Posts Tagged New England

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders, Elite team go down swinging in Epping

Erica Enders | New England Nationals Eliminations

EPPING, NH — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team went down swinging in the first round of the NHRA New England Nationals on Monday at New England Dragway.

Enders and crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones made some major changes to the setup of her Dodge Dart, but despite leaving first in her matchup with Alex Laughlin, she couldn’t turn on the win light.

“We made some pretty big swings on this car, trying to figure out what makes it happy,” Enders said. “The car was a lot happier that time, but it just didn’t run well. We had the wrong setup in it. It’s one of them deals. I missed the Tree, my guys missed the setup, and it stinks. The end result is the same: A first-round loss.

“I guess if there’s any positive to it, there’s not a nicer guy out here than Alex. He’s a really great kid. I still want to beat him, though.”

Enders’ reaction time was .044-second, compared to Laughlin’s .063, but her pass of 6.684 at 207.15 mph wasn’t enough to hold off his 6.622 209.14 mph.

Enders and her Elite team continue to develop her new Dodge Dart with new fuel-injected engines, and the 2016 season hasn’t gone as well as her championship years of 2014 and 2015, but Enders and her team won’t get discouraged.

“It’s tough when you work so incredibly hard, and it’s the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about when you go to sleep,” Enders said. “To come out here and not be competitive is hard on all of us.

“I have zero doubt we’ll get there. I don’t know when, but all we can do is keep trying. That’s what we’ll do.”

The Epping race was originally slated for Sunday, but persistent rain delayed final eliminations one day. Monday brought sunshine and blue skies, though many fans could not return.

“It is weird when there is a rain delay,” Enders said. “In the past, I’ve had pretty decent luck with rain delays, like Bristol (Tenn.) last year and Chicago in 2012 — my first win — both of which were rain-delayed. They didn’t run on Monday, but we didn’t run first round in Chicago until 4 o’clock.

“The atmosphere is different. There are fewer fans here, and it kinda feels like a test in a way. But the weather’s nice — just wish it was yesterday.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders knows success is close at hand

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EPPING, NH — While strapped in her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge for the second qualifying session, two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders let out a loud cheer that was audible to those near her race car.

Enders was cheering on teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s solid run, knowing her Elite Motorsports team may have turned a corner at this weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.

“Jeg and Vincent (Nobile) both made strides in the right direction this weekend,” Enders said. “We’re not going to be far behind them.”

Nobile, driving an Elite Chevrolet, qualified No. 3, and Coughlin, in an identical Dodge to Enders’, qualified No. 7. Enders’ best pass was 6.631 seconds at 209.56 mph, and while the elapsed time is a tick off the best cars, the speed was an improvement.

The 2016 season hasn’t started as Enders and her team had hoped because development of the new Dodge Dart with fuel-injected engines has been tedious, but with improvement from Coughlin and Nobile, Enders knows better days are ahead.

“We hope for some better results Sunday, but either way, this weekend has definitely given our entire Elite Motorsports team a breath of fresh air and has shown that their hard work is starting to pay off,” Enders said. “We’ll keep working hard at it and continue to move in the right direction. We’ll catch up.”

Enders and her Elite team were unable to take advantage of cooler weather Friday, when Coughlin and Nobile made their better passes.

“Not making a great run Friday in better conditions got us a little behind the eight ball, but that’s part of the program,” Enders said. “This last run (in Q4), we hurt a motor, so we’ll be putting a new bullet in for race day.”

Whether that race day is Sunday or another day depends on the weather. The local forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of rain on Sunday, but Enders is hopeful of getting the race in.

“It looks like it’s lighter rain in the morning, and it’s not supposed to get bad until the afternoon, so hopefully it’ll miss us a little bit and we can get the race in tomorrow,” Enders said. “Either way, it’s great to be up here in Epping. I really enjoy racing here. The fans are awesome, and they really love Pro Stock. That’s refreshing.”

Eliminations are scheduled to start at noon, Sunday, and will air on FOX Sports 1 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Erica Enders welcomes role as defending Pro Stock world champion

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EPPING, NH — Becoming a champion in any sport can often be a burden to those who achieve the highest level of success, but two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders welcomes the role she earned in 2014 and 2015 by beating the best drivers in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. As she races in the NHRA New England Nationals this weekend at New England Dragway, Enders carries the No. 1 on the side of her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge.

“I worked my entire life to become a champion,” Enders said. “Carrying the No. 1 on my window is a huge honor, especially in a class that is as competitive as Pro Stock.”

Of course, winning one title doesn’t guarantee success the following season, but Enders knows the only way to continue reaching her goals is to keep doing her best time after time.

“It comes with positives and negatives,” Enders said of being a champion. “We’ve had a target on our backs from the get-go, but being back-to-back champions makes it a bigger target. I do my best every single time I go up to the starting line, and I don’t care who I race, but it does seem that my competitors race me differently than they race other people.

“I take that as a compliment that my competitors give me their best every time because they can absolutely count on getting my best from me, regardless of who they are.”

That consistent effort pays dividends, as seen by her back-to-back titles. The 2016 season has been a struggle, though, as her Elite team continues to develop a new Dodge Dart and new fuel-injected engines.

“This year has come with its challenges,” Enders said. “We have to stay true to ourselves and stay the course. We’ll get to where we’re going, and when we do, it’ll be game on.”

Along with expectations, being a champion carries additional responsibilities, especially at the racetrack. Enders’ time is taxed more than ever, and though that’s a good result from her success, it does take some adaptation.

“The fan responsibility has significantly changed in the last two years,” Enders said. “I’ve had the most loyal, fun group of people who have been supportive to us over the years, and the group is steadily growing. That’s a huge compliment to what we’ve accomplished.

“I know this year hasn’t exactly made a lot of our fans proud, but they can rest assured that we’re doing everything in our power to get back to the top.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 and 7 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry live qualifying action from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations will air from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Sunday.