Posts Tagged NHRA

VIDEO: Erica Defends her Title in St. Louis

Enders-Stevens wins St. Louis, powers into title contention

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 29) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens added another chapter to her memory book Sunday, winning the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in spectacular fashion with a holeshot victory over Pro Stock points leader Mike Edwards.

“I love St. Louis,” said Enders-Stevens, who also won this race last year. “I’m glad to be back. It’s a good place for me.”

Enders-Stevens has raced at Gateway since 2001 but never won here as an amateur. But in 2012, Enders-Stevens finally broke through, beating eventual series champion Allen Johnson on a holeshot to secure her fourth victory of the season.

“This is the place where I signed my deal with Victor Cagnazzi in 2004 to start driving for him,” Enders-Stevens said. “Then we won last year. This track holds a lot of fond memories for me. Now here we are back in the winner’s circle. I love coming here, the fans are great and the facility is awesome.”

Enders-Stevens left on Edwards with a .021-second reaction time, and her pass of 6.540 seconds at 211.23 mph was enough to hold off Edwards’ charging 6.532-second run at 212.36 mph.

Sunday’s victory was her second of the season and sixth of her career, tying her with husband Richie Stevens. She’s also tied with Karen Stoffer and trails only Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney as the female with the most NHRA victories.

Plus, Enders-Stevens moved up two spots to fourth in the Pro Stock standings, now trailing Edwards by just 60 points with three races remaining in the Countdown to the Championship.

“The championship would have been out of reach had we exited first or second round here,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have to perform well, and we can’t make any mistakes. There are three races left, and that’s 12 rounds of racing. We’re three rounds out of first, and we’ve got to beat these heavy hitters.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world in my guys, and that’s our mentality. This is our championship, and they’re going to have to take it from us. That’s the attitude we have to have. We have to remain positive and optimistic. I’m excited about it.”

Enders-Stevens, crew chiefs Dave Connolly and Tommy Utt and her Cagnazzi Racing team returned to the Pro Stock wars thanks to a partnership with Husky Liners. Company President/Founder Bob Tyler spoke with Enders-Stevens by phone not long after she celebrated in victory lane.

“I just talked to Mr. Tyler and he’s really pleased with what we’re doing,” Enders-Stevens said. “I couldn’t thank him enough. It was four days before Charlotte, the first race of the Countdown, and I thought we were going to be sitting at home watching these guys compete for the championship. That changed really quickly when Husky Liners jumped on with us, and now here we are.”

And she has no intention of slowing down.

“My guys have been really great,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have team meetings and strategize our race-day plans. We got together and agreed that we’re going to have fun. You never know when it’s your last race, and we came back swinging.”

Enders-Stevens started her day by beating Deric Kramer in the first round, as the race was over when Kramer left -.007 seconds too soon. Enders-Stevens’ pass of 6.544 seconds at 211.16 mph was quick enough to secure lane choice against Shane Gray in the second round.

There, she made a pass of 6.556 seconds at 211.06 mph to beat Gray, who slowed to a run of 28.128 seconds at 24.81 mph.

In the semifinals, Enders-Stevens got down the track with a 6.555-second pass at 210.87 mph, beating a sliding Rickie Jones, who went 14.094 seconds at 60.23 mph.

Then came Edwards, who had taken over the points lead by reaching the final. But Enders-Stevens has her eye on the points lead, too.

“We’ve got three races left, and we’re going to do our best and let God do the rest,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens focused on a repeat victory in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 28) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens hopes history repeats itself at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Last year Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team left with the Wally after winning here for what was their fourth victory of the season. She qualified No. 4 last year, and she’s in the same position in 2013.

“We’re right there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We got five baby points in qualifying, we’re certainly consistent, and my guys are doing a great job. I’m excited about what tomorrow holds.

“We’ve got a title to defend and a great car to do it with. We’ll see how eliminations go.”

Enders-Stevens earned the No. 4 spot with a pass of 6.528 seconds at 211.26 mph, run in Friday’s second qualifying session, when weather and track conditions were at their best. But she also made three other passes within .048-second of her best run, indicating she has a consistent Husky Liners Camaro. That bodes well for Sunday, when consistency is key.

“Consistency is always crucial on race day,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m very pleased with our performance, and I’m confident about tomorrow. I’ve been driving well this weekend, and I’m really hopefully of bringing home another Wally from St. Louis.”

Enders-Stevens lines up against Deric Kramer in the first round Sunday. Kramer qualified No. 13 with a lap of 6.603 seconds at 209.30 mph, but Enders-Stevens and her team won’t take him lightly.

“He’s got good power,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are never any easy ones in Pro Stock. We’ve got to make another good, consistent run, and one good enough to get lane choice for the next round, providing we win first round.”

Enders-Stevens earned enough bonus points in qualifying to break out of a tie for sixth place in the standings. Gateway marks the third event of the six-race Countdown to the Championship, and Enders-Stevens finds herself 110 points out of the lead.

In addition to the points battle, she’s thinking about her husband Richie Stevens and her dad Gregg Enders, both of whom celebrated birthdays on Friday.

“It would be an added bonus to bring a Wally home for my dad and Richie’s birthday weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “There’s no better birthday present for them than a Wally.”

Eliminations at Gateway Motorsports Park get under way at 11 a.m. CDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Defending champ Enders-Stevens looks for strong St. Louis showing

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 24) – Husky Liners Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens will have a wider smile than usual this weekend because she’ll enter the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park as the defending event champion.

Enders-Stevens beat Shane Gray, Cagnazzi Racing teammate Dave Connolly, Jason Line, and Allen Johnson en route to her fourth victory of the season in 2012.

“I’m excited to go back to St. Louis,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s always been one of my favorite tracks to go to, even before I started racing Pro Stock. I have a lot of great memories there, and the best one was last year when we won our fourth race of the season. That was just a really exciting day.”

NHRA returned to Gateway after a brief absence while the track changed ownership, and Enders-Stevens took full advantage. The final-round victory over good friend Johnson was special, too.

“We won the final against Allen on a holeshot,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s crazy how I remember this stuff. We’re the defending champions there, so we go in with a lot of confidence and a positive attitude. I’m excited to go back.”

Enders-Stevens sits sixth in the standings after two of six Countdown to the Championship races. Though she knows there is plenty of time to make up the 118-point deficit to points leader Line, she also knows time can’t be wasted if she hopes to win the Pro Stock championship.

“It’s still within reach,” Enders-Stevens said. “We need to go rounds because the Countdown is almost half over.”

Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team’s assault on the Pro Stock standings begins with qualifying, where points are up for grabs in each of the four sessions. Three bonus points are awarded to the quickest car in each session, two to the second-quickest, and one to the third-quickest.

Points are also available for qualifying higher overall; Enders-Stevens earned eight points for her No. 1 in Dallas last weekend.

“Getting those baby points in every round of qualifying certainly adds up,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are 12 points up for grabs for low e.t. of every qualifying session. They’re important and we want to go after them, too.”

Qualifying for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals gets under way at 2:45 p.m. CDT on Friday from Gateway Motorsports Park and continues at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday. Eliminations will be at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Enders-Stevens proud of Husky Liners team after solid showing in Dallas

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DALLAS (Sept. 22) – Erica Enders-Stevens and her Husky Liners team continue to move forward in the Pro Stock points standings and are now tied for sixth after a second-round finish at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Sunday at Texas Motorplex.

Enders-Stevens earned the No. 1 qualifier, beat Chris McGaha in the first round, and then left first on Vieri Gaines in the second round with a .008-second reaction time before Gaines nipped her at the finish line.

“I was really proud of my crew chiefs and my entire team for their performance in Dallas,” Enders-Stevens said of her Cagnazzi Racing team. “When you lose two sessions on Friday, it’s crucial to go out there and perform for the two qualifying runs you have left. We capitalized on it in the first round and were able to get the No. 1 qualifier.

“They’ve been consistently getting this race car down the track, and I’m proud of them. It gives me a lot of confidence as a driver knowing that I have a good car underneath me.”

Enders-Stevens’ driving was solid Sunday, as she left the starting line first against both opponents. Against McGaha, she had a .034 light and then made a pass of 6.573 seconds at 210.31 mph. That was enough to beat McGaha’s 6.641 at 208.78 mph.

“It was an OK run,” Enders-Stevens said. “I was OK on the Tree and the run was OK. We didn’t kill it, and there was certainly some left over in the car, but it was enough to win and that’s what matters. And it was enough to keep lane choice, too.”

Enders-Stevens chose the left lane against Gaines and was quicker out of the gate with a stellar .008 light. She made a pass of 6.604 seconds at 210.18 mph, but Gaines had a .010 light and made a slightly quicker lap of 6.596 seconds at 211.03 mph to take the win by .061-second.

“That was an important round for us because V. was really close to us in points,” Enders-Stevens said. “That would’ve been nice to spread the gap but it wasn’t our day. We did all that we could do and unfortunately came up short.”

Still, Enders-Stevens moved up one spot into a tie for sixth with Gaines, who lost in the semifinals after a .111 light.

“We’ll continue to plug away at it,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to start going more rounds if we want to win the championship. We know the task that is ahead of us and we’ll be all right.

“We’ve got a good car and it’s consistent. Plus, we’re getting down the racetrack, which is important in the Countdown. We’ve got to do our best every single time we pull up to the waterbox. We know that and I’m confident in my team. They’ve really been doing a great job and have figured this Chevy Camaro out.”

Up next for Enders-Stevens is the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals from Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis.

Video: Erica’s #1 Qualifier Press Conference from Dallas

Enders-Stevens grabs No. 1 qualifier in her home state

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DALLAS (Sept. 21) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens cemented her reputation as one of the best in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class over the last two seasons, and she has enhanced that status in her return to the Countdown to the Championship.

Enders-Stevens won the No. 1 qualifier at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Saturday at Texas Motorplex with a lap of 6.557 seconds at 210.93 mph in her Cagnazzi Racing Chevrolet Camaro.

“It’s certainly a great feeling, that’s for sure, especially to be home here in Texas,” said Enders-Stevens, a native of Houston. “It’s really important for our morale and team confidence. I’m really proud of the entire team and send a special thanks to Stevie Johns and Kevin Wideman back at the Cagnazzi Racing engine shop in Mooresville (N.C.). There will be a little bit more peace of mind going into Sunday, but we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us tomorrow.”

Enders-Stevens missed five of six races before the six-race playoffs, but Bob Tyler and Husky Liners joined the team as marketing partner, and Enders-Stevens and Cagnazzi have picked up where they left off.

Enders-Stevens reached the semifinals of the first race of the Countdown last week in Charlotte, and she followed that up with her first No.1 qualifier of the season and sixth of her career.

She’s eighth in the Pro Stock points standings but didn’t hesitate when asked if her team is a championship contender.

“We are, for sure,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got the best guys in the business, and they’ve stood behind me from Day 1, as I have for them. We’re a great team and we work really well together. Chemistry is important in this sport, and we’re lucky to have a great group of guys who work well together. That’s a little bit of our edge, honestly. The team part is a very important aspect.”

Enders-Stevens squares off against Chris McGaha in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. McGaha qualified No. 16 with a pass of 6.654 seconds at 208.68 mph.

Missing time out of the Pro Stock car was not an “ideal situation, obviously,” Enders-Stevens said, but it has made her appreciate the chance Husky Liners has given her and her team.

“It was really tough to sit at home and watch,” Enders-Stevens said. “We missed out on testing and seat time for me as a driver, but to be back out here for Husky Liners is great.

“Honestly I just feel really blessed to have the opportunity be out here. It really gives you time to think when you’re at home watching instead of being out here competing, knowing you have a great team standing behind you. We’ve got great horsepower. We just needed the money, and Bob Tyler from Husky stepped up.”

Eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. CDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Enders-Stevens takes Husky Liners to semifinals in Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 15) – Erica Enders-Stevens and her Husky Liners Pro Stock team made some gains at the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sunday at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens moved up two spots in the Pro Stock points standings to seventh with a semifinal finish in the first race of the Countdown to the Championship, and she also gained ground on several drivers still in front of her in the points.

“We’ve always got to look at the positives,” Enders-Stevens said. “At this moment we’re the underdog, and we’ve got some fighting to do to get this car up to the performance level of the rest of the pack. Being back in the car and getting seat time is only going to make it better, and I know that.”

Sunday’s performance was truly a team effort, as Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team were both on top of their game. She overpowered one opponent and then won another round on a holeshot.

“Today was a good start to the Countdown,” Enders-Stevens said. “A semifinal finish is nothing to be ashamed of. There are a lot of guys who would have traded spots with us today.”

Enders-Stevens moved within 10 points of sixth place, and is 109 points – a little more than five rounds – behind leader Mike Edwards.

“I’m glad to have made up some ground on a couple of the guys ahead of me,” Enders-Stevens said. “The good news is in three days we go to Dallas. We’ll get another shot at it and we’ll keep fighting.”

Enders-Stevens kicked off her return to full-time Pro Stock competition with a win over Rodger Brogdon. Her pass was 6.578 seconds at 210.28 mph to defeat Brogdon’s 6.626 at 208.71 mph.

That matched her up against defending Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson, and though her good friend was quicker, Enders-Stevens scored the victory. The difference was her .029-second reaction time that gave her a .031-second advantage. That was enough to overcome Johnson’s pass of 6.567 seconds at 211.16 mph, which was slightly quicker than her run of 6.586 seconds at 209.36 mph.

“That was nice,” Enders-Stevens said. “I came back and had a meeting with Dave (Connolly, her crew chief alongside Tommy Utt) and went over some things with the car. I’m always up on the wheel, but that was an important round for our team. I love Brutus (Johnson) and he’s my best friend out here, but when the helmets go on, I’m ready to rip his throat out. That’s the mindset I took, and he left the door open for us.”

She then faced No. 1 qualifier Jason Line, who led the whole race with a run of 6.579 seconds at 210.73 mph, beating Enders-Stevens’ 6.597 at 210.05 mph.

Next up for Enders-Stevens and the Husky Liners team is the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals next weekend in Dallas.

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