Posts Tagged Phoenix

Fiery competitor Erica Enders resolute on improving after Phoenix

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock | Phoenix 2017

PHOENIX, AZ – Erica Enders’ race day in the desert ended much sooner than anticipated this morning during Round 1 of eliminations of the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the second of 24 events in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Two-time world champion Enders began Sunday qualified in the No. 10 position. Her Rick Jones Race Cars-built Chevrolet Camaro racing under the banner of Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports is a favorite to win every time out, but today she was the underdog of the opening round in a side-by-side battle against No. 7 qualifier Shane Gray.

As soon as the Christmas Tree flashed green, Enders’ bright red Camaro started shaking the big Goodyear slicks from lack of traction, which compelled Enders to begrudgingly abort her run. Gray finished with a 6.559-second, 211.23-mph mark, while Enders coasted across the finish line with a 7.961.

“We shook last (qualifying) session, but we didn’t expect to do that going up there today,” Enders said. “We weren’t set on kill or anything like that so we might have something wrong with our race car.

“The good news is we have a couple of weeks before Gainesville (next event) that we can go to work on it, the bad news is, our race day is over unfortunately. We are way better than that, and I fully expected to send that team packing first round for sure.”

Enders, the most successful female Pro Stock racer in NHRA history, has 21 national event victories. She is teammates with Elite Motorsports’ campaigners Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Vincent Nobile.

“Both my teammates Jeg Coughlin and Vincent Nobile are going rounds today,” Enders said. “Jeg has a really fast hot rod right now and has the best capability of winning the race so our focus goes to his car, and we’ll see if we can’t get one of the Elite Motorsports Elite Performance cars in the winner’s circle today.”

Enders will compete next at the famed Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, March 16-19.

FOX FS1 TV coverage of eliminations begins with three hours of elimination action at 4 p.m. MT, Sunday.

No shortage of confidence for two-time champ Erica Enders as eliminations near

Erica Enders | Phoenix 2017 | NHRA Pro Stock

PHOENIX, AZ – Two-time world champion Erica Enders will begin Sunday’s eliminations from the No. 10 qualifying spot in Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro at the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Enders will bring her bright red racer to the starting line in Round 1 to race No. 7 qualifier Shane Gray. Her 6.558-second, 211.53-mph qualifying mark is just a touch behind Gray’s 6.548 posting.

The most successful female Pro Stock racer in NHRA history, Enders has 21 national event victories in her career, including a trip to the Phoenix winner’s circle in 2013. She was runner-up finisher here in 2015.

Despite the uncharacteristically average qualifying spot, the ever-affable Texas native shows a sheepish grin when asked about her team’s preliminary runs.

“To be honest, we’re still testing some things,” Enders said. “We were trying stuff all throughout qualifying. We have our baseline set-up we know we can go back to for race day. Tomorrow morning I have all the confidence in the world we’ll be just fine.

“I don’t mind my draw at all and I don’t really think lane choice is a big deal here. Having said that, the whole program is moving in the right direction. Both of my teammates went a 6.541 so we at least know we can go that. Heading into race day, I’m totally optimistic – totally confident. I’ve won here before, and we’re excited to be back in Phoenix. So, we’ll see what happens. Like always, I put my money on us.”

The Elite Motorsports contingent includes Enders, Jeg Coughlin Jr., and Vincent Nobile. Coughlin qualified No. 5 and Nobile landed in the No. 4 slot.

Enders enters tomorrow’s eliminations in fourth place in NHRA Pro Stock championship points. She raced to a semifinal finish at the season-opening Winternationals two weeks ago in Pomona, Calif.

Eliminations start at noon MT, Sunday. Television coverage of qualifying is on FOX Sports 1 from 10-11 p.m. MT, Saturday, followed by three hours of elimination action from 4-7 p.m. MT, Sunday.

Popular two-time champ Erica Enders has program right on track for Phoenix race

Erica Enders 2017 NHRA Pro Stock

CHANDLER, AZ — Before she even turned professional, let alone captured two world championships, drag racer Erica Enders had a Disney movie made about her and her sister Courtney’s lives in the NHRA Junior Dragster ranks. The film, the most watched movie in Disney Channel history, was entitled Right On Track.

Heading into this weekend’s 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Enders says the same title could easily be used to describe Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports race team, the group she’s been with for four seasons.

“Everything is right on track, for sure,” Enders said. “It’s no secret we had a down year in 2016, and it was a big deal because we’d just won back-to-back championships (in 2014-2015). We just struggled with the car we had and never got the engine right.

“Richard made a big decision, a very expensive decision in the off-season to switch back to GM horsepower and Chevrolet Camaros. That’s the brand we had when we did all our winning and it’s already made such a difference. We are back in competitive form and come into this race knowing we have a darn good chance to win. It’s been more than a year since we’ve been able to say that.”

Enders won the Phoenix race outright in 2013 and was runner-up at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in 2015. She also was top qualifier at the track in 2015.

“It’s a really unique setting and a place where I really like to visit because I have family here,” said Enders, a 21-time national event winner. “The track can be good, depending on the weather, and it can also be tricky if the dust gets stirred up. We already tested there a lot this year so we’re ready for anything.

“I really enjoy the fans also. They are friendly and into what we’re doing. It’s always fun when the people are behind you and cheering for you because we all try hard to put on a great race for them. This year I’m feeling we can really do something special so maybe we’ll be celebrating with them in the winner’s circle again.”

There are three cars racing out of the Elite Motorsports camp and Enders, following her semifinal finish at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif., is leading the way in fourth place. Teammates Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin Jr. follow in fifth and sixth, respectively. All three crew chiefs work together and share data.

“We’re a true team in every sense of the word and we have a lot of fun racing as a team,” Enders said. “That’s our secret weapon.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:30 and 4 p.m. MT, Friday and Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon MT, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with two qualifying shows from 10-11 p.m. MT, Friday, and 10-11 p.m. MT, Saturday, followed by three hours of elimination action from 4-7 p.m. MT, Sunday.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders flashes driving brilliance in Phoenix loss

Erica Enders Phoenix 2016 Mopar

PHOENIX, AZ — Erica Enders’ 200th career Pro Stock race didn’t go as she wanted, but the two-time defending Pro Stock champion did show she hasn’t lost her touch.

Despite a first-round loss to Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Enders still managed to post the best reaction time of the day, .005-second.

That stellar light gave her an instant advantage over Skillman, but her pass of 6.705 seconds at 207.53 mph wasn’t enough to hold off Skillman’s 6.633 at 208.33 mph.

“Cutting a .005 light made me happy but it was short-lived,” Enders said. “I unclutched it and I thought, ‘Dang, Drew is probably in trouble because that felt pretty good.’ But our car has been extremely unhappy all weekend, and we’re trying to get her settled down and back to our real race car.”

Enders won the 2014 and 2015 Pro Stock championships with a combination of her terrific driving, solid horsepower from Elite Performance, and excellent tune-ups from crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, but much has changed for 2016. NHRA mandated fuel-injected engines limited to 10,500 rpm, and Elite also switched to Mopar, building a new car for Enders, and that car is still being developed.

“It stinks that we are out early in Phoenix, but that round was certainly a step in the right direction,” Enders said. “It gives us a little positive breath of air throughout all of this interesting learning curve. It’s easy to get frustrated, especially coming off two successful years like we have had, but my crew continues to dig deep and have positive attitudes, and that’s what I feel champions are made of.

“I’m so proud of them and proud to be their driver. I know that this early elimination trend is going to end pretty quickly and the rest of the field will be in trouble. Until then we’ll just continue to work on our race car. The Dodge Dart is a great car and we’re going to test before Gainesville, and that will help get us moving in the right direction.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders confident of the future, looking forward to race day

Erica Enders Phoenix 2016 Qualifying

PHOENIX, AZ — By her standards the past two seasons, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders should be frustrated, but the two-time Pro Stock champion is far from being discouraged. The dominance Enders and her team showed in 2014 and 2015 is not apparent at the moment, but after a whirlwind off-season, she knows it’s coming.

Enders qualified No. 9 for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, and she hopes to continue to make strides on race day.

“We went home from Pomona, and the guys worked really hard in the engine shop,” Enders said. “We certainly feel like we made moves in the right direction. We had the second-quickest mph yesterday, which is very encouraging, considering how new our Dodge engine program is.”

Enders and her team switched to Dodge in the off-season, and to comply with new NHRA rules, the team built all-new fuel-injected engines with a 10,500 rpm limit. Her best elapsed time of 6.689 seconds was ninth-best, but her speed of 208.26 mph was fourth-fastest this weekend.

“We made some significant changes with our race car, and it’s just not happy right now,” Enders said. “There’s no other way to beat around the bush. Once we get our race car happy, things will be OK.”

Enders will have to face an Elite Motorsports teammate in the first round for the second race in a row. She battled Jeg Coughlin Jr. at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif., and will face No. 6 qualifier Drew Skillman here. Skillman’s best pass was 6.650 seconds at 207.43 mph. (Usually, the No. 9 qualifier faces the No. 8 qualifier, but because only 14 cars are entered, NHRA had to juggle the ladder).

“That was literally run No. 22 on this car, and eight of those are qualifying runs at national events,” Enders said of her pass in the final qualifying session. “It’s pretty crazy to think that the car is that new.

“In the grand scheme of things, it could be easy to get frustrated because of how we’re used to performing,” Enders added. “But if we look at the big picture and consider everything we went through in the off-season, with all the rules changes and with building two new cars and a motor program, it’s just going to take time. I keep telling people that.

“I’m very optimistic, very confident that things are going to get better.”

FOX Sports 1 will air live coverage of eliminations from 2-5 p.m. PT, Sunday. More than 1.1 million viewers tuned in to the first broadcast of the season.

Phoenix will be champion Erica Enders’ 200th Pro Stock race

2016 Phoenix NHRA marks Erica Enders' 200th race

PHOENIX, AZ — Erica Enders’ epic racing career will reach another milestone when she races at this weekend’s CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. The event will be her 200th career Pro Stock race, dating back to her debut in Pomona in February 2005.

Over that span, Enders has become an NHRA superstar, winning the 2014 and 2015 Pro Stock championships and 21 NHRA national events.

“It’s hard to believe in one sense,” Enders said. “In another sense, it’s like, ‘Are you sure it’s not 200,000 races?’ I feel like I’ve been out there forever.

“It’s definitely a cool milestone. I’m excited to have accomplished that. It means we’ve been out there for quite some time. With God’s grace, I’ll get 200 more races. We’ll see how it goes.”

In 199 career races in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class, Enders has 21 wins, 14 runner-up finishes, 58 semifinal appearances, 18 No. 1 qualifiers, and a 217-128 win-loss round record.

Enders has been outstanding the last two seasons, winning 15 races and both championships. She set an NHRA record in 2015 by winning three consecutive final rounds on holeshots (Brainerd, Minn.; Indianapolis; and Charlotte).

Her nine victories last year broke Angelle Sampey’s single-season mark of victories by a woman (seven) set in 2001, and Enders remains second to Sampey (41) in career wins by a woman.

Enders’ 2016 season didn’t get off to the start she wanted, losing in the first round in Pomona Calif., against Elite Motorsports teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. The Elite team switched to Dodge in the offseason, compounding the issues relating to NHRA-mandated changes for the entire Pro Stock class (fuel-injected engines limited to 10,500 rpm and shorter wheelie bars), but Enders believes in her team, just as they believe in her driving ability.

“I think there will be a lot of improvement made,” Enders said. “We won’t be running at the top of the pack, but we’ll slowly claw our way back up there. We’re hopeful to pick up a hundredth and a half to two-hundredths before Phoenix, but the scoreboard will have to tell us there. We’re certainly going to go home and work on our stuff. It’s a new program, and I know with this group of people, anything is possible.

“I’ve never met a more determined bunch, which fits my personality perfectly, so I know they’ll dig deep. They’re super passionate about it, and they hate losing as much as I do, so you bet your ass we’ll be back where we belong. It’s just going to take some time, and we’ve got to keep that in mind, and that’s OK. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Phoenix is one of Enders’ favorite tracks, mostly because her brother, Tom, lives in the area. He’ll be in attendance with his wife, Stacy, and two daughters, Addison and Alexis.

Plus, Enders raced to a victory there in 2013 and to the final last season.

“Phoenix is like a second home track for me,” Enders said. “I’ve done well there in the past and am hopeful of doing well there again.”

FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying from 7-9 p.m. PT, Saturday, with live coverage of eliminations from 2-5 p.m. PT, Sunday. More than 1.1 million viewers tuned in to the first broadcast of the season.

Champ Enders-Stevens pulls runner-up card in the desert

Erica Enders-Stevens reaches final round in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Progressing through the elimination ladder once again, reining World Champion Erica Enders-Stevens came up one win light short of victory at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Taking on No. 16 Joey Grose in the first round of final eliminations, Enders-Stevens was able to power her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on with a win after Grose experienced an issue with his car early in the run.

In the second round against Greg Anderson, Enders-Stevens cut a .013 light and never looked back, running a 6.570 to beat Anderson’s 6.603 and advance to her second semifinal of the year.

However, the semifinal round was a tight battle in which both her and Chris McGaha had almost identical reaction times, her .027 to his .026. McGaha’s car stepped out and swerved partway down the track though, allowing Enders-Stevens to cruise on to her first final-round appearance of the 2015 season.

“What a great weekend for Elite Motorsports and Elite Performance,” Enders-Stevens said. “It speaks volumes for our team, how hard they work and their determination for perfection. To be three of the final four cars two weeks in a row is unreal. The morale is awesome around here. It’s three different groups but it’s really one team.

“I know I talk about my team a lot, but that’s the most important part of the puzzle. We certainly have a great group of guys, and I couldn’t be more blessed to be a part of it.”

After battling with Brogdon all weekend for the top spot in qualifying, Enders-Stevens had one more showdown with her fellow Elite Performance driver in the final round. Enders-Stevens killed the Christmas Tree with a .017 reaction time and was out in front until an untimely mechanical issue reared its head and Brogdon passed her at the line for the win.

“We’re having a blast,” Enders-Stevens said. “Did I want to win? Absolutely. It’s so hard to get to a final round in Pro Stock, so to give one away it sucks. I am very happy for Rodger though. We’re glad to have him on board as part of our team. He had the fastest car all weekend and he deserved to win.

“We were going after it in the final. I was up on the wheel and on the Tree, and we just had an unfortunate miss in the car. It’s one of those loses that kind of burns a little bit because all we had to do was get down the racetrack and we would have won. God had a better plan though, and it was Rodger’s day.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series action will continue with the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 12-15, at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Fla.

Enders-Stevens heads into Sunday No. 1 in Phoenix

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in Phoneix

PHOENIX (Feb. 21) — Nothing is slowing down Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens this weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, where she looks to continue her title defense from the No. 1 qualifying spot during tomorrow’s final eliminations at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.

“It’s been a great start to the year for our entire Elite Motorsports team, at least a better start to the year than we had in 2014,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m really proud of the guys, especially with how much we’ve struggled so far. We’ve been able to post two No. 1 qualifying positions, but at the same time we’ve struggled behind the scenes. I’m really proud of their determination and perseverance. It’s just really exciting for me to be on the pole going into Sunday.”

Posting her fastest time of the weekend during Q2 Friday of 6.545 seconds at 211.20 mph, Enders-Stevens just edged out fellow Elite Performance-powered racer Rodger Brogdon simply on speed. Even through two more qualifying sessions Saturday, Enders-Stevens was able to keep her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on top of the leaderboard, lining her up against No. 16 Joey Grose in round one.

“When I unclutched it in that final session tonight, it felt the best it has felt since we starting racing in all of 2015, test sessions included,” Enders-Stevens said. “I went out there in third gear and it deadheaded, so the G-meter dropped off and it slammed the nose of the car down. It was just a shame because we would have blown the scoreboard up with that run for sure.

“It definitely started off to be a really great run, and to be able to still put 211 mph after you slam the nose of the car is crazy. It’s basically like you’re driving on the freeway and you put the car in park. Even with that, I’m not worried about tomorrow. In fact, I’m very optimistic after how the car launched in the final session today.”

While Enders-Stevens and her entire team are optimistic about the results they are seeing so far, they feel like there is still more horsepower under the hood.

“Any time you can go run on a national event track within a month or so of the race, it’s ideal to be able to collect data,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s exactly what we did. Our test by no means was great here but we learned a lot, and I think we were able to translate that to the race this weekend.

“It’s not an easy task to get one of these cars down the racetrack from a crew chief, crewmember, or even a driver standpoint. We certainly have a lot to be optimistic about. However, this by no means is the end of our road as far as performance is concerned. We’re still not pleased with where we are at, and we’re going to continue to dig deep and work hard at it.”

Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

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