Posts Tagged Pomona

Pro Stock champion Erica Enders not resting on laurels in final race of 2015

NHRA Drag Racing

POMONA, CA — The 2015 Pro Stock championship belongs to Erica Enders and the Elite Motorsports team, but don’t think for a second that Enders will coast her way through the Auto Club NHRA Finals this weekend at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Enders wrapped up her second consecutive Pro Stock championship in Las Vegas two weeks ago, winning her ninth race of the season, but she and her team want win No. 10.

“We’re all racers, and we all grew up at the racetrack,” Enders said. “I started in a Jr. Dragster. (Co-crew chief) Rickie Jones was at the track when he was a little kid as well. We stay hungry because it’s our passion and we want to be the best.

“My guys are perfectionists. We go out and make an excellent run and win the race, then come back and analyze the data and say, ‘We needed to do this and that.’ They just want to be perfect. Even though we were the best that day (in Vegas), they want to get better.

“I’m the same way as a driver. I want to go in and just do the best that I can for the guys that work so incredibly hard for me. We accomplished what we wanted to as far as the championship is concerned. That pressure is off of us, but we definitely want to go out there and finish the season strong.”

Enders and her Elite team have made an amazing run in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs. Enders has three victories and four final-round appearances in the five Countdown races, proof that championship athletes perform their best when under pressure.

She heads to Pomona on a two-race winning streak, too, having won in Dallas before clinching the title with the victory in Vegas.

“All this stuff is so storybook, so awesome,” Enders said. “I’m really blessed to be a part of a great team and great organization at Elite Motorsports. Our season’s not over yet. We get to go to Pomona and plan on winning that one, too. We’ll see how it goes.”

Enders’ two-year run at Elite Motorsports includes two championships, 15 race victories, and 12 No. 1 qualifiers.

“My career took a turn for the best when I joined Richard Freeman and Elite Motorsports,” Enders said. “It just goes to show that with the right people, anything is possible. Money and sponsorship doesn’t hurt, horsepower doesn’t hurt, but those things don’t win races, those things don’t win championships. It’s been proven over and over again because the wealthiest guys in the sport haven’t been able to get it done.

“We run on a very limited budget and we’ve been able to do it. It’s just the right group of people in the right places. We have great team chemistry, we’ve jelled so well, we work well together, we trust each other. Most importantly, we have fun. Having that much fun, I feel like it makes us even more successful on the racetrack. It has been a whirlwind to have been able to win (15) Pro Stock races in (two) years. It’s crazy. I had always hoped, but I never thought it would happen. Just goes to show that God’s timing is perfect.”

Enders-Stevens begins title defense with semifinal showing in Pomona

Enders-Stevens reaches semi finals at 2015 Winternationals

POMONA, CA (Feb. 8) — Elite Motorsports turned in another impressive performance at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, though 2014 Pro Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens didn’t have the Circle K Winternationals end the way she wanted.

Enders-Stevens, who won the title here last November by winning the race, bowed out in the semifinals; however, she was one of three Elite-powered drivers to reach the semifinals. Rookie Drew Skillman, Enders-Stevens’ teammate, raced to the final round, and Rodger Brogdon used an Elite engine to get to the semi’s.

“It was a great day for Elite, that’s for sure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had three cars in the semifinals with mine, Drew’s, and Rodger Brogdon’s, so that’s a great accomplishment for the team. It bodes well for the rest of the year, for sure.”

Enders-Stevens was the No. 1 qualifier in Pomona, and she opened her title defense by beating Matt Hartford in the first round, 6.548 seconds at 211.43 mph to 6.651 at 208.78 mph.

Then, Enders-Stevens dumped No. 8 qualifier Chris McGaha on a holeshot in Round 2. Her .035-second reaction time gave her a .011-second lead and it held up. His pass was quicker, 6.565 seconds at 210.73 mph, but her run of 6.569 seconds at 211.36 mph held him off.

Skillman then turned the tables on Enders-Stevens in the semi’s, using a .015 light and 6.590 at 210.41 mph to beat her 6.573-second run at 211.53 mph.

“That’s probably the worst way to lose, but if it had to happen to anybody, I’m glad it was to Drew,” Enders-Stevens said. “I am happy for him. How cool is it for him to go to a final round in his first race? Good for him.”

Despite ending her race early, Enders-Stevens knows her team has what it takes to compete for race wins and the championship.

“It’s a long season, and we know you can’t win a championship in the first race,” Enders-Stevens said. “We showed we still have great horsepower by qualifying No. 1, so we’ll go to Phoenix with our heads held high. I have the best guys in the business, and they bust their butts for me. Maybe there I can return the favor.”

Up next for the Elite Motorsports team is the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Feb. 20-22, in Phoenix.

Defending champ Enders-Stevens starts 2015 from No. 1 spot in Pomona

Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 at Pomona NHRA season opener

POMONA, CA. (Feb. 7) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens is starting the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season the same way she ended 2014: On top.

Enders-Stevens claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the same track where she claimed the Pro Stock championship last November.

“Pomona obviously holds a lot of great memories,” Enders-Stevens said. “I can’t believe we’re back here already, but it’s great to be back and be fast.”

Enders-Stevens grabbed her 13th career No. 1 qualifier with a pass of 6.516 seconds at 213.10 mph. After failing to make a full pass in either of Friday’s two qualifying sessions, she and her team stepped up in Q3.

“That’s a little nerve-wracking if you drive a Pro Stock car,” Enders-Stevens said. “You’re uncertain of track conditions, so you have to be a little conservative to make sure you get down. But my guys stepped up, as they always do, and we made a great run.”

The rest of the Pro Stock class took their best shots but were unable to get around Enders-Stevens’ No. 1 Chevrolet. When rain washed out the final session, she locked up the top spot.

“We were able to stay No. 1,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s all that matters for my Elite Motorsports team. I wish we would have gotten that last run because we wanted to try some things, but tomorrow should be a good day.”

Enders-Stevens and her team struggled to adapt to two rules changes for 2015, as NHRA mandated a new tire and new fuel, but crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones hit on a good combination during testing earlier this week.

“It was very interesting but we figured it out,” Enders-Stevens said. “We made two full hits in Phoenix, and then we were able to come here. Going into Sunday with only one run under your belt isn’t ideal, but I know if anybody can do it, we can. I’ve got the best guys in the world, and I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings.”

Enders-Stevens begins her defense of the 2014 championship against No. 16 qualifier Matt Hartford, who qualified with a pass of 6.611 seconds at 208.59 mph.

Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday.

Enders-Stevens begins defense of 2014 Pro Stock championship

2014-champ

POMONA, CA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens will begin to defend her 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock world championship this weekend at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

But not much has changed in Enders-Stevens’ mind as she and her team prepare for the Winternationals.

“I guess it really hasn’t completely sunk in because some days it’ll just cross my mind and I can’t believe it,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s pretty cool. The off-season is busy as always, no different than any other. We’re hard at work trying to find money and horsepower.”

Though she hasn’t raced since her triumphant victory in the final round of the final race of 2014, Enders-Stevens remains as focused as ever at the task at hand: Doing her job, one round at a time.

“I haven’t gotten unfocused,” Enders-Stevens said. “What we accomplished last year doesn’t change anything ever. It’s a great accomplishment and really cool, but you can go from hero to zero really quick, week in and week out. I learned that a long time ago. We’ve got our work cut out for us, and we’re going to swing for the fences just like we did last year.”

Enders-Stevens, 31, won her first world championship with a stellar season that included six victories, six No. 1 qualifiers, and national elapsed-time and speed records.

But the championship was in doubt until the final round in Pomona, where Enders-Stevens won the race and the title when Jason Line red-lit.

Now, she returns to the site of her championship brandishing the No. 1 on the side of her Chevrolet Camaro.

“We’re the defending world champions, and it’s a pretty awesome place to be,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been in this situation before, and we’re really excited and honored to carry the No. 1 this year. It’ll be a memorable year, and we’re going to go to Pomona and give it our all and hopefully carry the No. 1 into 2016 also. That’s everyone’s goal.

“We know the target is on our back, for sure, but to be honest it’s been on our back. I don’t know if anything has changed. Last year, we had a very dominant car, and when some people would race us, they’d swing for the fences both performance-wise and from the driver’s seat.

“I don’t think anything will change from our angle,” Enders-Stevens added. “We’re going to stay focused on racing our car and our lane.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Enders-Stevens crowned 2014 Pro Stock champion after NHRA Finals win

Erica Enders-Stevens hoists NHRA Championship trophy

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 16) — Taking fate into her own hands, Erica Enders-Stevens not only captured her sixth win of the season at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals but also the title of 2014 NHRA Pro Stock World Champion.

Surpassing Larry Morgan and Rodger Brogdon in the first two rounds of competition, Enders-Stevens’ Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro continued to step up round after round. But after both her and Jonathan Gray had perfect .000 lights in the semifinals, it was obvious Enders-Stevens wasn’t going down without a fight, advancing to the final round with a 6.494-second pass.

With the championship on the line during the final-round matchup against Jason Line, Enders-Stevens sealed the deal. Both drivers turned on the red bulb, implementing the “first or worst” rule, and Enders-Stevens’ -.002 reaction time beat out Line’s -.011 and secured her first season title.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Enders-Stevens said, “and that’s perfect proof that with the right group of people anything is possible and that’s all through God. I’ve got the right group, a group that stands behind me, and we have a blast together. That’s what it’s all about. Win, lose, or draw we love each other and that’s all that matters.”

Enders-Stevens beats Jason Line for 2014 Pro Stock Championship

Already with numerous accomplishments in the record books, Enders-Stevens joins Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey on an elite list of female NHRA champions.

“They are heroes of mine,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m so thankful for their help and support in this venture. It means a lot to me to have my name on a list with Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey. They’re incredible racers and incredible women.

“What a blessing; this is awesome.”

Starting the dream season with a fresh start at Elite Motorsports, Enders-Stevens always knew that they were capable of going all the way. Her win in Pomona proved that.

“I definitely grew a lot,” Enders-Stevens said. “I learned a lot, I became better, and so did our team. I have them to thank for that. It was a long, hard year. I had to sit out two races and we were still able to accomplish this dream, and it says a lot of what we’re capable of. The sky is the limit.

“We’ve got a lot of great things happening for 2015, and I just couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”

Pro Stock points leader Enders-Stevens ready to make history in Pomona

Erica Enders-Stevens during Friday qualifying at Pomona

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 15) — A fast Royal Purple Chevrolet race car, a solid Elite Motorsports team, confidence in herself, and legions of fans have Erica Enders-Stevens poised to make history.

On Saturday Enders-Stevens qualified No. 3 for the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway, and she carries a 19-point lead in the Pro Stock points standings into final eliminations at the season finale.

“What a blessing to be in the position that we’re in,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s going to come down to the wire, and it’s going to be a dogfight. I’ve got a good feeling and I’m happy.”

Enders-Stevens was terrific throughout the four qualifying sessions with a best pass of 6.526 seconds at 211.99 mph. She was quickest in two of the sessions and second-quickest in the other two as she chases the first Pro Stock championship of her career.

“The car’s great and it’s been good every run,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’re nit-picking thousandths of a second here and there and we’re happy. We’ve got a very consistent race car, and that’s what it takes on Sundays to win.

“We’ll go out there and do our best tomorrow, let the clutch pedal out on time, shift the car well, go A to B, and it could be a very good day. I feel confident and I’m excited.”

Enders-Stevens and Jason Line, who is in second place in the points standings, are on opposite sides of the ladder, so the championship could go down to the final round.

Should Enders-Stevens hang on to the championship lead, she would join Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey as the only female world champions in NHRA history and would become the first female world champ in Pro Stock.

She’s already had a stellar season, with five victories in six final-round appearances and six No. 1 qualifiers. She stormed back to the points lead in Las Vegas two weeks ago with a win from the No. 1 qualifying spot.

This weekend, her pit area has been swarmed with race fans trying to get a glimpse of the would-be champion.

“The fans have been incredible,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve spent hours at the back of the pit signing autographs and talking to people. I feel like I’ve got a lot of people pulling for us, which is really awesome. It shows, too, when we tow back to our pit in front of the grandstands. They’re hooting and hollering.

“I’ve been trying to take it all in because I know one day it will all disappear. I’m having the time of my life right now.”

Enders-Stevens begins her Sunday against No. 13 qualifier Larry Morgan, who made a top pass of 6.583 seconds at 209.30 mph.

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

With the Pro Stock title in sight, Enders-Stevens is focused on having fun

ees-bristol-wally

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 10) — Even with the NHRA Pro Stock championship on the line during this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the No. 1 goal for Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team is to have fun.

That has been the goal since Enders-Stevens joined the team this year, and it has paid off with five victories and the points lead heading into the season finale. And there’s no reason to change now.

“It’s such an awesome environment to work in, and (team owner) Richard Freeman is just an awesome guy to work for,” Enders-Stevens said. “He’s great at managing people, making everyone feel important, and at communication. We have team meetings, and we all always just stay on the same page. I think that’s how you make any relationship work, whether it be business or marriage or whatever.

“He’s done a really great job with that, and he’s made it very evident that if we’re not having fun, we’re not going to do it. We have a blast together.”

Winning helps that attitude, of course, but Enders-Stevens and her team are always smiling and joking no matter what. That positive outlook has helped through some trying times this season and enabled Enders-Stevens to bounce back from losing the points lead to regain it at the most recent race in Las Vegas.

Enders-Stevens is 17 points ahead of second-place Jason Line heading into Pomona after she beat Line in the Vegas semifinal before winning the race.

“People are the most important part of the puzzle, and Richard has certainly organized an elite group of people,” Enders-Stevens said. “Rick and Rickie Jones as my crew chiefs and all of the guys that work on my car, it’s just awesome, and we do have a blast whether we’re out to eat or at the racetrack winning and losing together. It’s always a fun time.”

But they take racing seriously, too, as shown by their terrific season to date. She has led the points standings for 13 of the 23 events so far in 2014, even after skipping two Western Swing races to prepare for the end of the year. In addition to the five wins, Enders-Stevens has raced to one other final round and four semifinal appearances.

Plus, she has scored six No. 1 qualifiers, including the last three in a row. In 18 of her 21 races this year, she has qualified in the top three 18 times.

All those numbers could add up to Enders-Stevens becoming the first female champion in the history of Pro Stock.

“Yeah, it’s certainly a huge feat to accomplish,” Enders-Stevens said. “I would have my name on a list with just Shirley Muldowney and Angelle (Sampey), and those are two of my heroes. To be able to have the opportunity to get it done is awesome in itself.

“At the same time I think any female racer will tell you that we just want to be looked at as a driver. The car doesn’t know the difference in gender, and it certainly doesn’t matter to me, but at the end of the day I guess it would be very awesome to be able to make history and just show any other females that maybe even had a little bit of doubt that they weren’t capable or whatever that I’m a perfect example of a normal kid — through hard work and certainly surrounding myself with the right people and having such a solid support group — that anything is possible, and I hope that’s the message that comes across to them.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry qualifying and elimination action.

Winternationals Performance Shows Promise for Enders-Stevens and Elite Motorsports

Enders-Stevens crossing finish line at Pomona 2014

POMONA, CA — During the opening race of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Erica Enders-Stevens and Elite Motorsports proved their Chevy Camaro will be a threat this year among the Pro Stock ranks.

After a shaky Friday afternoon of qualifying that included an aborted run, the team rallied back Saturday to qualify 5th during the Circle K NHRA Winternationals from Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

“We were a little rocky at the get-go,” said Erica. “But by Saturday we were jamming and it felt good to put up a number we knew we were capable of. I’m very happy with the car and how the team has come together. We’re having a blast.”

The strong performance continued when the Elite Motorsports Camaro posted the third fastest pass during the opening round of Sunday eliminations.

Erica drove to a 6.540 at 212.13 mph to advance over Deric Kramer’s 6.554 at 210.37 in Round 1. However it was her quarterfinal match-up against V. Gaines that would put a close to the weekend.

In spite of a solid 6.544 second pass at 211.66 mph, Erica came up short against Gaines’ quicker 6.527 at 212.29 mph.

Gaines would eventually knock out number one qualifier Vincent Nobile before falling to event winner Jason Line in the final round.

“Hats off to V.,” said Erica. “He’s one of the other single car teams out here keeping us all on notice. He had the ET, out-drove us to the stripe, and got us that time, but we’ll be back in Phoenix.”

Erica and Elite Motorsports head to Phoenix in two weeks to the refreshed and renamed Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, where last year Erica took home her 5th Pro Stock Wally in a holeshot victory over Mike Edwards.

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