Posts Tagged Qualifying

Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders wants Atlanta trophy for her collection

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock 2017 Atlanta

COMMERCE, GA — Two-time world champion Erica Enders’ 21 national event trophies places her second on the all-time list of female professional drag racers, but the Houston, Texas, native has yet to score one at Atlanta Dragway, something she’d love to change Sunday at the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals.

“Atlanta is one on the to-do list for sure,” Enders said. “We’ll get there. Our performances across the board have been trending up all year and if we’d been able to make four runs here instead of two we’d have shown a little better. No matter what, we’re in the top half of the field and we’re ready to battle.

“We’ve had a lot of different winners in the class this year and that shows the parity we deal with every week. Anyone that qualifies is capable of winning and if you’re not 100-percent on your game, you can get beat in a hurry. After getting timed out last week in Charlotte, I will definitely plan to get some redemption tomorrow.”

Qualifying for the Pro Stock class was shortened to Saturday’s two runs, with Friday’s rainstorms wiping out the first two sessions on the schedule. Even so, Enders was a picture of consistency, opening with a 6.614 at 209.10 mph before dipping to a 6.603 at 210.21 mph in her powerful Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

The run was good enough for sixth place on the race day grid and sets up a first-round race with Alan Prusiensky, who topped out at 6.647 at 207.98 mph in qualifying 11th overall.

“We have a good car, although one that we changed quite a lot on between last weekend and now,” Enders said. “Like I said, we really wanted all four qualifying runs to make sure the changes we made are showing up in the data. So far so good with the two runs we did get to make, but having two more runs would have given us a chance to move even higher on the qualifying ladder.

“Last week me and Jeg (Coughlin Jr., teammate) qualified 1-2 on the ladder, which really got everyone’s attention. When we lost Friday, we played it a little safer today to make absolutely sure we got down the track both runs. I think everyone was cautious. Throw that out the window for tomorrow, though, we want to win.”

Pro Stock with eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports airs at 6 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in EDT).

Qualifying a season-best second on the grid excites Pro Stock champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock 2017 | Charlotte 4-Wide

CONCORD, N.C. — After qualifying her Lupe Tortilla-backed Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro a season-best No. 2 on the elimination ladder of the eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway, two-time world champ Erica Enders admitted it’s going to be hard to wipe the smile off her face.

“We definitely took another big step in the right direction this weekend,” Enders said. “I know this entire Elite Motorsports team is very excited to be back on top of the sheets. Granted, it’s just qualifying, but to be 1-2 with my teammate Jeg Coughlin for the first time since we’ve been racing together again is very cool.”

Enders used Friday night’s 6.583-second pass at 210.08 mph to secure the second slot on the grid, just behind Coughlin’s 6.578 at 210.24 mph. Like most in the class, Enders and Coughlin made their best runs during that lone evening session when the track temperatures were more agreeable for maximum traction.

Even so, running well in Saturday’s heat was important because Enders knows track conditions will be pretty similar when sudden-death eliminations start around 12:40 p.m. EDT, Sunday, at zMax Dragway.

“Today was hot and sticky so we worked on a race day set up,” Enders said. “We are just looking for a consistence race car for Sunday and hopefully we can drive our way to the winner’s circle.

“It’s nice to see the scoreboards show the hard work going on behind the scenes. My guys spend a lot of time away from their families for this team and it’s finally coming around. I’m excited for all of us. Vincent Nobile and Alex Laughlin, our other two teammates, are running better also and we are continue to work towards getting a better handle on their cars as well.”

Under the four-wide format, No. 2 qualifier Enders will race in a foursome of drivers that includes teammate and No. 10 qualifier Laughlin (6.617 at 208.68 mph), No. 15 qualifier Shane Tucker (6.758 at 204.14 mph) and No. 7 qualifier Tanner Gray (6.595 at 209.49 mph).

In each quad of drivers, the top two cars advance to the next round. In the final quad of the day, the first one to the finish line wins the race.

Television coverage of the eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals begin at 5:30 p.m. EDT, Sunday, on FOX Sports 1.

Hometown girl Erica Enders primed for big race day, starting against her husband

HOUSTON, TX — Two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders loves racing at home and her hometown fans love her for bringing so much glory to the Bayou City. It’s a relationship the Cypress, Texas native wants to expand Sunday when she races from the No. 4 qualifying spot for the trophy of the 30th annual NHRA Spring Nationals.

“So happy to be back in Texas,” Enders said. “It’s no secret I love this state and being at the track where I started racing as an 8-year-old kid is perfect for me. We won Pro Stock in back-to-back years in 2014-2015 and those were the same years we won it all so Royal Purple Raceway is obviously good luck for me.”

Behind the wheel of Richard Freeman’s Lupe Tortilla-sponsored Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, Enders blasted to a best of 6.573 seconds at 210.14 mph to set up a first-round elimination date with her husband Richie Stevens, who topped out at 6.615 at 208.52 mph during time trials to qualify 11th on the grid.

“We’re getting all our ducks in a row here at Elite Performance,” Enders said. “My teammate Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) is on the pole and Vincent (Nobile) and Alex (Laughlin) are both looking strong. We’re looking to dominate the class like we did during our championship runs and we’re definitely getting closer to that goal every weekend.

“Richie hasn’t raced in almost a year so it’s great to see him come out and make some good runs. But once we line up tomorrow I’ll treat him like any other competitor and do everything I can to rip his throat out. We’re here to win and it’s been more than 16 months since that’s happened so we’ll do whatever we have to do.”

Enders has now qualified in the top half of the field three times in the first five races of the season. She was third in Gainesville, Fla., and sixth in Pomona, Calif. Still, the 21-time national event winner knows qualifying well hardly matches a victory on race day, but it’s a great start.

“We won with Lupe Tortilla on the car two years ago and sharing the winner’s circle with (owners) Stan and Sheila Holt was a memory I will always cherish,” Enders said. “There are a million ways to say ‘thank you’ but nothing beats winning the race. That’s the ultimate ‘thank you.’

“Having them back on the doors this year is super special to me because they have supported me since I started drag racing as a kid. Plus, they’ve been feeding us every day so we’re feeling great and everyone is happy.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon with television coverage on FOX Sports 1 kicking off at 4:30 p.m., Sunday.

“It would be hard for me to say how much my team means to me,” Enders said. “These guys are so awesome and special and it’s really nice to see their hard work pay off with a strong qualifying effort like this. Now we’ll get back to work and see what we can do about winning this race.”

Erica Enders shocks top qualifier Jason Line early in K&N Horsepower Challenge

Erica Enders | NHRA Las Vegas 2017 | K&N Challenge

LAS VEGAS, NV — Racing on the strength of a fan vote, popular hot-rodder Erica Enders made sure top qualifier Jason Line remained winless in the lucrative $50,000 K&N Horsepower Challenge Saturday with a huge victory in the opening stanza of racing action. Although she lost a round later in the semifinals, Enders once again established herself as one of the hottest shoes in the sport.

With the daunting task of taking on 10-time top qualifier Line in the opening round, Enders coolly pulled of a .006-second reaction time just a blink after Line red-lighted away his chances, as he jumped the tree by -.004. The foul start was made all the more painful for Line as he got out of shape and was forced to shut-off, with Enders running away to 6.723-second, 206.26-mph victory.

Line has now raced in the K&N Horsepower Challenge 13 times but has yet to win the coveted crown. Enders is a two-time champ, having won it all in 2014 and 2015. She was also runner-up in 2013.

“Jason’s one of the best and any time you can beat him it’s a good thing,” Enders said. “I knew I needed to get up on the steering wheel and try to cut the best light possible because he’s been running very strong all year. I was ready and I guess he was a little too ready, so we got a big round win there.”

The semifinals pitted Enders against Shane Gray, but despite her superior reaction time of .028 seconds to Gray’s .042-second start, her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro was soon shaking its tires, allowing Gray by for the win.

“I wish we could have turned on the win light two more times to honor all the fans who voted me into the K&N Horsepower Challenge,” Enders said. “It was a huge deal to me and all the guys on this race team and the fans’ continued support means so much to all of us. All I can say is we tried our best. At least we scored that big win over Jason. It just wasn’t meant for us to go any further today.”

As for the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, Enders wound up as the No. 11 qualifier with a best pass of 6.713 at 206.45 mph. That sets up a first-round race against Elite teammate Vincent Nobile, who qualified sixth with a 6.666 at 206.32 mph.

“Obviously, we know what that car and that crew is capable of so we’ll do what we always do whenever one Elite car races another one, and that’s go out there and drag race,” Enders said. “Vincent’s my buddy and he’s a great driver but when the helmets go on we both want to tear the other person’s heart out.

“We would have liked to have qualified a bit better but the guys are working on a bunch of little things tonight they think will help us tomorrow so we’ll get after Vincent and see what happens.”

Pro Stock eliminations for the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. Live television coverage on FOX Sports 1 starts at 3 p.m., Sunday. (Times listed in PDT).

Two-time champ Erica Enders presses towards top of Pro Stock category

Erica Enders | Gainesville NHRA Pro Stock 2017

GAINESVILLE, FL — Perhaps in a last-minute bid to impress voters in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders ripped off her first 6.4-second pass of NHRA’s fuel-injected era to qualify a lofty third on the elimination ladder of the 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

Enders’ 6.490 at 214.01 mph was more than enough to lock up her best qualifying effort since last year’s Denver race, a span of 13 national events. It also makes her one of the favorites to win the prestigious and historic Gatornationals, one of the stops on tour she has yet to conquer.

“I’m really pleased with our performance here in Gainesville and if fans recognize we’re a true contender again and vote us into the K&N Challenge based on this weekend, that would be a real blessing,” Enders said. “It’s funny but it’s always the weekends where you don’t start off on the right foot where you tend to do better. We had to abort Q1 but we’ve been awesome ever since.

“Tomorrow is going to be a warm day, just like today. The race track is very tricky, very marginal so I think tomorrow it’s going to be a driver’s race, which I love. My guys give me a consistent car that goes A to B. That’s how we won both of our championships and I’m going to do my best to drive to the winner’s circle.

“Having run what we just ran in the heat of the day knowing there was more left in the car and being second quickest of the session gives us a lot of confidence going into race day. I’m really excited. One win I lack that is really prestigious is the Gatornationals so we are going to put our heads down and go to work tomorrow.”

The jump in performance wasn’t a surprise to Enders, who reported team owner Richard Freeman had her and the rest of his Elite Motorsports group test Enders’ Chevrolet Camaro following the last national event in Phoenix.

“Hard work always pays off,” Enders said. “Before Pheonix, I tested Jeg’s car. I think I made 25 runs in his car and I asked Richard if we could test my car when we got done with Pheonix. We had some issues to sort out with it and we all want to win more than anything so we’ll do whatever it takes to get there.

“Testing a few days in Oklahoma and just being behind the wheel of a race car every day for the last two weeks straight kept me sharp for this race and allowed me to have a lot of fun. I’m blessed to be in the position I am, to have such a great team that stands behind me, all because of Richard. We’re excited about tomorrow and we’ll see what we can do.”

As the No. 3 qualifier, Enders will enjoy lane choice in her first-round race against Alan Prusiensky when Sunday’s eliminations begin at noon. Enders has her opponent covered by a tenth of a second — a stunning gap in the factory hot rod class — with Prusiensky topping out at 6.590 seconds and 211.69 mph in qualifying 14th on the grid.

FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying highlights at 11 p.m., Saturday, followed by live elimination action beginning at 1 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in EDT).

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.

History abounds, awaits world champion Erica Enders in Pomona

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Qualifying | Pomona 2017

POMONA, CA — The first Junior Dragster Erica Enders ever drove to the winner’s circle is housed just across the compound from Auto Club Raceway in Wally Parks’ Drag Racing Museum. She also started her Sportsman career here and collected one of her record 21 Pro Stock race trophies at Pomona. Additionally, she clinched the first of her two world titles at this track in 2014.

Now the spunky Texan is back, hoping to add a few more memories to her So-Cal resume when this weekend’s season-opening 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals turn to Sunday’s eliminations.

“This place means a lot to me,” Enders admitted. “It has a lot of history for our sport in general and for me personally, from racing Junior Dragsters here to getting my Super Comp license and starting my big car career in the Lucas Oil series. Plus, I was able to wrap up my first Pro Stock championship here.

“There’s just a lot of fun memories here already and then to have my first Junior Dragster over in the museum is just surreal because I still feel like I’m just a normal kid. It’s really through a lot of hard work and the support of my family that we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of cool stuff, including at this track. It’s one of the things that makes you want to pinch yourself.”

After racing to back-to-back titles and 15 race wins in 2014-2015, Enders came up empty last season racing for a different manufacturer. But her Elite Motorsports team has returned to its reliable Chevrolet Camaros and the results in testing, where she was quickest overall, and here in Pomona show they made the right decision.

“We are really proud of how we performed in testing and the first couple of days of qualifying,” she said. “Jeg (Coughlin, teammate) and I are both really proud to be back in Chevrolets, back in competitive race cars where we have a shot to win every Sunday.

“I’m proud of all of the hard work my team put into making all of this possible. It wasn’t easy to switch over everything, to build a new car for Jeg and get my 2014 car ready for me but they never quit, they never stopped trucking, so my hat’s off to them for how incredibly hard they worked to make this possible for both me and Jeg.”

Enders has qualified sixth with a best pass of 6.553 at 210.90 mph in her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Up first in eliminations is a first-round showdown with Matt Hartford, who qualified 11th with a best of 6.596 at 210.44 mph.

“Jeg and I can’t meet until the semis if we both win early in the day so that’s the first goal,” Enders said. “We’ll wake up tomorrow fresh and ready to roll. I know exactly what this team is capable of and what we can accomplish under pressure. It reminds me of 2014 and 2015 when we had the capability to win anytime we stepped foot on the property.

“Regardless of what happens tomorrow, I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve been through in the past 12 months and how strong it’s made us.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon PT, Sunday, with three hours of live coverage running from 4-7 p.m. ET, on FOX.

Erica Enders enjoying twilight hours of her back-to-back championship run

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POMONA, CA — Back-to-back and reigning world champion Erica Enders has one more day to race her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart with the No. 1 sticker on the door and she plans on making the most of the occasion as the 2016 season draws to a close.

“We’re having fun,” Enders said. “I think all of us are relieved to a large extent and I know the feeling in the pit is that it’s nice to wrap up the final qualifying session of what has been an extremely long and challenging year.

“I’d say we made a couple of okay runs in qualifying, and I think there are some things we can improve on for tomorrow. That’s a glimmer of hope I suppose. All we can do is try our best like we have all year.”

Enders is no stranger to the victory circle at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, having visited it as recently as 2014 after her dramatic final-round win over Jason Line that clinched her first championship. It was history in the making as she became the first female to win a Pro Stock title and just the third woman ever to win a championship in any major form of motorsports.

“This is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the tour,” Enders said. “It holds a lot of great memories and the fans have been wonderful in reminding me about 2014. They all remember every moment, just like I do. It’s great to relive those times.

“We’ll go into race day like we always go into race day, that’s with confidence and a consistent race car. I’ll do my best to drive through a couple of win lights tomorrow.”

This weekend, Enders is qualified 12th on the grid after running a best of 6.608 at 210.05 mph during qualifying. She’ll open sudden-death eliminations Sunday opposite fellow Texan Alex Laughlin, who topped out at 6.570 at 210.97 mph during time trials.

“Alex is a good friend and he’s really had a strong car, especially down the stretch this year,” Enders said. “I’ll get up on the wheel and try to steal one away and we’ll go from there.

“I’m excited for the off season and the things we have in store for 2017. We definitely want the No. 1 designation back and to start winning races again. We have a great plan in place and I’m already wishing it was time for the Winternationals. Well, it maybe nice to have a little break to catch up on sleep first.”

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