Posts Tagged K&N Horsepower Challenge

Erica Enders shocks top qualifier Jason Line early in K&N Horsepower Challenge

Erica Enders | NHRA Las Vegas 2017 | K&N Challenge

LAS VEGAS, NV — Racing on the strength of a fan vote, popular hot-rodder Erica Enders made sure top qualifier Jason Line remained winless in the lucrative $50,000 K&N Horsepower Challenge Saturday with a huge victory in the opening stanza of racing action. Although she lost a round later in the semifinals, Enders once again established herself as one of the hottest shoes in the sport.

With the daunting task of taking on 10-time top qualifier Line in the opening round, Enders coolly pulled of a .006-second reaction time just a blink after Line red-lighted away his chances, as he jumped the tree by -.004. The foul start was made all the more painful for Line as he got out of shape and was forced to shut-off, with Enders running away to 6.723-second, 206.26-mph victory.

Line has now raced in the K&N Horsepower Challenge 13 times but has yet to win the coveted crown. Enders is a two-time champ, having won it all in 2014 and 2015. She was also runner-up in 2013.

“Jason’s one of the best and any time you can beat him it’s a good thing,” Enders said. “I knew I needed to get up on the steering wheel and try to cut the best light possible because he’s been running very strong all year. I was ready and I guess he was a little too ready, so we got a big round win there.”

The semifinals pitted Enders against Shane Gray, but despite her superior reaction time of .028 seconds to Gray’s .042-second start, her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro was soon shaking its tires, allowing Gray by for the win.

“I wish we could have turned on the win light two more times to honor all the fans who voted me into the K&N Horsepower Challenge,” Enders said. “It was a huge deal to me and all the guys on this race team and the fans’ continued support means so much to all of us. All I can say is we tried our best. At least we scored that big win over Jason. It just wasn’t meant for us to go any further today.”

As for the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, Enders wound up as the No. 11 qualifier with a best pass of 6.713 at 206.45 mph. That sets up a first-round race against Elite teammate Vincent Nobile, who qualified sixth with a 6.666 at 206.32 mph.

“Obviously, we know what that car and that crew is capable of so we’ll do what we always do whenever one Elite car races another one, and that’s go out there and drag race,” Enders said. “Vincent’s my buddy and he’s a great driver but when the helmets go on we both want to tear the other person’s heart out.

“We would have liked to have qualified a bit better but the guys are working on a bunch of little things tonight they think will help us tomorrow so we’ll get after Vincent and see what happens.”

Pro Stock eliminations for the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. Live television coverage on FOX Sports 1 starts at 3 p.m., Sunday. (Times listed in PDT).

Impressive Las Vegas winning streak comes to an end for Pro Stock champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | Las Vegas 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV — The streak is over. Long live the streak?

Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders extended her consecutive round-win streak at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to 23 on Saturday before falling to Jason Line in the second round of the K&N Horsepower Challenge, snapping a winning spree that lasted more than two years.

Enders looks to start a new streak on Sunday when she races in the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, the regular national event here at The Strip.

“I didn’t want it to end but there was a plan that was different than mine,” Enders said. “You know it’s disappointing on one hand, but, wow, what an accomplishment on the other. We’ve got to keep positive and focus on tomorrow.”

Enders did make her best qualifying effort of the season in her new Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge, as she’ll start eliminations from the No. 5 spot. Enders ‘ best pass was 6.711 seconds at 204.63 mph as she starts from the top half of the field for the first time in 2016.

“We definitely made some strides in the right direction,” Enders said. “It’s definitely nice to be a little more solid in the top half. We obviously still have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be, but fifth isn’t a bad position to start, especially considering the people who are ahead of me: The three KB (Racing) cars that have just lit the world on fire this year and then my Elite Motorsports teammate, Drew Skillman. It’s cool that it’s three KB cars and then three Elite Motorsports cars.”

Enders has won the last four national events in Las Vegas and the last two K&N Horsepower Challenge races here. She ran her streak to 23 round-wins in a row by beating Allen Johnson in the first round of the K&N Challenge with a pass of 6.755 seconds at 204.60. She got off the line first with a .016-second reaction time and outran Johnson, whose pass was 6.789 seconds at 204.73 mph.

She then faced KB Racing’s Line in the second round, and though she left first with a .021 light, Line’s pass of 6.720 seconds at 205.94 mph beat her run of 6.810 seconds at 204.39 mph.

“Being first out without lane choice is pretty hard,” Enders said. “Having said that, I think that we can go back to our setup where we made our good run and have a consistent race car that’s within striking distance.”

Enders will look to start a new winning streak in the first round Sunday when she faces No. 12 qualifier Aaron Strong (6.750 at 204.6 mph).

“We’re not at the top of the pack, but we’ll keep making strides in the right direction and we’ll get better,” Enders said. “It’s just a matter of time until we’re back to our winning ways.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders’ Las Vegas hot streak is unlike any other

Erica Enders | Gainesville 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV — The winning streak Pro Stock champion Erica Enders is on at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is likely some sort of Las Vegas record.

Heading into the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals this weekend, Enders has won four national events, two K&N Horsepower Challenge races, and 22 rounds — all consecutively — in Las Vegas. The last time she didn’t win there was in October 2013.

Only Greg Anderson has won as many national events in a row in Las Vegas, but the K&N Challenge wasn’t contested in Vegas at the time.

“It’s awesome to have that kind of run, and it’s pretty unheard of,” Enders said. “We’ve had an incredible two years there, and we’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us to do well this weekend. Twenty-two consecutive round-wins in a row is huge, so Vegas has obviously been good to me. I’m hoping Lady Luck will get on our side this weekend. We certainly haven’t had the best start to the year.”

As her Elite Motorsports team has dealt with rules changes that mandate a switch to fuel-injected engines as well as a move to a new manufacturer in Dodge, the 2016 season hasn’t started as well as she would have liked, so Enders and her team would love nothing more than to continue their Vegas hot streak.

“It’s definitely on our mind,” Enders said. “We’re going to continue to do our best. It’s a tall order, but we’ve accomplished things with way more working against us than we have now. Anything is possible, and we’ll go in there with the right mindset and hope for the best.

“It would be really awesome to win this weekend for Mark (Lyle). He’s a huge asset to our sport, and we’re deeply saddened by his loss.”

Lyle, the NHRA chief starter, died earlier this week. He was the starter for all of Enders’ Vegas wins, including the two special K&N Horsepower Challenge races.

The K&N Challenge is a special race for Pro Stock racers based on qualifying points since the 2015 event. Enders is the No. 2 seed and will race Allen Johnson in the first round Saturday, which coincides with the weekend’s third qualifying session.

The winner of the Challenge will earn $50,000 and a custom K&N Horsepower trophy. The runner-up will earn $10,000, the two semifinalists $3,000 each, and the four first-round finishers $2,500 apiece.

“Everything has to go right for you to have a great day,” Enders said. “To be able to have two great race days in the spring for the K&N Challenge and then the national event and then one in the fall is pretty amazing. You think of all the hard work and preparation that goes into getting the car to perform the way it does, and having everything go right that many times in a row is just insane.”

No driver has won three K&N Horsepower Challenge races in a row since the event started in 1985.

Erica Enders-Stevens storms to second consecutive K&N Horsepower Challenge victory

Erica Enders-Stevens wins 2015 K&N Horsepower Challenge

LAS VEGAS, NV — Defending Pro Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team broke out of their early seasons struggles in a big way, storming to a second consecutive victory in the K&N Horsepower Challenge on Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Enders-Stevens beat Chris McGaha, Jason Line (on a holeshot), and Vincent Nobile en route to winning the special race for the Pro Stock class.

“The swag is back and the confidence was definitely back after we tested in Charlotte,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had a very successful test, and everything started to come together. My crew chiefs called me several times this week, and just hearing the confidence in their voices gives me a peace of mind and allows me to be confident and perform to the best of my ability.”

And she extended her winning streak to 14 rounds in Las Vegas, including the 2014 Horsepower Challenge, both national events last year, and Saturday’s race.

“Fourteen rounds in a row, that’s very awesome,” Enders-Stevens said. “All the credit goes to my guys. They work so incredibly hard, and I’m so proud of them and I’m honored to be their driver.”

Enders-Stevens has two No. 1 qualifiers in 2015 but had yet to visit the winner’s circle until Saturday.

“We have struggled, there’s no doubt about that, at the beginning of this year,” Enders-Stevens said. “We stayed after Charlotte and tested on Monday and finally figured this hot rod out. The new tire had been giving us a little bit of an issue, but (crew chiefs) Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll thrashed at it, and their determination and perseverance turned this whole deal around.”

Enders-Stevens snared the No. 2 qualifying position for Sunday’s SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals with a pass of 6.617 seconds at 208.94 mph in Friday’s second qualifying session. That set up a promising day in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, a race pitting Pro Stock’s best against each other for a $50,000 prize.

Enders-Stevens started off against McGaha, and as McGaha slowed to a 17.154-second run at 46.29 mph, she got the win light with a pass of 6.690 seconds at 207.98 mph.

That matched her against Line, who had secured the No. 1 qualifier for the national event this weekend, but Enders-Stevens got the jump with a .017-second reaction time (to Line’s .033 light), and her 6.652-second pass at 207.88 mph was enough to hold off Line’s quicker run of 6.648 seconds at 208.62 mph.

After a quick turnaround for the final round, Enders-Stevens outran Nobile with a pass of 6.650 seconds at 208.01 mph to his 6.694-second run at 207.62 mph.

“We had about a 35-minute turnaround going into the final,” Enders-Stevens said. “Vincent was kind enough to wait; he was already buckled up when we pulled up, and I wasn’t even in the car yet. We were certainly thrashing, but my guys did a great job. They kept their heads together, and that’s what it’s all about: Pulling together, pulling your weight, and getting it done when you need to.”

Her victory also meant Frank Savarese of Fort Wayne, Ind., won a ’15 Toyota Tacoma as part of a K&N sweepstakes. K&N pairs lucky fans with each Horsepower Challenge driver, and Savarese drew Enders-Stevens’ name on Friday.

“He drew my number, and he told me afterward that he was hoping to draw us,” Enders-Stevens said. “I said, ‘Well, we’re coming in with a great car.’ After the first two qualifying sessions on Friday, I said, ‘We’re going to have a race car. If I can do my job as a driver, I’m hopeful you can leave with that awesome Toyota truck.’ ”

Enders-Stevens will go for her second consecutive double-double in the Las Vegas national event. She was due to race No. 15 qualifier Matt Hartford, but Hartford broke the engine during qualifying and will not be able to make the call for Sunday’s first round.

She’ll face the winner of the race between No. 7 qualifier Larry Morgan and No. 10 qualifier Jimmy Alund in the second round.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders-Stevens hoping for another Las Vegas double

Erica Enders-Stevens hoping for another Vegas double

LAS VEGAS, NV — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens hopes to double down for the second year in a row at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Last March, Enders-Stevens won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas and then doubled up the next day by winning the regular national event.

Is a repeat at this weekend’s SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in the cards?

“Vegas will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first win with Elite and we were able to double up there,” Enders-Stevens said. “Then we went there in the fall and won the race to take over the points lead for the championship.

“We swept the Vegas races last year, so we’re really excited to go back, especially coming off a successful test in Charlotte. It gives us a little boost of confidence heading to Vegas.”

Enders-Stevens joined Richard Freeman’s Elite team for the 2014 season, but she was winless with Elite before heading to Vegas. That changed when she knocked off Dave Connolly in the final of the Horsepower Challenge and beat Jason Line in the national event final.

“It was just a special weekend for my team and I,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were still pretty new together, and it was neat to see how well everyone worked together, even under such a high-pressure situation for $100,000. It was a weekend I’ll never forget.”

The K&N Horsepower Challenge is a special race for seven Pro Stock drivers based on qualifying points accrued since the 2014 event (one is added via a fan vote). Qualifying sessions Saturday are used for K&N Challenge elimination rounds, with the K&N final being an extra pass Saturday. The winner pockets $50,000.

“It’s a really exciting specialty race that K&N puts on every year for us,” Enders-Stevens said. “All of us Pro Stock guys are so appreciative of K&N for their involvement in NHRA and their support of our class. It’s an exciting weekend coming up, and being the defending champions makes it even more exciting for us.

“Two of the qualifying passes are K&N elimination rounds, so not only is Sunday important but Saturday is really important to us, too. We’ll get one day to get our ducks in a row and then we’ll swing for the fences on Saturday. I’m really excited about it, and I’m hopeful that we can get it done again.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1 and 4 p.m., Saturday. Final eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday. Saturday qualifying will be broadcast live at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and elimination action Sunday will be aired at 5 p.m.

Erica Doubles Up in Vegas for $100,000 Weekend

lv-trophies

LAS VEGAS — “Next to winning a championship, this is probably the coolest thing in the world,” said Erica Enders-Stevens after winning not one, but two races during the SummitRacingEquipment.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

On Saturday, eight Pro Stock drivers squared off in the annual K&N Horsepower Challenge — a race-in-a-race shootout for a $50,000 prize, bragging rights, and for one lucky fan, a brand new Toyota Tacoma truck.

Erica and her Elite Motorsports Camaro advanced to the finals again this year, and beat her former crew chief and teammate, Dave Connolly, to capture the win after Connolly’s car overpowered the tires and he was forced to push the clutch in.

“The win is very sweet. It’s about having ice in your veins when it matters. We got it done by the grace of God, and I give Him all the glory. I’m a blessed girl.”

With her Horsepower Challenge victory, she set the stage for a double-up opportunity on Sunday. It’s a feat Allen Johnson accomplished during last year’s event, when he beat Erica in both final rounds.

Sunday eliminations didn’t start off as planned, with the Pro Stock field delayed due to high wind conditions in the Las Vegas desert. Unlike Top Fuel and Funny Car, who employ a great deal of downforce to plant the tires, Pro Stock’s aerodynamics are pushed to the edge in an effort to streamline the cars for the least possible amount of drag. This risks the cars becoming unstable at higher speeds when faced with adverse conditions such as high winds and dust blowing across the racing surface.

After the all-clear, the field took the track later in the afternoon and Erica worked her way to her second final round appearance in a row, facing Jason Line in the Summit Racing Camaro.

With identical 0.034 second reaction times, it was all about the remaining 1,320 feet to the finish line and who had the better car to get them there first.

Erica would edge out Line with a 6.612 at 208.78 mph pass to his 6.633 at 208.23 mph run.

“We had a lot of wheel speed on that one,” said Enders-Stevens of her run. “It shook at the top of low and I pulled second. It went sideways and it shook a little more. I put it in third and thank God, it went down. I saw us pull ahead of him and I couldn’t be more proud of my team. My guys, they’re it. They gave me an awesome race car all day.”

Her team, Elite Motorsports, have captured plenty of bragging rights themselves. After securing the Pro Stock speed record in Gainesville, then winning the Horsepower Challenge, they have taken their Chevy Camaro the winner’s circle for the second time in five races, having won the final race in Pomona at the end of 2013.

Led by Richard Freeman, with the father-son crew chief duo of Rick and Rickie Jones and engine builders Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston, the Elite Motorsports team has demonstrated a depth and cohesion required of a Championship-contending team.

“It’s huge and a testament to all of these guys who work for us,” said Freeman. “The engine shop, Nick and Jake, and everybody back home. My whole group is unbelievable.”

By doubling up, K&N sweetens the pot with an additional $25,000 bonus check, taking the grand total up to an even $100,000 weekend as Enders-Stevens captured her 7th career Pro Stock Wally.

“It certainly is very important to us; it keeps us going on this 24-race schedule,” said Enders-Stevens. “This is storybook. We’ve gone a few years without sponsorship; there were definitely more lows than highs. It would have been easy to quit. This is definitely a highlight.”

What’s more, with her victory in Las Vegas, Erica now leads the point standings in Pro Stock, another first for a woman in the class.

Erica and Elite Motorsports will carry their hot steak to Charlotte’s zMAX Dragway in two weeks for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, April 11th – 13th.

Enders-Stevens wins $50,000 K&N Horsepower Challenge

ees-kn-cheer

[From NHRA.com]

Erica Enders-Stevens collected the $50,000 top prize for winning Saturday’s K&N Horsepower Challenge for Pro Stock cars at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. Enders-Stevens, runner-up in last year’s Challenge, made a strong run of 6.64, 208.39 to collect the win over Dave Connolly, who had to abort his run shortly after dropping the clutch.

“We’ve had a great hot rod all year, and it really came together for us two weeks ago in Gainesville, where we set the national record but lost in the final round on a holeshot, so it was great to give something back to my guys,” said Enders-Stevens, the first woman to win the special bonus event.

There were plenty of subplots in the final-round pairing. Both drivers were appearing in their fifth Challenge field, and neither had earned their berth in a conventional fashion. Enders-Stevens finished ninth in points for the Challenge, which draws the top-seven points earners over the course of a calendar year, but got into the field when No. 3 seed Mike Edwards bowed out after selling much of his operation over the winter and No. 8 Greg Anderson was sidelined with medical issues. Connolly got in as the eighth seed as a result of a fan vote. And, of course, both were teammates the last two seasons when Connolly was the crew chief on Enders-Stevens’ entry.

elite-kn-circle

“Part of being a professional athlete is having to put personal things aside for business, and it is a true challenge and something I work hard on,” she said. “It’s about me getting up on the wheel and the guys putting a great race car underneath me to get from Point A to Point B. It’s about having ice in your veins because there’s no bigger pressure than having $50,000 on the line. The win is very sweet; I don’t care who it is [in the other lane].”

Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports Camaro advanced to the final round by beating Dodge runner V. Gaines in round one, 6.64 to 6.65, then put a .016 to .036 holeshot on Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the semifinals and held on to win by a nose, 6.653 to 6.642.

Connolly, the 2005 challenge winner, opened this year’s Challenge account by ending the reign of defending Challenge champ Allen Johnson on a first-round holeshot, 6.648 to 6.643, then defeated Gray Motorsports teammate Shane Gray in a thrilling pairing. After identical reaction times, Connolly edged out Gray by just .004-second at the stripe, 6.654 to 6.658.

Thanks to Enders-Stevens’ victory, her fan representative, Anne Perkins, won a new Toyota Tundra truck.

With Speed Record in Hand, Enders-Stevens Looks to Double-Up in Vegas

ees-gators

LAS VEGAS — Pro Stock’s fastest driver Erica Enders-Stevens and Elite Motorsports are looking to carry their performance hot streak into Las Vegas for a 1-2 win weekend starting today at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

They come off of a successful weekend where the team clutched the national speed record in their Chevy Camaro, reaching 214.69 mph at the finish line, and went on to nearly win the event with a runner-up finish.

“The car had just been set up with the new 2014 Camaro SS updates and a fresh motor that we hadn’t tested in the car coming into Gainesville,” said Enders-Stevens. “To go out on Friday and run an ET in the 40’s (6.483) and beat the speed record was awesome. If we had just won that last round on Sunday, it would have been a perfect weekend.”

Sitting atop the class in speed has added importance when things kick off in Vegas.

Not only will the Pro Stock field be chasing the Wally on Sunday, eight drivers, including Enders-Stevens, will be vying for a $50,000 payday during Saturday’s K&N Horsepower Challenge.

During last year’s event, Erica narrowly missed doubling up for the weekend as runner-up to Allen Johnson in both the Challenge and during Sunday eliminations.

“We feel we’re in a very good position to make this a huge weekend for Elite Motorsports,” said Enders-Stevens. “Other than during the Countdown, you couldn’t ask for a better time in the season to have the fastest car out there. Now we just have to keep it going.”

Qualifying at The Strip begins today, Friday, at 1:30 p.m. PST and 4:30 p.m. The K&N Horsepower Challenge takes place during Saturday’s qualifying sessions at 1:10 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. with the final round at 4:45 p.m. PST. Sunday’s Pro Stock eliminations will kick off at 12:00 p.m. PST. ESPN2 broadcasts will air Sunday at 5 p.m. ET for qualifying, and 8 p.m. ET for eliminations.