Posts Tagged Qualifying

Title push continues with Enders-Stevens locking up No. 1 spot in Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (Nov. 1) — The Pro Stock championship charge of drag racing superstar Erica Enders-Stevens continued Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the 31-year-old securing her third straight and sixth overall No. 1 qualifying effort of the 2014 season.

Enders, who entered then weekend 35 points behind class leader Jason Line, managed to make up eight markers in qualifying, closing the gap to 27 points, but the Texan knows the real damage can be done in eliminations, where each round is worth 20 points.

“There was still some left in that last run that ended up putting us on the pole,” Enders said. “We’ve got to piece it together even better tomorrow, be consistent, and go A to B every run. If I let the clutch out on time, we can go to the winner’s circle with this Elite Motorsports Camaro. We’ve all got to do our jobs and not get ahead of ourselves.”

Aside from her four victories, 13 races atop the points standings, and six No. 1 qualifying efforts, Enders-Stevens has qualified in the top three another 12 times.

“That’s pretty neat,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve had six No. 1s and eight No. 2s, and several of those second-place efforts we just barely missed being on top. It’s definitely the most No. 1s in one season in my career by far. It just goes to show what this team is capable of.

“Being able to get the top spot in the fashion we did it today was pretty exciting because all the cars were hauling out there. I was optimistic going into the last round. Analyzing the data from the three previous runs, we hadn’t killed it yet. That was really encouraging, so we were able to get after it on that last run.”

For her efforts, Enders-Stevens will open race day against first-timer Jeff Isbell, who ran a best of 6.829 seconds at 204.29 mph. Should they both advance through the earlier rounds, she could face Line in the semifinals.

“I’m really excited and really proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “All of this is so monumental to me. This is 10 years that we’ve worked to get to this point and it’s all coming together. Regardless of how the year ends, I’m just really proud of my team.”

Eliminations for the Pro Stock class will begin at noon. ESPN2 will carry all of the action.

Leading lady Enders-Stevens continues Vegas reign

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LAS VEGAS (Oct. 31) – Looking to grab her third No. 1 qualifier in a row and sixth of the season, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens ended Friday’s first two qualifying sessions for the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on top of the leaderboard.

Laying down a fast time of 6.647 seconds at 208.01 mph, the Royal Purple Camaro continues to earn to earn those crucial qualifying bonus points.

“I’m really proud of my entire Elite Motorsports team,” Enders-Stevens said. “Those baby points are going to matter. They’re very significant, especially with as tight as Jason (Line), Dave (Connolly) and myself are right now. Glad to end the day with four.

“We were really conservative the first session. If you look at our 60-foor time, we were ninth and then went straight to the top of the page. We’ll throw something at it tomorrow and see what happens.”

Entering the Las Vegas race second in points, 35 outof the lead, Enders-Stevens wants to gain as many of those extra points as possible when she can. However, Enders-Stevens is more focused on having fun the remainder of the season and letting the chips fall where they may.

“I try to not focus on what’s out there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We all know what’s at stake, and of course I want that more than anything – and so does my team. But coming here, three weeks out of the car is a significant time. I feel like it’s been a year, but I’m glad to be back in the race car.

“The mindset is the same as any other race, the same as it was when we walked in the gate here in the spring race. It’s take it one round at a time and do the best we can.

“We had a team meeting, and my team owner, Richard (Freeman) said, ‘We’re going to stick to our main game plan as when we started this year. That’s to have fun. No stress, no drama.’ We’ve been able to do that all year long, and there are two races left, and we’re going to continue it.”

After sweeping the Las Vegas race weekend earlier in the year with both a Sunday win and the K&N Horsepower Challenge win, Enders-Stevens is glad to be picking back up where she left off last.

“I’m excited about the weekend,” Enders-Stevens. “I felt good when we walked in the gate here today, and it’s a really exciting time for us all. This is the first time any of us have been in this position. We’re going to try to execute the best we can and let God do the rest.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1 and 4 p.m. PT, Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Near-Record Run Puts Enders-Stevens on Top of Reading’s Pro Stock Heap

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 4) — Erica Enders-Stevens came within two thousandths of a second of her own NHRA national record Saturday night, running a lightning-quick 6.465-second, 213.16-mph quarter-mile pass down historic Maple Grove Raceway to earn her fifth low qualifier award of the 2014 season.

The stunning performance comes at a pivotal time for Enders-Stevens as she continues to chase down current points leader Jason Line with just three national events left on the schedule.

“Every point matters in this championship countdown and if we can run just a little bit quicker tomorrow and reset the national record one more time than we’d get 20 bonus points, which would be huge,” said Enders-Stevens, who held the points lead for a class-leading 13 races this year. “No matter what, we gained some ground with all the qualifying bonus points we’ve already picked up so we’re already pretty happy.

“It got cooler overnight and Rick and Rickie (Jones, father/son co-crew chiefs) did an awesome job of reading the conditions and getting after the track in Q4. We missed the record by two thou but it was a pretty big thrill any way. Normally Rickie gets on the radio and tells me what I’ve run after I throw the ‘chutes but this time he was just screaming so I knew we’d made a good pass. I starting screaming myself.”

Enders-Stevens entered this event 67 points, or about three rounds of action, behind Line. Her Elite Motorsports Camaro was the quickest car in three of the four qualifying sessions and second quickest in the other, yielding her 11 bonus points. Line earned just one bonus point during qualifying.

“We’re less than three rounds behind him now and with a national record pending we could be even closer,” Enders-Stevens said. “My team owner (Richard Freeman) reminded me right after the run that we already have the back-up run in place to set a national record so now all we have to do is go out there and do it.

“Of course that’s easier said than done and if we can run the record than a few other cars can as well so we won’t count any points until we have them. The bottom line is we need to go rounds tomorrow and try to win. If we can do that and set the record as well then we could have a big day. I do know that I’m on the best team with the best crew in the sport. I’m a lucky girl and I’m loving every minute of this season.”

Stevens has four victories this year in five final-round showings. She’ll begin her quest for another Wally trophy opposite No. 16 qualifier Frank Gugliotta, who topped out at 6.599 at 208.68 mph. Eliminations begin at noon with action being carried on ESPN2.

No Slowing Down for Enders-Stevens during NHRA Nationals Qualifying

Erica Enders-Stevens | Maple Grove Raceway | Reading, PA

READING, Pa. (Oct. 3) — Slowly cutting into the deficit of the Pro Stock points leader, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens captured the No. 1 spot late in qualifying Friday for the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

Earning critical bonus points during both rounds of qualifying, Enders-Stevens ended Q1 No. 2 after a solid 6.541-second pass at 211.30 mph. It wasn’t until Q2 that her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro landed in the top spot with low e.t. and top speed of the day, a 6.513 at 211.76 mph.

“All those baby points are definitely helpful at this crucial point in the Countdown,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m really excited and really proud of my team. We had a couple issues in the first round but we also wanted to go out there and be conservative considering there is a chance of weather tomorrow. We didn’t want to be on the outside looking in, so we got in a good baseline run in the first round. We were able to stay No. 2 then, but then we were able to go out there and go after it in the next round.

“I’m really proud of my crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones; they do a great job. All my guys just work so hard, so it’s really nice when a big number comes up on the scoreboard like that. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Looking to bag her fifth No. 1 qualifier of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello season, Enders-Stevens is confident that there is still more Elite Motorsports horsepower under her hood to get the job done Saturday. With weather looming though, there is a chance for a record-setting day at Maple Grove Raceway for the team.

“The Pro Stock Motorcycles are the same as us,” Enders-Stevens said. “When they run well, we run well. We’re naturally aspirated, so our cars like cool, dry air. I think the rain should be out of here by the mid-morning, so we’re expecting some cooler temperatures. If the air dries up the weather will definitely be conducive for some record-setting runs. I talked about it being a crucial time in the Countdown right now, and to reset the e.t. record is an extra 20 bonus points.

“You never really know with the weather; it could be the same as it is today or after the storm it could be really humid and it won’t be conducive at all. We’ll just have to see what the good Lord deals us as far as weather goes and we’ll set up accordingly. I’m really excited, optimistic, and proud of my team.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 11:15 and 2:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Dominant Qualifying Performance Puts Enders-Stevens in Position for Gateway Three-Peat

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (Sept. 27) — Erica Enders-Stevens capped off a dominant performance in qualifying with the No. 1 spot for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in all four qualifying sessions, including her 6.511-second pass at 213.03 mph in Q4 that earned her a fourth No. 1 this season and 10th in her career.

“We were trying to be consistent and have a nice race-day setup for tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said of her pole-winning pass. “The air was similar to qualifying pass No. 3 and pretty similar to yesterday’s as well, so it was conducive for us to go. We talked about it before, for us to go a high .50, low .51, and we were able to accomplish just that.

“I’m really proud of my team. They’ve given me a consistent race car and a fast one at that. I’m excited about tomorrow.”

Sweeping the top spot in each of the four sessions also earned Enders-Stevens 12 qualifying bonus points and unofficially moved her to third in the Pro Stock standings, 47 markers out of the lead.

“We’ve had four really nice runs that we’re proud of,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are definitely ways to nitpick it and improve but Q4 was a good run. I knew when I let the clutch out on that last run.”

Enders-Stevens faces No. 16 qualifier Larry Morgan in the first round Sunday after Morgan made a best pass of 6.612 seconds at 209.95 mph. She’s gunning for her third consecutive victory in St. Louis.

Gateway could be a pivotal race in the Countdown to the Championship, as eight of the Countdown drivers are in the top half of the field. Plus, Gateway marks the halfway point of the six-race playoffs.

“We’ve got a stout group of players out there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us. Our side of the ladder is packed with all three of the Gray (Motorsports) cars, and two of them are in front of us in the points standings.

“We get a shot to control our own destiny tomorrow. We’re going to focus one round at a time. I know I keep saying that, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.

“I’m excited and obviously a positive attitude has a lot to do with it. We’re going to go into tomorrow swinging for it. At this point, we look at it as it’s ours to lose. We’ve just got to do our jobs.”

St. Louis Continues to be Elite Track for Enders-Stevens

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 26) — The love affair with Gateway Motorsports Park continued Friday for Pro Stock racer Erica Enders-Stevens.

The Elite Motorsports driver, who is gunning for her third consecutive Pro Stock victory at Gateway, earned the provisional No. 1 qualifier for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals with a blistering pass of 6.513 seconds at 212.90 mph.

“I love St. Louis; I have since I was a little girl,” Enders-Stevens said. “Coming here and racing in the Sportsman ranks, we had a couple of semifinal finishes in Super Comp and Super Gas. That’s pretty neat when you have a 100-count field.

“I’ve just always liked coming here, and when they brought the races back here in 2012, we were able to win then and in 2013 as well. We’re hoping for a three-peat this year.

“I’m not really sure what it is but there are just some tracks that are really good to certain drivers. I’m glad that this is one of them and I’m certainly glad that it’s in the Countdown at the moment. Day by day, we’ll see how it goes.”

Enders-Stevens’ top pass came in the first qualifying session, and she was hoping for an even quicker run in Q2.

“After that first session we were pleased with the numbers we saw up on the board,” Enders-Stevens said. “That was pretty evident when the No. 2 qualifier was a solid three-hundredths behind us. I’m really proud of my team. We went out there and made some changes for (Q2) and obviously missed it a little bit but should have, could have, would have.

“There was definitely a high .49, low .50 in the car, so we’ll go back and assess and see what happens tomorrow. I’m excited though.”

Two more qualifying sessions are on the schedule for Saturday, when Enders-Stevens could earn her fourth No. 1 of 2014 and 10th of her career.

But perhaps more important is the opportunity to add more qualifying bonus points. Enders-Stevens was quickest in the second session (6.413 seconds at 212.26 mph), earning six bonus points total on Friday.

Enders-Stevens came to Gateway fourth in the points standings after two of the six Countdown to the Championship races, trailing leader Jason Line by 59 points.

“(Qualifying points) are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “I know I said it before but these baby points are going to be like thousandths of a second in Pro Stock racing out there on Sunday. Every little point matters, especially coming into this race. We’re only nine points behind third, 16 behind second, and three rounds behind first, so they all add up.

“We’re just going to take it one round at a time, one run at a time, day by day and do the best job that we can do.”

Enders-Stevens Goes for Texas Sweep in Dallas

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DALLAS (Sept. 20) — Texas native Erica Enders-Stevens will go for the Lone Star sweep during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Sunday at Texas Motorplex with her Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet.

Enders-Stevens won at her home track, Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, in April. She’ll chase the Texas two-step from the No. 6 qualifying spot on Sunday.

“Tomorrow is going to be the hottest, sunniest day of all,” Enders-Stevens said. “We obviously performed well in those conditions. I’m optimistic about tomorrow, and the ladder looks nice. We’ll see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens, debuting Mach 1 colors in Dallas, can’t win two races this weekend, as she dropped a second-round match on Saturday to Shane Gray in a continuation of the postponed NHRA Carolinas Nationals from zMax Dragway.

That came after making the third-quickest pass in Dallas’ first qualifying session Friday and then beating John Gaydosh in the Charlotte first round during Dallas Q2.

Enders-Stevens left first on Gaydosh and never trailed, making a pass of 6.603 seconds at 206.29 mph to Gaydosh’s 6.662-second run at 207.53 mph.

“We made a decent run but definitely had some left in it,” Enders-Stevens said of Q1. “Going up for Q2, which is the first round of eliminations from Charlotte, we had a little bit of a different mindset because it’s hard to go from qualifying to race mode in what really should be a qualifying session. We did all right.”

Enders-Stevens, the No. 1 qualifier from Charlotte, then faced Gray, the No. 8 qualifier. Gray was given lane choice based on his performance in Friday’s qualifying session, not Charlotte eliminations.

“NHRA made a rule change on the lane choice aspect of it, which was very detrimental to our team,” Enders-Stevens said. “Obviously, it was a one-lane race facility, and that was the end of that. It’s unfortunate that things were handled that way when the championship is on the line, but it is what it is.”

To make matters worse for Enders-Stevens, several single-car runs were made, all in the preferred right lane. Gray chose that lane, putting Enders-Stevens in the left lane.

“Lane choice is crucial,” Enders-Stevens said. “Friday it wasn’t; both lanes were pretty equal. Today, though, before the second round of eliminations, they ran several singles in the right lane, then drug the track and sent us out. Nobody had run in front of that person in the left lane.”

Enders-Stevens left first with a .025-second lead, but her red Camaro made an immediate right turn, and she had to push the clutch in as Gray sped to the victory.

“We lost that round, and we turned everything back around and came out for Q4 and made a decent run for the heat of the day,” Enders-Stevens said. “It was a 130-degree racetrack and really tricky out there. We definitely had some left in it on that run.”

That turned out to be her best pass of the weekend, 6.590 seconds at 210.74 mph, to move her to sixth in the qualifying order. She’ll line up against No. 11 qualifier Rodger Brogdon, whose best pass was 6.615 seconds at 209.79 mph.

“It’s going to be a toss-up tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to really monitor the weather and the track conditions and base our tune-up accordingly. We’ll be all right. I’ve got two of the best crew chiefs in the pits and the best team out here. I’m excited and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Enders-Stevens unofficially remains second in the Pro Stock standings, 59 points behind leader Jason Line after one of six races in the Countdown to the Championship.

Enders-Stevens Qualifies No. 1 in Charlotte as Countdown to the Championship Begins

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE (Sept. 13) — Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens stormed to her third No. 1 qualifier of the season with an impressive performance during the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in both sessions Saturday, capping off her qualifying dominance with a pass of 6.568 seconds at 210.37 mph to earn her ninth career No. 1 and first in Charlotte.

“Things feel better,” Enders-Stevens said. “I stated on Friday that the car was acting right again, and we seem to have our ducks a little bit more in a row than we had at Indy and Brainerd (Minn.). It couldn’t have come at a better time, being that this is the start of the Countdown (to the Championship).

“I also talked about how important it is to start off on the right foot, and the first two days have gone smoothly and I’m hopeful that will continue tomorrow.”

Enders-Stevens was quickest in each of the four qualifying sessions, earning 12 bonus points and helping cut into Jason Line’s lead.

“The points you’re awarded for running low e.t. of every qualifying session, those all add up,” Enders-Stevens said. “We acquired 12 of them this weekend, and Jason, who’s ahead of me in points, got two, so we picked up on him. That’s so, so crucial with only 24 rounds of racing left.”

After the points were reset following the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Line carried a 30-point lead on Enders-Stevens and the rest of the Pro Stock top 10, but Enders-Stevens has already cut that by a third, getting within a round of the lead. Twenty points are awarded for every round-win in NHRA competition.

Enders-Stevens begins pursuit of her fifth victory of the season with a first-round race against John Gaydosh, who was the No. 16 qualifier with a top pass of 6.697 seconds at 206.39 mph.

“Hat’s off to my team, my crew chiefs, and all the guys who worked their tails off to give me a great, consistent race car,” Enders-Stevens said. “That track was pretty tricky this afternoon, being as hot as it was, and they nailed the tune-up. I’m really excited going into Sunday.”

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