Posts Tagged Pomona

With Enders-Stevens Behind the Wheel, Elite Motorsports is Primed to Defend Pomona Pro Stock Win

Erica Enders-Stevens in new Sparco Elite Motorsports fire suit

POMONA, CA — Erica Enders-Stevens and the Elite Motorsports team are set to defend last fall’s Pro Stock victory at Pomona’s Auto Club Raceway when they kick off the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals.

Erica joins Elite Motorsports, operated by Richard Freeman, along with the father-son crew chief duo of Rick and Rickie Jones, to usher in a new era for a young team that has experienced rising success in the hyper-competitive Pro Stock class.

“We spent the first half of the week testing alongside the other Pro Stock teams in Phoenix,” said Erica. “Everything has really settled in well, and it was great to spend that time as a team, learning from each other and going through the process of setting up the car and making passes. We’re confident about how things are shaping up heading into the season together.”

Elite Motorsports marks its return to Pomona after finishing last season with a trip to the winner’s circle during the NHRA Auto Club Finals. It was the first national event win for the team and it’s blazing red Camaro, including the first Pro Stock win for its driver, Rickie Jones.

It also made it back-to-back wins for Elite Motorsports’ engine program, led by Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston, having powered Shane Gray’s Camaro to victory in Las Vegas just two weeks earlier.

“Closing out the season like that was a huge boost for us. A lot of hard work and late hours went into getting us there,” said Richard Freeman. “It has definitely given us confidence we’re moving in the right direction, and if we keep putting in the work, we’ll do even better in 2014.”

“I’m blessed to have this opportunity with Richard and to be surrounded by a great group of guys,” said Erica. “I’m really looking forward to the season ahead and what we’ll be able to accomplish as a team.”

Qualifying sessions for the Circle K NHRA Winternationals takes place Friday and Saturday at 12:30 and 3:30 pm each day, with ESPN2’s qualifying broadcast airing from 8-10:00 pm Pacific Time Saturday night.

Sunday’s final eliminations begins at 11:00 am, with broadcast coverage on ESPN at 5-8:00 pm Pacific Time.

First-round loss won’t diminish Enders-Stevens’ solid season

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POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 10) – A first-round loss in the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Sunday at Auto Club Raceway won’t diminish the accomplishments of Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Enders-Stevens finished sixth in the Pro Stock points standings after a season in which she missed six races with her Cagnazzi Racing team because of sponsorship issues. With a partnership with Husky Liners, Enders-Stevens returned for the six-race Countdown to the Championship, winning in St. Louis and moving as high as fourth in points.

“I was blessed to be able to make the Countdown and finish the year,” said Enders-Stevens, who won two races in 2013. “It certainly wasn’t an ideal situation by any means, but we did the best we could with what we had. It’s a cruel world out here, but I’m remaining positive and optimistic through all of the hard times. That’s important to do, and I can only hope next year will be better.”

Enders-Stevens goes into the off-season on a positive note after enjoying a fun weekend in Pomona. She appeared on KTLA 5 Morning News on Friday, followed by an appearance at the Night of Champions at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum on Friday night.

“I love coming to Pomona,” Enders-Stevens said. “I love the raw history of this sport and this racetrack, and the fact that my Jr. Dragster is here in the museum is an honor for me and my family. I really enjoy being in Southern California at this race.”

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 8 and was the first pair out in her matchup with Shane Gray. Gray made a pass of 6.586 seconds at 211.03 mph while Enders-Stevens’ run was 6.595 at 211.59 mph, as Gray got the win.

“It shook and took a hard turn right,” Enders-Stevens said of her launch. “I did what I could with what I had, but when the car is out of control and gets away like that, as driver, it’s a challenge. I probably should’ve shoved the clutch in and aborted the run, but I wanted that round-win more than almost any round-win in my career. God had a different plan, and I trust in it.”

Enders-Stevens determined to end season on a positive note

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POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – A determined Erica Enders-Stevens is fired up for the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway after qualifying her Husky Liners Camaro in the No. 8 spot on Saturday.

Enders-Stevens made a top pass of 6.557 seconds at 211.43 mph in the third qualifying session and will line up against future teammate Shane Gray in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Cagnazzi Racing recently announced a merger with Gray Motorsports for 2014, though the two teams have already begun working together.

“The car is running consistent,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s not flying but it’s consistent. We’re going to have a long, hard day cut out for us tomorrow. It’s the last race day of the year. Tomorrow’s going to be a tough day for me, both on the track and off the track.”

Enders-Stevens’ future is uncertain, pending sponsorship for next season, but that uncertainty has made her more determined than ever to put in a good showing on Sunday.

“I am determined,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m determined because my future is uncertain, and I’ve got a lot to prove tomorrow.”

Gray, who qualified No. 9 with a pass of 6.567 seconds at 211.33 mph, moved ahead of Enders-Stevens in the Pro Stock points standings after his victory in Las Vegas, but she could still finish as high as second with a good Sunday.

“We’re going to practice what we preach and remain positive and optimistic about race day,” Enders-Stevens said. “First round with Shane Gray is crucial. I need to get my ground back. We’ll do our best tomorrow and see what happens.”

Pomona is one of Enders-Stevens’ favorite tracks, and she has enjoyed a fun weekend so far. On Friday night, she participated in the Night of Champions at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, spending quality time with drag racing legends Tommy Ivo and Bob Muravez.

“It’s been a good weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “Good friends, good wine, good racing. I got to see the museum and pay my Jr. Dragster a visit. I got to hang out with some legends last night and that was exciting. It’s been a fun weekend, and I’m trying to soak it all in.

“This is one of the only tracks where Pro Stock gets to come back down the return road in front of the stands, so I’ve been trying to soak all that in. I know how quickly it can all disappear. It’s been a good weekend so far.”

Eliminations at the NHRA Finals get under way at 11 a.m. PST on Sunday. ESPN2 will air eliminations starting at 7 p.m. EST.

Enders-Stevens hopes to close season in Pomona’s victory lane

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POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6) – The best way for Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens to close out the 2013 Pro Stock season would be to win the Auto Club NHRA Finals this weekend at Auto Club Raceway.

Enders-Stevens has two victories in 2013, including one during the Countdown to the Championship. She won’t win the Pro Stock title this season, but she and her Cagnazzi Racing team made a good run in NHRA’s playoffs.

“That would be the best way to close this chapter of 2013,” Enders-Stevens said of a Pomona win. “I’m excited that the Husky Liners guys will be there, and I’m so appreciative of them stepping up to the plate to allow us to compete for the championship. I’m hopeful we can end the year on a really great note. We’ll do our best and let God do the rest.”

Enders-Stevens is sixth in the Pro Stock standings and can finish as high as second. She has raced to five final rounds and has one No. 1 qualifier. So far in the Countdown, she has won at least one round in all five races and scored a victory in St. Louis.

“The year has really flown by,” Enders-Stevens said. “Every time we come back to Pomona in November, it’s incredible how fast the year has passed.

“I’m excited to go back. We’ve always qualified well in Pomona and hopefully that trend continues. The guys have been working hard at the new engine shop, and we’ll see what SoCal has in store for us.”

Enders-Stevens would love to add a Pomona victory to her resume, as she appreciates the history of Auto Club Raceway.

“I do love racing in Pomona,” Enders-Stevens said. “And every time I’m back there, I remember the first time I pulled around the corner from the staging lanes in a Pro Stock car. I think of that and it’s very humbling and surreal and exciting.”

Plus, Enders-Stevens always makes a visit to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum next door to the racetrack.

“It’s where my first Jr. Dragster is,” Enders-Stevens said, “so I’ll go by the museum and tell her hello.”

Enders-Stevens is scheduled to make an appearance on KTLA 5 Morning News with Allie Mac Kay on Friday morning and will also be part of the Night of Champions at the museum on Friday night.

Qualifying for the Auto Club NHRA Finals gets under way at 1:45 p.m. PDT on Thursday from Auto Club Raceway and continues at 1:45 p.m. on Friday and 11:45 a.m. on Saturday. Eliminations start at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 2:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday and the eliminations show at 7 p.m.

Enders Kicks off NHRA Winternationals as Top Three Qualifier, Eyes First Pro Stock Win of 2013 Mello Yello Series

Erica Enders Cobalt at 2013 Winternationals

Erica Enders Cobalt at 2013 WinternationalsPomona, CA — Driving the stealth-black GK Motorsports Cobalt that took her to four 2012 event wins, Erica Ender’s Cagnazzi Racing-powered Chevy arrived in California after a brief test session in Las Vegas… and went on to secure the 3rd qualifying spot in a cutthroat field at the 53rd Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals.

“Victor [Cagnazzi] and my guys worked hard on some new stuff this winter and it’s bearing fruit,” Enders stated. “We know we have a winner in the Cobalt, so we have a solid platform to work from while we finish preparing our new Camaro.”

Mike Edwards and V. Gaines secured the 1st and 2nd spots with a 6.528 and 6.538, respectively. Ender’s 6.539 @ 212.23 mph put her ahead of Jason Line’s 6.541. Vincent Nobile rounded out the top five with a 6.551. Defending champ Allen Johnson had trouble making a full pass during the first two sessions, qualifying 10th overall with a 6.594.

While Saturday’s warmer conditions resulted in overall slower ETs, protecting the top four spots, Enders went on to be the 2nd fastest car during the final two sessions, backing up her Friday performance and accumulating a total of six bonus points.

“We had a few things go our way early that helped us hold onto the 3rd spot, and we were able to stay one of the fastest through Saturday,” said Enders. “We’re excited to see what Sunday could mean for us.”

With the start of the season comes the start of a new series. The winner of Sunday’s race will also be the first to win a Wally in the newly-named Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

“There are some fast cars out there, and we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said crew cheif Dave Connolly. “But to get the first Pro Stock win in the new series would be a huge way to start the season.”

Erica faces Kurt Johnson in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations from Pomona’s Auto Club Raceway. Catch the action on ESPN2 starting at 8:00 pm Eastern / 5:00 pm Pacific time.

History-making year a career-best one for Enders

POMONA, CA — KLR Group driver Erica Enders hopes to repeat next year what her good friend Allen Johnson did this year.

In 2011, Johnson finished fourth in the Pro Stock points standings. This year? Johnson won the championship.

Enders finished fourth in the 2012 title race and is pumped to get next season started so she can try to complete the second half of Johnson’s accomplishment.

“We’ve got a great organization, a great team, great horsepower,” Enders said. “Next year is only going to be better. I’m really excited to get home for a few days, take a deep breath and then start testing as soon as we get back from my honeymoon.”

Enders ended 2012 with a semifinal appearance in the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway on Sunday. She had a career season, winning four races and grabbing two No. 1 qualifiers all while posting her best finish in the points standings.

Plus, after she became the first woman to win in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class – in Chicago on July 1 – boyfriend Richie Stevens proposed. Enders’ wedding is December 7, after which she will honeymoon in Hawaii.

“It’s been a great year,” Enders said.

She qualified No. 5 in Pomona and won two rounds to run her season won-loss record to 38-19. Enders beat Shane Gray in the first round, leaving first with a .020-second reaction time and then making a pass of 6.517 seconds at 212.26 mph. Gray slowed to a run of 11.826 at 75.25 mph.

Enders had another solid light in the second round against V Gaines, .022, and made a pass of 6.528 seconds at 212.43 mph, getting the victory when Gaines tripped the red light.

That matched her up against Vincent Nobile, when she maintained her consistency on the Christmas Tree with a .023-second reaction time. But Nobile got to the line first after a pass of 6.543 at 211.49 mph, beating Enders’ lap of 6.542 at 211.86 mph.

The semifinal finish was her 11th in 22 races to go along with seven final-round appearances. Her best previous finish in the points standings was sixth last year.

“I expected more – at the risk of sounding unappreciative,” Enders said. “But this is our livelihood, this is what we do, how we make our living. We had our sights set higher than where we finished, but at the same time, we finished ahead a lot of big names.

“I’d hoped to finish the year on a little bit higher note, but any way you look at it, this year has been tremendous. I’ve got a great group of people around me, and for that I’m really thankful.”

Her GK Motorsports team is a finalist for the NHRA Full Throttle Hard Working Crew award which will be given out at the NHRA Awards Ceremony on Monday night. Enders’ team won the award last year.

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