Posts Tagged Norwalk

Too quick at the Tree, two-time champ Erica Enders departs Norwalk race early

Erica Enders | 2017 NHRA Pro Stock Norwalk

NORWALK, OH — As the driver of the lower qualified car in the less-favored left-hand lane, two-time world champion Erica Enders knew a stellar reaction time would help her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro race team tremendously in their Sunday morning match-up with teammate Vincent Nobile.

Unfortunately, Enders dropped the clutch a fraction of a second early, drawing a -.004 second red-light disqualification, which negated her quicker pass of 6.583 seconds at 210.93 mph. Nobile took the victory at the start and then ran a 6.595 at 210.37 mph to advance to the quarterfinals of the 11th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.

“There’s no excuse for a red light,” Enders said. “I just left too early and that cost us the win, plain and simple. I feel bad for the guys because Rick and Rickie (Jones, co-crew chiefs) had a great tune-up for the conditions and we would have won under most situations, but woulda, shoulda, coulda…I didn’t get it done.

“I’m continually amazed at the talent on this team and the togetherness we share. I’m the only one beating myself up. Everyone else is saying, ‘don’t worry E, we’ll get ’em next time.’ We win and lose as a team and today didn’t go our way. At least our Elite Performance teammate Vincent advanced. Hopefully he takes his Mountain View Tires Camaro all the way to the winner’s circle. If not him, then our other teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.”

After four national events in a row, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will take a weekend off before starting the second half of the 24-race season July 7-9 with the 20th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals near Chicago.

“Elite cars have been in five straight finals and six of the last seven finals coming into this race,” Enders said. “I won Epping and Alex (Laughlin) won Bristol. Me, Jeg and Vincent also have runner-up finishes. We’re definitely in the mix every weekend and we’ll go home from here, take a little break, and get ready to crush ’em in Chicago.”

FOX Sports 1 programming of today’s race begins at 6 p.m. ET, Sunday.

Once again, Erica Enders opens eliminations against an Elite Motorsports teammate

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Norwalk 2017

NORWALK, OH — For the fifth time this season, two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will face a teammate from her Elite Motorsports camp at the start of eliminations. This time its Vincent Nobile, who she’s opened against twice previously and faced four times overall in 2017 competition.

“It always sucks racing a teammate, especially in the first round,” said Enders, who is 3-1 versus Nobile this year. “Vincent is a great competitor and I know both crews will bring everything they have. First round, for sure, will be a heavyweight battle for all four of our Elite Motorsports cars because we are all racing each other. I guess we should be happy that at least two Elite cars will advance no matter what.”

Although Enders was third in Friday’s provisional field, she dropped to 10th place in Saturday’s heat, giving lane choice away to Nobile. Still, the two are very close in performance with Enders running a best of 6.623 at 208.36 mph and Nobile going 6.616 at 210.01 mph.

“We had a top-three car yesterday but the weather is so different today and we fell back a little bit,” Enders said. “Tomorrow will be different as well and I remain very confident in my team’s ability to take whatever the weather and racetrack throws at us.

“There was a lot more water in the air yesterday, but with today’s better weather being a little hotter it became a much more difficult track. Power management was a little trickier. We just need to get a handle on it and do what we know how to do on race day. We have a lot of experience and data going into Sunday. I know we have what it takes to be a player when it comes to race day regardless of where we’re qualified.”

Saturday was a busy day for Enders as she pulled double duty, racing both her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stocker and the Omaha Track COPO Camaro in the Factory Stock Showdown. Enders already has an elimination-round win in the Showdown, beating No. 2 qualifier Peter Gasko when he fouled out at the start by -.007 seconds. She’ll face No. 8 qualifier Kevin Skinner in Sunday’s semifinals.

“My Omaha Track COPO Camaro is in the semifinals!” an excited Enders said. “This is the first time we’ve been able to get past the first round in the Factory Showdown so we’re pumped up. We made a decent run there but we definitely can tune it up and improve. I think we have a real shot at winning. We raced a guy first round who had us covered by a tenth of a second and found a way to make it happen.”

“I have an opportunity to bring home two Wallys tomorrow, which I have never done before. We are down to four cars so we just need to beat two more guys and we will be in the winner’s circle. Easier said than done, for sure, but we’re going to give it hell.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 programming begins at 6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.

Two-time champ Erica Enders set to scoop up another trophy in Norwalk

Erica Enders | Factory Stock Showdown COPO Camaro

NORWALK, OH – Two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders’ confidence going into the weekend’s 11th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park is extremely high.

The spunky 33-year-old driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is excited about her team’s momentum and she’s anxious to build on her group’s recent successes, which have her eying a run at a third NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship.

“Norwalk is always a fun race for us; this year’s going to be awesome,” Enders said. “The weather forecast looks great and hopefully it’s not going to be 9 million degrees like it normally is there. We’ll carry the performance gains we made in Bristol (previous event) to Norwalk, and I think we’ll be just fine.”

Earlier this month in Epping, N.H., Enders tallied her first win since the fall of 2015. The Houston native is hoping to continue the hot streak she started in New England at a Norwalk facility known as much for its record-breaking performances as it is for its one pound of ice cream for one dollar promotion.

Only three years removed from her previous Norwalk trophy, Enders’ ambitious heart will be pumping icy blood through her veins when she rolls her Camaro to the starting line this year.

“I really think Epping was just the tip of the iceberg for us,” Enders said. “I didn’t execute properly in Bristol but going into Norwalk it’s go time. I’m ready to win again. We did get a team win in Bristol when Alex (Laughlin) got the victory so we’re firing on all cylinders. I actually won Norwalk in 2014, and I have a really cool ice cream scoop they gave me that sits proudly on my trophy shelf.”

Along with her 2014 victory, Enders, a resident of New Orleans, posted No. 1 qualifying efforts in Norwalk in 2015, 2014 and 2011.

Accustomed to the driver’s seat in just about any racecar, Enders will also be competing in a unique race-within-a-race event this weekend behind the wheel of one of the most powerful production cars rolling off the assembly lines in nearby Detroit.

“I’m get be drive the Omaha Track COPO Camaro in the Factory Stock Showdown so that will be exciting, too,” Enders said. “I’ve got lots to do and that’s the way I like it. We’ll see if we can get back on the right track in Norwalk.”

The Pro Stock racers hit the track Friday with two qualifying sessions at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. They return for two more qualifying sessions Saturday at 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. First round of eliminations begin Sunday at 1 p.m. NHRA TV coverage on FOX Sports 1 includes original Norwalk programming at 10:30 p.m., Friday, and at 6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.

Reigning Pro Stock champ Erica Enders maintains focus through tough stretch

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Norwalk 2016

NORWALK, OH — Reigning back-to-back Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders completed the 2016 schedule’s only stretch of four consecutive races with a positive outing in her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart.

The stretch of races wasn’t kind to the most prolific female racer in class history as she bowed out in the opening round in the first three of the four events. But that turned a bit Sunday when she dismissed bitter rival Chris McGaha with an end-to-end job in Round 1 and gave current points leader Jason Line a huge scare in Round 2.

“Taking McGaha down was a nice bonus,” Enders said. “I was definitely up for it, cut a good light, and just outran him. That was a positive step for us for sure.”

Enders left the starting line with a stellar .013-second reaction time and never looked back, crossing the top-end timer with a 6.728 at 205.76 mph to McGaha’s 6.734 at 209.23 mph.

That advanced her to the quarterfinals, where she ran into Line, winner of six of the first 11 races this year. Once again, Enders earned a huge starting-line advantage, leaving a whopping .051-second ahead of Line. The chase was on from there with Line barely catching and passing her near the finish line, winning with a 6.662 at 209.09 mph to Enders’ 6.737 at 205.57 mph.

“Those two KB Racing cars have been on it this year, and I knew I needed a big start to give us any sort of chance,” she said. “I hit the Tree really well and didn’t see him for a while, but his hood started creeping into my peripheral vision. I was pushing the gas pedal through the floorboard but he got us at the other end.

“We’re just having a tough time figuring out the HEMIs. I’ll still take my guys over any other group in the world. We won a lot together the past two seasons, including back-to-back championships, and we all enjoyed that time as a team. Nothing is going to change that just because we’re down a bit. This is a strong group, and to be honest, we’re not letting anything get us down. No one is super happy, but we’ve moved past beating ourselves up over it.”

Engine builders Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston, along with crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, are happy to finally have a weekend between races to work on some things that they believe will help Enders and her teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. turn in better numbers.

“Four races in a row is tough on every one, every team, especially a team like ours that switched brands in the off-season and are still working on figuring things out,” Enders said. “Having a weekend off finally will give the guys a chance to get back home, maybe recover for a day or two, and then get back to work. I’m sure the dyno will get a severe workout between now and Chicago, and I would expect Rick and Rickie will want to test some more as well. We’ll be busy.

“These guys in this pit aren’t afraid of working hard and we will get this deal figured out. I feel like a breakthrough race is right around the corner. Maybe Chicago will be the place where the switch gets thrown and we start running for trophies again.”

The Route 66 NHRA Nationals take place July 8-10 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders drives Menards, Dutch Boy Paints to No. 10 qualifying spot

Erica Enders | NHRA Norwalk 2016

NORWALK, OH — Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will carry two new marketing partners, Menards and Dutch Boy Paints, into final eliminations after qualifying No. 10 for the NHRA Drag Racing Series race in Norwalk.

Enders’ Menards/Dutch Boy Paints Dodge Dart posted a top qualifying pass of 6.656 seconds at 207.37 mph over four sessions this weekend.

“It’s definitely been a good time with Menards and Dutch Boy on our car this weekend,” Enders said. “We’ve had lots of guests out this weekend for their first drag race, so I’m excited to introduce a new audience to NHRA.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team announced the new partnership earlier this week. She also found out she was nominated in the Best Driver category for the 2016 ESPYs for her spectacular 2015 NHRA season.

This season has been a struggle as her Elite team continues to develop the new Dart with new fuel-injected engines. Teammate Vincent Nobile, who drives a Chevrolet, qualified No. 6 here with some terrific passes in qualifying.

“I’m hopeful that we can run better,” Enders said. “We were consistent today, but we’re not crushing it yet. Vincent is running better, so we’re pleased with that. He’s within one- or two-hundredths of Greg (Anderson) and Jason (Line), which is a huge accomplishment right now.”

Enders and Dodge teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. did miss on racing each other in the first round (as the Nos. 8 and 9 qualifiers do), as Coughlin qualified No. 9.

Enders will face No. 7 qualifier Chris McGaha in the first round after he made a top pass of 6.624 seconds at 209.04 mph.

“We’re proud that one of our team cars is doing well,” Enders said. “We’ve got to go to work on mine and Jeg’s Dodge Darts. We’ll see if we can keep chipping away at it. It’s definitely been frustrating and an agonizing process, but we’ll keep working on it until it gets better.”

The first two rounds of eliminations will air live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at noon, Sunday, with a three-hour recap later in the evening, starting at midnight.

Dutch Boy/Menards driver Erica Enders hopes to scoop up another Norwalk trophy

Erica Enders | NHRA Norwalk, OH 2016

NORWALK, OH — Two NHRA Pro Stock world championship trophies sit in the New Orleans home of Erica Enders, but one of her prized trophies is an ice cream scoop.

Winners at Summit Motorsports Park receive a special billet ice cream scoop, symbolic of the popular ice cream served at the track. Enders scored at the 2014 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, winning the sought-after ice cream scoop, too.

“We’ve had some success in Norwalk in the past, qualifying on the pole a handful of times and finally going on to win the coveted billet ice cream scoop,” said Enders, who races her Dutch Boy Paints/Menards Dodge there this weekend. “That sits proudly in my trophy room. I say every time going into Norwalk that we really love and respect the Bader family and how they operate a great facility.”

Norwalk is one of the favorite stops on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule for competitors, including Enders.

“It’s always a treat to go back.” Enders said. “They go above and beyond to treat the racers like family. From the guys who take tickets at the front gate to the guys who bring ice around for us, everybody is helpful and has a smile on their face. We’re excited to go back to Norwalk.”

A victory in Norwalk could be elusive this season, as Enders’ Elite team continues to develop its new Dart with new fuel-injected engines, but though she may be tempering her expectations, she continues to have the utmost faith in her team.

“Maybe right now, the kind of success we expect isn’t turning on win lights,” Enders said. “It’s going to be getting through this adversity and still be stuck together like glue, still being positive, and still having fun. That’s what it’s all about. Yes, we want to win races for Mopar, JEGS, and everyone else, but at this point, all we can do is continue to work hard.

“We’ll be back on top; I have absolutely no doubt in that. It’s just a matter of time. I don’t know how long that’s going to be, but we’ll be back.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1 and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action from 8 to 9 p.m., Friday, and 7 to 8 p.m., Saturday. The first two rounds of eliminations will air live beginning at noon, Sunday, with a three-hour recap later in the evening, beginning at midnight.

Dutch Boy/Menards to partner with two-time Pro Stock champ Erica Enders

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WYNNEWOOD, OK — Dutch Boy Paints and Menards will partner with two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event this weekend at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.

Enders will drive the Dutch Boy/Menards Dodge Dart prepared by Elite Motorsports at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

“I’m honored to drive the Dodge Dart this weekend with such a recognizable brand on the door and the hood of our car,” Enders said. “I’m glad they’re giving us an opportunity to show them what we can do for them.”

To help kick off the partnership, Enders will appear at the Menards store in Sandusky, Ohio, on Wednesday. Enders and her Dutch Boy/Menards Dodge will be at the Menards at 1101 Lakecrest Parkway in Sandusky from 5 to 7 p.m. ET.

Menards has more than 280 home-improvement stores throughout the Midwest and is known as the low-price leader. The company has backed motorsports for many years, in the IndyCar Series, NASCAR, and ARCA.

Dutch Boy Paints, available at Menards stores, continues to be an industry leader in delivering innovative and high-quality products and packaging solutions.

Enders became the first woman to win the Pro Stock championship in 2014, earning the title in the final round of the final race. She repeated in 2015, winning nine times and setting NHRA records along the way. She is the only driver in NHRA history to win three consecutive final rounds on holeshots.

Enders and her Elite team partnered with Dodge to field the new Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart for the 2016 season.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders stumbles in Norwalk first round

Erica Enders stumbles at Norwalk 2015

NORWALK, OH — For the first time this season, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders couldn’t repeat a 2014 race victory, unexpectedly losing in the first round of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park.

Enders had repeated wins from Las Vegas, Houston, and Bristol, Tenn., from 2014, and she won this race a year ago en route to the Pro Stock world championship.

But her Chevrolet Camaro encountered problems at the hit in her first-round match with No. 16 qualifier Alan Prusiensky, and she lifted early as Prusiensky took the win light.

“It wasn’t good from the initial hit,” Enders said. “It hooked right on me right away and kinda smoked the tires. We shake but we don’t smoke like a fuel car. The track was tricky: The right lane was bald and the left lane was not in fabulous condition either, but my guys did the best they could with the information they had.”

Enders’ official numbers were 9.776 seconds at 94.97 mph while Prusiensky advanced with the slowest winning pass of the first round, 6.704 at 206.67 mph.

“I did my best to hang on as long as I could,” Enders said. “I pedaled the car, but it got way out of control. It got very crossed up — that’s the most crossed up I’ve ever been without crashing. To be honest, at the end of the day, I’m just thankful to take a shiny race car home.”

Enders is second in the Pro Stock points standings, as she has won four times this season. Her Elite Motorsports team returns next weekend for the Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago.

“We learned from today,” Enders said. “It sucks because we were on the pole and we lost to a guy who was a tenth slower than us. It’s not the best situation, but there’s a plan that’s bigger than mine, and that’s OK with me.”

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