a perfect weekend with a win over Greg Anderson in the final round.

Enders was the quickest in all three qualifying sessions — the fourth was rained out — won the No. 1 qualifier and was quickest in all four rounds of eliminations to score her third victory of the season and take over the Pro Stock points lead.

“The last time we did this was Norwalk (Ohio) last year: We qualified on the pole and were low e.t. every round of qualifying and every round of eliminations,” Enders said. “It’s definitely a feat, especially in Pro Stock, as competitive as it is. Hat’s off to my guys; they are absolutely incredible.

“It speaks volumes of what they’re capable of when they’re given the tools that they need, and that’s what (team owner) Richard Freeman has provided them. I’m just really proud.”

Enders won for the first time in a new R&J Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro after the Elite team parked the championship-winning car of 2014.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to let go of the car I drove last year because we had such an awesome relationship,” Enders said. “We had a lot of success together. We’ve had 29 runs on this car, and it’s still very new and we’re still learning all about her. Rick and Rickie Jones built it and it’s a tremendous masterpiece, and we’re just going to get better and better.”

Enders started the day against No. 16 qualifier Mark Hogan, but her pass of 6.579 seconds at 209.10 mph was low of the round and beat his 6.855-second run at 201.58 mph. She then faced off against noted starting-line ace Jonathan Gray, who left with a .005-second reaction time, but Enders had a .013 light and then blew past Gray with a run of 6.586 at 208.78 mph, beating his 6.607 at 208.68 mph.

Larry Morgan then had a brilliant .007 light in the semi’s, but Enders ran him down with a 6.579-second pass at 208.94 mph to beat his run of 6.609 seconds at 208.68 mph.

“I missed the Tree a little bit against Larry Morgan,” said Enders, whose reaction time was .030. “I knew I was late and was looking over to see where he was. It was only a seven-thousandths margin of victory, so I guess if we had a lucky round, that was it, for sure.”

Then came rival Anderson, who had beaten Enders in the semifinals at Atlanta Dragway last weekend. This time, though, Enders ripped off a .009-second reaction time to Anderson’s .020 and then made a pass of 6.584 seconds at 209.33 mph to beat his 6.591-second run at 209.14 mph.

“He congratulated me down there,” Enders said. “He doesn’t like to lose to anybody; he’s got a very competitive spirit. We all do in Pro Stock. But everything’s cool, and I’m proud that we got the win. He got us (in Atlanta) and he outran us, so I was happy to pay him back just a little bit, but all in good fun.”

Enders now has a 59-point lead over Jason Line, who lost in the first round, after eight of 24 races.

“Because I had never led the Pro Stock points in my career until last year, I remember I screen-shot it every week because I didn’t know if that would disappear or we’d ever get back in that position, but because of my guys and what Richard Freeman has given us, we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of great stuff together.

“It’s cool to be back on top, but it’s been a long, grueling season. Pro Stock is so competitive, and we’ll do our best to stay on top.

Nine years after her first No. 1, Erica Enders earns another in Topeka

  
TOPEKA, KS — In 2006, Erica Enders earned her first No. 1 qualifier at Heartland Park Topeka to become the first woman to win a Pro Stock pole. Nine years later, Enders went to the top of the chart in Topeka again, earning the No. 1 qualifier at the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Saturday.

“It’s pretty cool,” Enders said. “I thought about that coming in here on Thursday, so it definitely was a fun memory here, becoming the first female No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock. We’ve gone on to do some really great things (with Elite Motorsports).”
Enders won the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship with Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports team and has 14 career victories and 15 career poles.

At Heartland Park, Enders led all three qualifying sessions — the fourth was rained out — with her top pass of 6.150 seconds at 211.43 mph earning her the No. 1 spot. She earned nine bonus points by being the quickest in each qualifying session.

“I’m always confident in my guys,” Enders said. “They give me a very consistent race car, and that makes my job a little easier, to where I just focus on driving and not wonder what the car is going to do — if we’re going to blow the tires off, if it’s going to hook right or left. Being low for every session is pretty exciting. We were able to do that some last year and accumulate those three bonus points per round that you’re low.

“Coming to the final race of last year, every point mattered, so we’ll take ’em when we can get ’em.”

Perhaps the only reason she didn’t earn 12 bonus points was because the final qualifying session was canceled because of rain.

“I would’ve liked it,” Enders said. “I’ll drive any chance I get, but it was a good call with the rain coming in. But I would’ve loved to have gone out there and given it another shot to see if we could be low one more time. I think we’ve got a good handle on the car and hopefully a good race-day setup for tomorrow.”

Enders begins her chase for the Kansas Nationals victory against No. 16 qualifier Mark Hogan.

“We’ve had an awesome weekend,” Enders said. “It’s a brand-new race car and our second race in a row with it. We’re just trying to get a handle on it, and my guys have done a great job.”

New Camaro propels Enders to track records in Topeka

TOPEKA, KS — The decision to bring out a new Chevrolet Camaro midway through the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season paid record dividends for Erica Enders during the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Friday at Heartland Park Topeka.

The 2014 Pro Stock champion set track elapsed-time and speed records with her new Elite Motorsports Chevy to snare the provisional No. 1 qualifier. Her pass of 6.515 seconds at 211.43 mph in the first qualifying session broke the e.t. record of 6.566 seconds set by Jason Line in May 2012 and the speed record of 211.30 mph set by Greg Anderson, also in May 2012.

“It’s been awesome,” Enders said. “We’ve had a really good hot rod for most of the year, and we brought out a new race car in Atlanta last week, so we feel like we’re taking baby steps to get it to run the way we want to. It’s proving to be an awesome race car so far.

“The weather is a little bit uncharacteristic of this time of year up here, so it’s cool to capture the record, but we’ve got our work cut out for us, as we always do. Pro Stock is super competitive, and I’m just really proud of my guys for running this well.”

The crew chief trio of Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll have been dialing in the new car, which debuted in Atlanta with a No. 2 qualifier and a semifinal finish. Enders credited a quick launch of the car in Topeka with her quick times.

“I have three tremendous crew chiefs, Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll,” Enders said. “They were up yesterday looking at the track and today as well. Between that, they were tracking weather and putting the best setup we possibly could in our car. We picked it up at 60 feet. We’re not a top 60-foot team, and today, both times, we’ve been No. 1 or No. 2. The car is leaving really nice and smooth, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

Cooler temperatures descended on Heartland Park on Friday, and Enders expected to pick up in Q2. She was quickest of the round, though she slowed slightly with a pass of 6.520 seconds at 210.93 mph.

“We thought it would be a little faster tonight,” Enders said. “My crew chiefs said we’d go a .51 first round, and we did. Tonight, we figured we’d be able to improve and run a low .50 or a high .49, and the water kinda moved in quickly while we were up there, so that’s what slowed it down a little bit.”

More water, in the form of rain, is expected Saturday, which could wash out the final two qualifying sessions. Still, Enders and her team are planning for Sunday’s eliminations.

“Since we’re sitting in the top position, we’ll keep trying to be consistent and bettering our runs and perfect that race-day setup,” Enders said.

Enders-Stevens maintains Pro Stock points with Topeka semifinal

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TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens has the big picture in mind after reaching the semifinals of the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka.

The semifinal appearance was her fifth in eight races this season to go along with two victories, and she maintained the points lead she’s held for five races in a row.

“If we average semifinals for the rest of the year, we’ll be able to hold the big trophy at the end,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s all about momentum and consistency.”

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better at all eight Pro Stock races this season, including third or better in the last seven. She was No. 2 in Topeka and knocked Deric Kramer in the first round, getting the win when Kramer red-lit.

She then took out No. 7 qualifier Vieri Gaines in round two with a .029-second reaction time and 6.653 at 206.92 mph. Gaines was .058 on the Christmas Tree and slowed to a pass of 15.614 seconds at 54.74 mph.

Then in the semifinals against good friend Allen Johnson, the two cars had identical 6.657-second elapsed times, with Enders-Stevens’ speed at 206.51 mph while Johnson went 206.32 mph. The difference was Johnson’s .022 light; Enders-Stevens was .046 on the Tree.

“We had a good car,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were right there with A.J. The ball was in my court and I missed it. It happens and we’re going to pack up and go on to Englishtown (N.J.). The great news is we have an awesome team.

“We’re going to be fine. I’m disappointed, but there are a lot of other teams that would have loved to have gone to the semi’s today.”

Enders-Stevens and her Elite team were understaffed in Topeka because co-crew chief Rickie Jones and engine maintenance man Jake Hairston were not available. Team owner Richard Freeman jumped in to help with whatever task was needed, and the Elite team performed well.

“We did pretty well with what we had, and my team performed well under pressure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were under a rushed schedule, as NHRA gave us 50-minute turnarounds. We were thrashing because we were down two guys this weekend, and everybody was pitching in to help. Everyone pulled their weight and performed really well under pressure, and I’m proud of them.”

From No. 2 for No. 100? Enders-Stevens: ‘Yes, please’

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TOPEKA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens missed her second consecutive No. 1 qualifier by a mere .006-second at this weekend’s NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.

Though Enders-Stevens would have joined fellow female drivers Brittany and Courtney Force as pole-winners in Topeka, ending up No. 2 is just fine for her

“I love it,” Enders-Stevens said. “Before last weekend in Atlanta, we had qualified No. 2 four times and we’ve done well each time. Being a racer, you’re naturally slightly superstitious. To get back to the No. 2 spot, it’s good for us. You can win from anywhere.”

The last three times Enders-Stevens has qualified No. 2, she ended up in the final round. In Houston two races ago, she qualified second and won the race. She’d love nothing more than to repeat that feat this weekend, especially since it would also be the 100th national event victory by a woman.

“No. 2 for No. 100 — yes, please,” Enders-Stevens said.

She leads the Pro Stock points standings thanks to two victories and two other final-round appearances in seven races to date.

Enders-Stevens’ best run in qualifying was 6.606 seconds at 208.68 mph (run in Saturday’s first session), though she duplicated that elapsed time in the final session with a speed of 207.98 mph. Both Saturday runs were low of the round, and they followed her Q1 e.t. of 6.611 seconds at 208.81 mph.

“We’ve got a consistent race car again,” Enders-Stevens said. “Tomorrow is going to be about going A to B and not losing sight of our goals. I hope it’ll be a long day.”

The weekend has been long for Enders-Stevens and her Elite team, as rain canceled the second session Friday and delayed Saturday’s activities.

“I’m just proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They’ve worked really hard this weekend. These rain weekends really stink because it’s hard to go from down to up, from sitting around to rushing and whatever else. They’ve done a great job.

“We had a 15-minute turnaround between today’s two runs, so we were hustling, We were down two guys this weekend, and for as much adversity as we’re facing, we’re doing well and I’m proud of my team.”

Confidence, momentum on Enders-Stevens’ side heading to Topeka

Erica Enders-Stevens Elite Motorsports Camaro NHRA Southern Nationals

TOPEKA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens carries more than the Pro Stock points lead into the NHRA Kansas Nationals this weekend at Heartland Park Topeka.

She’s bringing confidence and momentum, as Enders-Stevens’ Chevrolet Camaro was the quickest car in all six rounds she ran last weekend at Atlanta Dragway.

“I’ve got all kinds of confidence in my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They’re awesome, they’ve got my back, and they’re good people. Our group of guys is a true definition of what a team is. They pick me up when I’m down and vice versa. They work their tails off for me, and every time I get in that car I have 100 percent faith that we’re going to get down, it’s going to be safe, and we’re going to do well.

“To have a group like that is a true blessing. I love them. We’re going to continue to have a great year, and we’ve got to take these races one at a time and do our best. That’s what we’ve done all year.”

Enders-Stevens has two wins — not including her K&N Horsepower Challenge victory — and one No. 1 qualifier in seven races, and she has a 110-point lead on the Pro Stock field heading to Topeka.

Plus, she still has an opportunity to claim the 100th national event victory by a female this weekend. She scored wins No. 98 and No. 99, so getting No. 100 would be fitting.

“It would be awesome,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s a huge milestone for our sport and would certainly be an added bonus for us to get that done for all the women. It would mean a lot to us, but regardless, we’re going to do the best we can this weekend and at every race.”

Enders-Stevens has fond memories of Heartland Park, for it was there as a 22-year-old that she claimed her first No. 1 qualifier.

“That was pretty cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “I was a new driver back then, and I don’t really think I understood how awesome that was to be that new and to be on top of such a competitive class. That was a neat accomplishment.

“We’ve got the car and the team to beat right now, and we’re going to carry that into Topeka and see what happens.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 and 7 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.