Posts Tagged Las Vegas

Expired engine ends Erica Enders weekend in opening round of Toyota Nationals

Erica Enders | Las Vegas 2017 NHRA

LAS VEGAS, NV — It doesn’t happen often for Erica Enders and her Elite Performance race team but an expiring engine ended the six-time Vegas champion’s day in the opening round of competition.

“As hard as we push these motors it’s actually surprising it doesn’t happen more often but we got bit today and that ended our race,” Enders said. “We’ll be fine. It’s an easy fix and we have lots of spares so we’ll be prepared for Pomona, no problem.”

Had the motor survived through the finish line, the outcome could have been very different as opponent Allen Johnson was running close but was on the chase after Enders fashioned a .019-second starting line advantage after a great .010 reaction time.

“Allen’s my good friend and we love to race each other,” Enders said. “That sucker double-bulbed me but I stayed in my routine and cracked his ass with a great light. We were having a great race but when I got to fifth gear in our McLeod Chevy I heard the motor break. Our team owner, Richard Freeman, tells me to leg it out no matter what on race day but when I heard it break I looked over and Allen was right there.

“The smartest thing to do was push in the clutch and do everything I could to avoid further damage so knowing Allen was running strong enough to win I made an executive decision and gave it up. We’ll get him next time.”

The final numbers had Johnson crossing 6.716 seconds at 202.82 mph to Enders’ coasting 7.036 at 163.49 mph.

Enders has a busy week ahead with several appearances at the annual SEMA show here in Las Vegas. The team also plans to test their new Pro Mod car before the season finale, the 53rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 10-12, at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

Six-time Las Vegas winner Erica Enders looking for lucky no. 7 in Sin City

Erica Enders | Las Vegas 2017 NHRA

LAS VEGAS, NV — In a city that lives on numbers, Erica Enders is looking to roll “7” on Sunday when the 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals turn to elimination racing at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Enders won six consecutive races here in her championship years of 2014 and 2015, including both the spring and fall national events and back-to-back K&N Horsepower Challenges.

“We know the way to the winner’s circle here, that’s for sure,” Enders said. “It’s pretty crazy because this car feels just about as strong as the ones I had those two years. We made some big changes to the car after St. Louis and it has been working way better since then, both in Dallas and here this weekend. We’re kind of getting excited.”

Enders’ McLeod Clutches Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro has looked sharp during qualifying with runs of 6.704 at 205.72 mph, 6.687 at 206.42 mph, 6.708 at 205.26 mph and 6.715 at 204.79 mph. Her best pass of 6.687 slotted her sixth in the elimination field, setting up a first-round battle with good friend Allen Johnson, who qualified 11th with a 6.717 at 203.25 mph.

“We’ve got race day in Vegas and race day in Pomona and that’s all we’ve got left for the year so we are going to do our best to finish strong,” Enders said. “The car is definitely running better. We’re not exactly where we want to be but it is directionally correct for the time being so we are definitely pleased.”

Currently sixth in the points, Enders is hoping another victory this year — she already won in Epping, N.H. — will help her climb higher in the final rankings.

“Tomorrow will be a tough day but Vegas is my track,” Enders said. “I’m definitely driving better. I’m going into tomorrow with a lot of optimism and positivity and high hopes.

“If I can beat Allen it will help my teammate Jeg Coughlin because he’s right behind Allen, plus it’ll keep us moving in the right direction. Anything less than the championship after you’ve won it in the past is a letdown but we want to win every race we enter so if we do that and we move up a few spots, that’ll work.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry live eliminations from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Nothing but positive Vegas memories for multi-time champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock 2017 Reading

LAS VEGAS, NV — In her championship years of 2014 and 2015, Erica Enders was untouchable at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, winning six straight events, including both the spring and fall national events and consecutive K&N Filters Horsepower Challenges.

The spunky Texan is hoping to recapture some of that magic this weekend when she returns to her favorite racetrack for the 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals, the penultimate race of the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

“It’s no secret I love the Vegas track,” Enders said. “Those two years were pretty darn special. It felt like we could do no wrong but believe me it took a lot of hard work from these guys at Elite Motorsports. We had it all figured out back then and we even clinched our second title at the fall race in 2015 so nothing but good feelings for this place.”

Although her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is slightly off the blazing pace she set during those two glorious years, Enders is a winner this year and she’s desperate to grab another Wally trophy before the season ends.

“It might as well happen in Vegas,” Enders said. “We certainly had a better car at the last race in Dallas, both in qualifying and on race day. That progress should definitely translate to The Strip.

“We wanted more out of this year when we switched back to Chevy but a lot of little things have slowed us down a touch and we all know it doesn’t take much to get beat at this level. Those championship years we always seemed to be on the right side of every close race and we haven’t had that kind of luck this year.”

Nevertheless, Enders’ trust and confidence in her Elite race team hasn’t wavered.

“There’s no lack of love in our pit,” she said. “And there is no lack of hard work. You work extremely hard for world championships and you work just as hard during down years. It’s just the nature of the game.

“I say all the time I have the best team in the sport and that will never change. I’ve never felt so good or been more comfortable with a group of guys in my life. We do everything together. We’re truly a family. I want to win my family another Wally.”

Aside from her Pro Stock duties, Enders will be racing in Buddy Wood’s Super Comp dragster for Wood Racing this weekend.

“It’s something we’ve done throughout the year,” Enders said. “It’s been a lot of fun and it gives us another chance to win so I’m all for it. You kind of keep your mind in race mode when you have more hits at the tree so I welcome the opportunity. Big thanks to Buddy for trusting me with his racecar.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:45 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 3-4 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Two-time world champ Erica Enders reaches quarterfinals at Denso NHRA Nationals

Erica Enders | NHRA Las Vegas 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will have to wait for another time to log a fifth career victory at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after a one-up, one-down day at the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals.

Enders drove her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro past teammate Vincent Nobile in Sunday’s opening round before losing to Bo Butner by a scant .014 seconds in the quarterfinals. As usual, Enders had superior reaction times in both races but her head-start in Round 2 wasn’t enough to hold off Butner.

“I think I could have done more behind the wheel to help us win but either way I’m pleased with today’s race,” Enders said. “Of course, we want to win every race we enter but we really turned a page today so I’m feeling very optimistic.

“We looked at everything from Friday and Saturday last night and decided to get back to basics and make damn sure the car goes from A-to-B every run. I know how to drive the car and my confidence in my abilities is high so it’s okay if we’re not the quickest and fastest every weekend. We just need to win races.”

Against Nobile, Enders got the jump by .004 seconds and lead the entire way down the track, winning with a weekend-best 6.683 at 207.11 mph to Nobile’s 6.785 at 205.94 mph. The story started the same against Butner with Enders logging another .004-second advantage at the launch. But Butner had the horsepower to track her down and win with a 6.695 at 206.45 mph to her 6.713 at
206.80 mph.

“The outcome could have been better against Bo but it’s still early in the year and we’re just getting all the new parts and pieces we have working together,” Enders said. “We’ll leave here and go back to the shop in Oklahoma and get some test passes in on both my car and Jeg’s (Coughlin Jr. teammate) car and be better next time.”

Enders will have two weekends off before returning to her hometown race, the 30th annual NHRA Springnationals, which will be held April 21-23 at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas. Enders grew up on the other side of Houston in the Cypress area.

“I’m so excited to be racing at home,” Enders said. “I’ll be fortified with all the delicious food from Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants and I know we’ll have a ton of support from Stan and Sheila Holt and all our other hometown friends. I think we’ll have a good weekend, and that’ll be a perfect time to get our first win of the year.”

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).

Fan pick Erica Enders ready to strut her stuff at her favorite racetrack in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV — No one in drag racing has enjoyed a better run of luck at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway than two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders, who returns to her favorite drag strip this weekend with two chances at glory during the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs
NHRA Nationals.

Thanks to her legion of loyal fans, Enders will be taking part in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, a special race-within-a-race for the top eight Pro Stock drivers from the previous 12 months. Enders earned the final spot in the elite field by virtue of an online fan vote.

“Our fans have proved, once again, to be the best in all of motorsports,” Enders said. “I feel so blessed and I am so thankful for their incredible support. We will do everything we can to show our appreciation by running the wheels off this Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to try and win this year’s K&N Horsepower Challenge.”

From 2013 on, Enders has been a nearly unstoppable force in Las Vegas. After racing to a runner-up result at the ’13 K&N Horsepower Challenge, Enders reeled off an incredible streak of 23 elimination-round wins at The Strip. The run included victories at the spring and fall national events and the K&N Challenge in both 2014 and 2015. It finally ended in the semifinals of lastyear’s Challenge.

“We had a dream run, for sure,” Enders said. “It got to the point where it seemed like we just wouldn’t ever lose again. That’s pretty darn rare for drag racers because we all know that only one person wins on a given weekend.

“All the credit in the world goes to (team owner) Richard Freeman and this crew. We’ve been through the highs and lows as an unbreakable family and that streak was certainly one of the highlights. It may have looked easy but I assure you it wasn’t. That was some of the toughest racing ever but we came out on top every time.”

A native Texan with the fight to match her Lone Star pedigree, Enders cautions her rivals not to take her team lightly even though they needed the fan vote to make the field of this year’s K&N Horsepower Challenge.

“I feel a lot of confidence with our racecar right now,” she said. “We qualified No. 3 at the last race in Gainesville and had a really great car until we shook the tires in Round 2 of eliminations. We stayed after the event and tested until we got the car completely figured out so we have a good feeling coming to Vegas. My guys are the best and my wonderful fans are giving us this chance to show what we can do. I am one happy girl.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions for the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals are scheduled for 2 and 4:30 p.m., Friday, and 1:40 and 4:05 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at 1 p.m., Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with two qualifying shows, one at 3:30 p.m., Friday, and the other at 4 p.m., Saturday, followed by live elimination action beginning at 3 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in PDT).

Two-time world champion Erica Enders anxious to put 2016 in her rearview mirror

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Two-time and reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders lost a close race in the opening round of the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals to put a quick end to her weekend in Las Vegas, a place where she’s won four national events and a pair of K&N Horsepower Challenge trophies.

“I had a better feeling than normal today but we missed it a little bit that round,” Enders said. “I got left on for the first time in a long time and we shook the tires a little bit after that. It’s just one of those deals. That’s how it goes sometimes.

“Nothing will change my feelings for this track. We’ve had so much success here the last few years and I love The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway more than any place we go. We’ll be back here in the spring and we’ll start another winning streak for sure.”

Enders had a great .020-second reaction time but her opponent Chris McGaha had left first with a .003-second launch. He never trailed in the race, winning with a 6.714 at 205.01 mph to Enders’ 6.737 at 204.54 mph.

“The cool thing about my group is, no matter what adversity we face, we still have a blast together and next year’s a whole new year for us so I’ll be excited to get back to being competitive and hopefully making lots of trips to the winner’s circle again,” Enders said.

The season-ending 52nd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, which run Nov. 11-13 in Pomona, Calif., is the next race for Enders, but she’ll be busy until then with multiple appearances at the SEMA show In Las Vegas.

“SEMA is an awesome trade show and I always enjoy getting the chance to spend some quality time hanging out with all the various companies that we work with or support us,” Enders said. “It’s a lot of work, but fun work, and it’s definitely nice to talk to people away from the racetrack.”

Erica Enders would love to win Vegas race for fifth time in her career

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Enjoying a relaxed weekend at the racetrack where she’s had the most success in her brilliant career, back-to-back and reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports crew have put together one of their better qualifying efforts of the season.

The 21-time national event winner coaxed a steady 6.718 at 204.42 mph out of her Elite Performance/Mopar Dodge Dart, placing her ninth in the elimination field of the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals. The team has qualified higher than ninth on just four occasions this season.

“We definitely made some decent runs for us this weekend,” Enders said. “It’s exciting to be back at one of my favorite race tracks on the tour. We’ve had a lot of past success here and I’m hopeful that this track produces that same success for us tomorrow.

“Everyone knows we’re at a performance disadvantage right now but it’s not so much that it can’t be made up with my left (clutch) foot so we are going to go to work tomorrow and see what happens. I’m definitely excited to race.”

Enders will race Chris McGaha in Round 1. He posted a last-gasp 6.712 at 204.82 mph in the final qualifying session to move into eighth place on the grid.

“We just have to go out there and have a consistent race car that goes A to B,” Enders said. “I’ve gotta let the clutch pedal out better than I’ve ever let it out before and see if we can send a couple of these guy packing.”

Getting into the spirit of Halloween weekend, the entire Elite Motorsports operation, along with many other teams, dressed in costumes for today’s sessions.

“We’ve had a really fun weekend with everyone that’s associated with Elite,” she said. “My guys, Jeg Coughlin’s guys, Vincent Nobile’s team, and Shane Tucker’s team, everybody under the Elite Performance banner, dressed up like weirdo bodybuilders. We’re just a bunch of goofballs having a good time this weekend.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the action live from 4-7 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

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