Posts Tagged Las Vegas

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.

Enders-Stevens surges to Pro Stock points lead with stellar Vegas victory

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LAS VEGAS (Nov. 2) — When in high-pressure situations, champions deliver.

Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens delivered under pressure Sunday, knocking out points leader Jason Line in the semifinals and then beating five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. to win the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The victory was the fifth of the season and 11th of her career, and it vaulted her into the Pro Stock points lead with one race remaining in 2014.

“It can’t get much better,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s just really incredible. I can’t be any more proud of my team. We had a meeting coming in here on Thursday. (Team owner) Richard (Freeman) just reminded us to go out there, have fun, and stop putting pressure on ourselves. There’s no pressure from him or anyone else.

“When I came in here today I told myself I was going to give it all to God and do my best. I was a nervous wreck in Reading and I shouldn’t have allowed myself to be. That’s what I wanted to change coming in here. I just wanted to go out there and do what I know how to do. I’m confident in my guys and they’ve given me a great race car. Every time I fire up the car, it’s up to me.”

After winning in the first and second rounds, Enders-Stevens lined up against Line in the semi’s with championship implications in the air, and Enders-Stevens ripped off a .009-second reaction time, getting the crucial round-win when Line turned on the red-light.

Then, facing Coughlin in the final round, Enders-Stevens was even better, cutting a .007 light against one of the best drivers in the history of NHRA. She sped to the win with a pass of 6.587 seconds at 206.36 mph to beat Coughlin’s 6.596 at 209.14 mph.

“Those were two of the most important rounds of my career,” Enders-Stevens said. “I stepped up the plate and it feels good. (Crew chiefs) Rick and Rickie Jones were talking in my helmet and telling me, ‘Give it to God, do your best, if you want it, you’ve got to take it, don’t let up, and go after it.’

“That’s exactly what they did with the tune-up on the race car and that’s what I did behind the wheel today.”

The win against Line moved her to within three points of the lead, and beating Coughlin moved her 17 points ahead with only the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Nov. 14-16 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., remaining on the schedule.

“This is what it’s all about,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve been driving for 22 years, 10 of which I’ve been trying to make this Pro Stock deal work. Everything is just starting to come together. I know God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. All of those ups and downs in my Pro Stock career make this just that much sweeter.

“We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us in Pomona but what a cool position to be in. How blessed are we to be here? Regardless of how this ends, it’s been an incredible year and I could not be more proud.”

Title push continues with Enders-Stevens locking up No. 1 spot in Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (Nov. 1) — The Pro Stock championship charge of drag racing superstar Erica Enders-Stevens continued Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the 31-year-old securing her third straight and sixth overall No. 1 qualifying effort of the 2014 season.

Enders, who entered then weekend 35 points behind class leader Jason Line, managed to make up eight markers in qualifying, closing the gap to 27 points, but the Texan knows the real damage can be done in eliminations, where each round is worth 20 points.

“There was still some left in that last run that ended up putting us on the pole,” Enders said. “We’ve got to piece it together even better tomorrow, be consistent, and go A to B every run. If I let the clutch out on time, we can go to the winner’s circle with this Elite Motorsports Camaro. We’ve all got to do our jobs and not get ahead of ourselves.”

Aside from her four victories, 13 races atop the points standings, and six No. 1 qualifying efforts, Enders-Stevens has qualified in the top three another 12 times.

“That’s pretty neat,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve had six No. 1s and eight No. 2s, and several of those second-place efforts we just barely missed being on top. It’s definitely the most No. 1s in one season in my career by far. It just goes to show what this team is capable of.

“Being able to get the top spot in the fashion we did it today was pretty exciting because all the cars were hauling out there. I was optimistic going into the last round. Analyzing the data from the three previous runs, we hadn’t killed it yet. That was really encouraging, so we were able to get after it on that last run.”

For her efforts, Enders-Stevens will open race day against first-timer Jeff Isbell, who ran a best of 6.829 seconds at 204.29 mph. Should they both advance through the earlier rounds, she could face Line in the semifinals.

“I’m really excited and really proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “All of this is so monumental to me. This is 10 years that we’ve worked to get to this point and it’s all coming together. Regardless of how the year ends, I’m just really proud of my team.”

Eliminations for the Pro Stock class will begin at noon. ESPN2 will carry all of the action.

Leading lady Enders-Stevens continues Vegas reign

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LAS VEGAS (Oct. 31) – Looking to grab her third No. 1 qualifier in a row and sixth of the season, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens ended Friday’s first two qualifying sessions for the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on top of the leaderboard.

Laying down a fast time of 6.647 seconds at 208.01 mph, the Royal Purple Camaro continues to earn to earn those crucial qualifying bonus points.

“I’m really proud of my entire Elite Motorsports team,” Enders-Stevens said. “Those baby points are going to matter. They’re very significant, especially with as tight as Jason (Line), Dave (Connolly) and myself are right now. Glad to end the day with four.

“We were really conservative the first session. If you look at our 60-foor time, we were ninth and then went straight to the top of the page. We’ll throw something at it tomorrow and see what happens.”

Entering the Las Vegas race second in points, 35 outof the lead, Enders-Stevens wants to gain as many of those extra points as possible when she can. However, Enders-Stevens is more focused on having fun the remainder of the season and letting the chips fall where they may.

“I try to not focus on what’s out there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We all know what’s at stake, and of course I want that more than anything – and so does my team. But coming here, three weeks out of the car is a significant time. I feel like it’s been a year, but I’m glad to be back in the race car.

“The mindset is the same as any other race, the same as it was when we walked in the gate here in the spring race. It’s take it one round at a time and do the best we can.

“We had a team meeting, and my team owner, Richard (Freeman) said, ‘We’re going to stick to our main game plan as when we started this year. That’s to have fun. No stress, no drama.’ We’ve been able to do that all year long, and there are two races left, and we’re going to continue it.”

After sweeping the Las Vegas race weekend earlier in the year with both a Sunday win and the K&N Horsepower Challenge win, Enders-Stevens is glad to be picking back up where she left off last.

“I’m excited about the weekend,” Enders-Stevens. “I felt good when we walked in the gate here today, and it’s a really exciting time for us all. This is the first time any of us have been in this position. We’re going to try to execute the best we can and let God do the rest.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1 and 4 p.m. PT, Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Enders-Stevens hoping for another dream weekend in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — No Pro Stock driver accomplished more at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March than Elite Motorsports’ Erica Enders-Stevens, but she is far from satisfied with her 2014 success in Vegas as she and her team prepare for this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Nationals.

Enders-Stevens won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge race in Las Vegas in March and then doubled up when she went to the winner’s circle in the regular national event.

“I always enjoy racing in Vegas,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s one of my favorite tracks to run at. We had a lot of fun there in the spring and a lot of success, being able to win the K&N Challenge and then double up and win the race on Sunday. That was definitely an exciting showing at The Strip, so I can’t wait to go back.”

Another good showing in Vegas would help Enders-Stevens continue to move up the ladder in the Pro Stock standings. With two races left in the Countdown to the Championship, she sits second, 35 points out of the lead. She has gained two spots in each of the last two races, where she has qualified No. 1 both times and reached the semifinals in each.

Enders-Stevens has four national event victories, five No. 1 qualifiers, and five final-round appearances in 20 races this season, and she also set the national records for elapsed time and speed in 2014.

Winning her first Pro Stock championship is the ultimate goal, but Enders-Stevens and her team are focused on doing the best they can in each round of qualifying and racing.

“Of course, it’s crossed my mind, as far as being the champion is concerned,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s every driver’s goal and it’s our team’s goal as well. We’re going to do everything that we can to get it done.

“Having said that, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. God’s already got a plan, so we’ll do our best and see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens, who last raced at Maple Grove Raceway three weeks ago, is fired up to get back to racing.

“We’re not preparing any different than any other race,” Enders-Stevens said. “The guys have been working really hard in the shop, trying to find more horsepower. We’re excited to get these next two races underway.”

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

Racing In Red Episode 3: Las Vegas (Part 2)

Racing in Red Episode 3 Las Vegas Part 2

The latest episode of Racing in Red is here. Its Part 2 of Erica and Elite Motorsports’ double-up Vegas weekend:

Check out all the episodes at RacinginRed.com

Erica Doubles Up in Vegas for $100,000 Weekend

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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.

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