Posts Tagged Qualifying

Two-time champ and No. 4 qualifier Erica Enders looking for more Seattle success

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Seattle 2017

KENT, WA — Erica Enders was fighting for her playoff life the last time the NHRA tour passed through Pacific Raceways. This time around, she easily secured her spot in the 2017 Countdown to the Championship by simply qualifying for the elimination field of the 30th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals.

Even better, Enders is four spots better and a world away from the struggles of last season. To wit, she’s qualified a lofty fourth on this weekend’s ladder in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro and she’s one of nine different winners the class has produced in the first 15 races.

“We have a shot, that’s all we ever ask for, and certainly we’re in better shape than we were last year,” Enders said. “It’s definitely been a different feeling coming into this weekend without the pressure we had one year ago. But to be honest, we’re still not super happy. We’re better, but nowhere near where we want to be.

“It seemed like we were really onto something earlier this summer when we won Epping and that every weekend one of these Elite Motorsports cars was racing for the trophy. But we’ve found out how extremely finicky the electronic fuel injection can be. It’s been a fight, not only for us but for everyone. That’s why we’ve had so many different winners.”

After a couple of down weekends, Enders and crew found the heartbeat of their Chevrolet last weekend in Sonoma during an elimination race against good friend Bo Butner.

“We didn’t win the race but it was the first really good pass we had made in a while,” Enders said. “It gave us a new baseline tune-up that seemed to work. We came in here with something to build on and it’s worked to some extent. We’ll keep chipping away.”

A winner here in 2012, Enders’ best pass this weekend flashed a 6.575 at 210.31 mph on the Seattle scoreboards. She also ran a 6.596, a 6.614 and a 6.631 in the other three qualifying sessions.

By qualifying fourth on the modified 14-car grid, Enders first opponent on Sunday will be No. 11 qualifier Matt Hartford, who closed qualifying with his best pass of the weekend, a 6.643 at 207.46 mph. Enders opened the 2017 season by beating Hartford in Pomona in their only head-to-head meeting of the year.

“We’ve got a car that goes A-to-B, which is a big start,” Enders said. “We have a tune-up that seems to be working and we’ve got all the talent in the world in this pit. I know the guys won’t rest until we’re back running like we were in Epping.”

Pro Stock eliminations will begin at noon, Sunday. The FOX Network will broadcast the action live from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (Times are local and subject to change.)

Crowd favorite Erica Enders hoping for better results on race day in Sonoma

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Sonoma 2017

SONOMA, CA — The first two days of the 30th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals have been a bit of a struggle for two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, but that hasn’t dampened the spirits of the always popular pro from Houston.

“We definitely have an issue that we are working to fix,” Enders said after qualifying a season-low 15th on the grid with a 6.949 at 211.89 mph. “Everybody is doing all they can to figure out what the Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro wants and, so far, it’s just not translating to the scoreboard.

“The good news is that tomorrow is a new day and we will take what we have learned and try to move forward. I wouldn’t want anyone else behind me except for this Elite Motorsports crew. We go through the ups and downs of this journey together and we’ll get this fixed and move forward.”

The way Enders sees things at this point is that you must be prepared to beat everyone in the field if you hope to reign victorious on race day. She knows that anyone capable of qualifying for an NHRA national event is also capable of winning the race, so she’ll focus on what’s ahead, rather than what’s already transpired.

“We aren’t two-time world champs for nothing,” Enders said. “Struggling at times is all part of the journey. We learn as we go and we keep working at it. The incredible thing about my crew is they never make the same mistake. Once we figure out something that isn’t working, it’s over and we never go back to that spot again. There is a method to the madness.”

To run the table tomorrow, Enders will first have to take care of Round 1 opponent Bo Butner, who qualified second with a 6.546 at 211.63 mph. The two drivers have gotten very familiar this year, racing five times in total. Butner is an impressive 4-1 against his good friend Enders.

“I hope to surprise him and get one back,” Enders said. “They’ve had a great year, winning three times already, so it’s obviously a tough draw for us in Round 1 but when you qualify 15th, what do you expect?

“We are all very frustrated. It’s an unfortunate situation but at the end of the day we get to do what we love with the people that we love so we are still winning. We’ll be here all night because we’ve definitely gotta get this car fixed. I have complete faith in this team.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry live eliminations from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

TWO-TIME PRO STOCK CHAMP ERICA ENDERS TRENDING THE RIGHT WAY AT ROUTE 66 RACEWAY

CHICAGO, IL — One of the most popular drivers in NHRA history, Erica Enders is used to “trending” on social media as she always seems to be at the forefront of fan’s online conversations. This weekend at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals, Enders is executing a different type of “trending,” this time involving her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

Since the start of qualifying, Enders has managed to improve in each of the four sessions, finally settling on a respectable 6.600-second quarter-mile pass at 210.50 mph that pegged her ninth on the elimination grid.

“Yeah, not too bad,” Enders said. “We’re certainly not exactly where we want to be because we’ll most likely be starting race day in the first pair out and we definitely won’t have lane choice, but I’ll still bet on my Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports guys every time.

“We definitely used all four qualifying runs as test sessions, really on all four of our team cars, so we’ve acquired a lot of data and gotten better every run even if it’s just by a little bit, so we are directionally correct at the moment and I hope that trend continues tomorrow.”

Enders “directionally correct” performance shows her starting the weekend with a 6.652 at 208.62 mph, improving to a 6.631 at 208.42 mph in Round 2, and then a 6.624 at 210.37 mph in Round 3 before posting her run of record in the final session.

“The way the car ran in the last round, it leads us to be optimistic about tomorrow,” Enders said. “I think we can make some pretty significant improvements and win some rounds. I’m ready. I’m hungry for another win.”

A victor earlier this season in Epping, N.H., Enders opens race day against part-time competitor Chris McGaha, who qualified eighth with a 6.596 at 209.98 mph. Enders and McGaha have not raced one another this season.

Joining her teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the grandstands between professional sessions, Enders spent her downtime Saturday taking in as much of the JEGS Allstars event as possible. The JEGS Allstars pits the best 80 Sportsman racers from the last 12 months against one another for individual and team titles.

“The racing was so intense,” Enders said. “Having come up through the Sportsman ranks and still racing the Lucas Oil series when I can, it’s just awesome to see how great those Allstars are out there. That’s such a huge honor for those racers and they certainly put on a show for the fans today.”

The first round of Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air live coverage from 3-6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.

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.

Just days removed from Epping victory, Erica Enders takes dead aim at Bristol crown

Erica Enders | NHRA Thunder Valley Bristol 2017

BRISTOL, TN — Two-time drag racing world champion Erica Enders celebrated her 22nd national event win less than two weeks ago in Epping, N.H., and the sport’s most prolific female Pro Stock driver is geared up to repeat the feat after qualifying a lofty third in the field of the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Enders coaxed a very competitive 6.704-second quarter-mile pass at 205.66 mph out of her car in the cooler Friday evening qualifying session to lock up her third-best starting spot of the year. The only time she’s qualified better in 2017 was when she earned the No. 2 spot in Charlotte and Epping.

“The whole Elite Motorsports team is looking great this weekend, and really has been for the last several events,” Enders said. “I’m No. 3, my teammate Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) is on the pole, my other teammate Vincent (Nobile) is No. 6, and Alex (Laughlin, fourth team member) is No. 8 so we have half of the top-side of the field. I’d say that’s pretty darn good.

“My new favorite saying is that ‘I’d put my money on us every time,’ and I sure feel that way right now. We’ll see what tomorrow brings and certainly no one is going to give us anything, but I like our chances.”

As the No. 3 qualifier in 13-car field, the modified elimination ladder will have Enders racing Alan Prusiensky in the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations. Prusiensky qualified 12th on the grid with a best pass of 6.786 at 202.79 mph. Enders, who is 2-0 against Prusiensky this year, will have the advantage of lane choice.

“Our Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro has been running across the top of the timing sheets just about every round here,” Enders said. “We also have the ability to look at Jeg’s, Vincent’s and Alex’s runs as well so I’m sure Rick (Jones, crew chief) will cook up something competitive for tomorrow.

“We’re a true team. It’s the way our team owner Richard Freeman said it would be and he always does what he says. I always want to win but I’m also pulling for my teammates. If one of us goes out early, the crew guys all go and help the other teams so we can give it our best effort every time.

“I won Epping two weeks ago and I was runner-up in Atlanta. Vincent was runner-up last weekend in Englishtown. Jeg was runner-up in Houston and Topeka. I’d say we’ve had a really strong first half of the year and it’s only going to get better.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air all the action at 6:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

“I’ve won two Father’s Day races for my dad (in 2014 and 2015) and it would be great to give him another Wally this time through,” Enders said. “I’ll certainly do all I can.”

Epping winner Erica Enders racing for back-to-back victories in Pro Stock

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 10) — Two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders will begin her quest for back-to-back victories on the NHRA tour out of the No. 9 position in the elimination field of the 48th annual NHRA Summernationals. Enders coaxed a best of 6.598 at 210.54 mph out of her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro in the fourth and final qualifying session.

“We ran our best pass in the final round so we finally have this thing working right this weekend,” Enders said. “It’s crazy how you can go from one race to the next and the car reacts so differently but that’s the way it’s been for us. God bless my crew guys because they have worked extremely hard this weekend to get us straight.”

Because there are only 14 Pro Stock cars on the property, the usual 16-car elimination ladder has been modified, pitting Enders against her Elite Motorsports teammate, No. 6 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr., who had a best pass of 6.589 seconds at 210.64 mph.

“You never want to race your teammate unless it’s in the finals,” Enders said. “Jeggie has been good all year and we obviously know what that JEGS.com car can do, even in the heat here this weekend. Both of us are very close as far as our qualifying times go so it should be a driver’s race. We’ll see who gets bragging rights for the next few days.

“We’ve had a different kind of weekend so far. Q1 I had a really crazy burnout but I kept my foot in it because we didn’t want to lose the round. We ended up running a 6.63. In Q2 the thing shook really hard so I had to give up the run. Today it was hotter but we closed in on the tune-up with a 6.61 and then the 6.59. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Interestingly, despite Old Bridge Township Raceway Park being one of her favorite tracks, Enders has only raced as far as the semifinals on just one occasion here. She’ll try to remedy that stat Sunday.

“Yeah, I’m not sure why we’ve struggled here, even in my championship years,” Enders said. “It’s just been one of those tracks for us, but it doesn’t mean anything. We’ve had other tracks where we thought the same thing but then we go there and win so over time we know these things work themselves out.

“Right now we’re focused on improving what we did in qualifying and we think there is room to do that so we’re excited.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will feature live elimination coverage from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Sunday. There also will be an elimination show running from 6-7:30 p.m., Sunday evening. (Times are local and subject to change.)

Current Elite Motorsports Camaro reminds Erica Enders of her two championship cars

Erica Enders | NHRA New England Nationals 2017

EPPING, NH — Erica Enders matched her provisional No. 1 qualifying effort from Friday night in Saturday’s first session at New England Dragway, running an identical 6.513-second elapsed time at a slight faster 213.16 mph to end up second in the elimination field of the fifth annual NHRA New England Nationals.

The impressive run, followed by a 6.518 at 212.69 mph in the final session, proves Enders’ Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is a very consistent racecar. In fact, she says the reliability of her Rick Jones-built chassis reminds her a lot of the two cars she and her Elite crew used to win 15 nationals events and back-to-back Pro Stock world titles in 2014 and 2015.

“We’ve definitely got a consistent racecar on our hands,” Enders said. “Being consistent, and obviously very quick, is exactly how we won our two championships, so we are absolutely buzzing over here right now.

“Three runs all in the 6.51-second range says a lot about the horsepower Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston have been making back at the shop, and I give a bunch of credit to the guys for putting it all together this weekend. We are having fun and it feels great to know we are running at the top of the charts again.”

With only 14 cars in attendance this weekend, the modified elimination ladder has Enders lining up against Australian racer Shane Tucker, a longtime friend. Tucker maxed out with a 6.712 at 202.52, which placed him 13th on the race day grid. The two have not raced one another since 2014.

“Looking at the data briefly after the last run and comparing it to the two .513s we ran, Rick (Jones, crew chief) thinks there is more in it so we may be able to step it up tomorrow,” Enders said. “It’s supposed to be slightly warmer than today, more like what we had Friday, so we’ll prepare for what we expect to see and adjust from there.

“This program has been moving in the right direction all season and it hasn’t felt this good in a while so we’re all extremely happy. Now it’s time to go out there and execute. We were in the final two races ago (in Atlanta) and Jeg (Coughlin, teammate) was in the final at the last race in Topeka and also in Houston, so we’re due for a breakthrough win any time now.”

Coughlin and fellow Elite Motorsports driver Vincent Nobile are slated to race one another in Round 1, assuring at least one Elite car will advance to the quarterfinals. Should Enders and either Coughlin or Nobile win their first two elimination races, there could be an all-Elite semifinal battle for a spot in the finals.

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air elimination action beginning at 4:30 p.m., Sunday. (Times are local and subject to change).

Elite Motorsports champion Erica Enders to start mid-pack in quest for Topeka crown

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Topeka 2017

TOPEKA, KS — Missing one of four scheduled rounds of qualifying may not seem like a big deal, but for two-time world champion and past Topeka titlist Erica Enders, a lost round can be the difference between qualifying mid-pack or at the top of the elimination field of the 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties.

“We came here with a renewed feeling of confidence after running so well in Atlanta and getting to our first final of the year,” Enders said. “And we were super happy to be bringing a brand-new motor that showed to be our best ever on the dyno back at the shop. We just wanted as many hits as possible to get it dialed in for race day so losing one to rain feels like a bigger deal than normal.

“Either way, we’re ready to race and we are confident in our abilities. It just would have been nice to get another chance.”

In typical Topeka fashion, wild weather has ruled the race so far. Friday it was on-and-off rainstorms that eventually caused the cancelation of one of the two scheduled rounds.

“We went out there in the one session basically just making a test run,” Enders said. “When you see there are only 14 cars so you’re virtually assured that you’ll qualify, you have the luxury of making test passes during qualifying and we pretty much had to that first run to match the new motor to the basic tune-up we use.”

Fast forward to Saturday when cooler temperatures produced mineshaft conditions.

“Everyone was flying today and we stepped up quite a bit from the 6.668 we ran Friday with a 6.573 at 209.69 mph right out of the box,” Enders said. “That showed us we were much closer to what we wanted to do. We came back in the final session and basically repeated the earlier run with a 6.574 at 210.08 mph.

“Rick (Jones, crew chief) jumped on the radio and said he thought we should have been quicker but I said, ‘Hey, we have a consistent car,’ which is always good, so I’m really liking our chances for what we can do tomorrow.”

Unfortunately for Enders, she has to race teammate Vincent Nobile in the opening round, Enders’ 6.573 giving her lane choice over Nobile and his 6.581.

“No one is happy we have to race each other in the first round but that’s the way the ladder came out,” Enders said. “I guess the good news is someone from Elite will be going to the next round no matter what so that’s a positive. We all use every run to learn something so we win as a team and share the wealth. It should be a good day.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 will begin with a live show starting at 1 p.m. (All times are local and subject to change).

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