Posts Tagged Qualifying

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders starts Topeka defense against Elite teammate

Erica Enders | Topeka NHRA 2016

TOPEKA, KS — Defending Pro Stock champion Erica Enders has already scored a round-win at this weekend’s NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka — and Pro Stock eliminations don’t start until Sunday.

Enders, who qualified the Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge in the No. 9 spot in Pro Stock, won a round in Super Gas earlier Saturday.

“That was fun to get a round-win in the Super Gas car,” Enders said. “It can take some time to get used to driving in Sportsman again, and even though I’ve driven that car this year, I’m still getting re-adjusted to it. But it was nice to win a round for Buddy and Cody.”

Enders drove the ORTEQ Energy Technologies roadster for owners Buddy Wood and Cody Ortowski this weekend. She had a second-round matchup with Bruce Johnson Saturday night, and the two-time Pro Stock champion went .019-second red and lost.

Enders’ best pass in her Pro Stock car was 6.643 seconds at 207.03 mph. The defending race champion squares off against Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman in the first round.

“Drew and I are friends everywhere but on the racetrack,” Enders said. “When I put on my helmet, he becomes just another driver. It was a lot of fun to work with him last year as he made the transition to Pro Stock, and I helped him as much as I could in 2015.

“But on race day, I’m going to try to beat him like I try to beat anyone else in this class. I hate that we have to race a teammate in the first round, but we all need to qualify better.”

Skillman’s best pass this weekend was 6.642 seconds at 208.07 mph, meaning their first-round matchup could come down to who gets off the starting line first.

“May the best woman win,” Enders said. “Drew’s a great driver, and he’ll be tough to beat, but our job is to do our best to send him home early.”

Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET, Saturday. Elimination action will be broadcast live from 2 to 5 p.m. ET, Sunday.

Two-time champ Erica Enders carries momentum into Atlanta race day


ATLANTA, GA — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders heads into race day for the 36th annual NHRA Southern Nationals on Sunday at Atlanta Dragway fresh off her best run of the weekend.

Enders, the No. 10 qualifier, made a pass of 6.701 seconds at 206.16 mph in the final qualifying session, giving her and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team some momentum heading into final eliminations.

“It is nice that we made our best run in the last session of qualifying,” Enders said. “The conditions during that session are going to be very similar to what they are tomorrow.”

That Q4 pass was eighth-best for the session, and it was quicker than her E1 opponent, Chris McGaha. McGaha qualified No. 5 with a top pass of 6.648 seconds at 208.39 mph. Normally, the No. 10 qualifier races the No. 7 qualifier in the first, but only 14 cars were entered in Atlanta, so the eliminations ladder needed some alternations.

Still, Enders is fired up about racing Sunday, especially since it gives her a chance to avenge a first-round loss — on a holeshot — to McGaha at the previous NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event in Houston.

“I’ll go into race day tomorrow with the mindset that I’ve always had in the past,” Enders said. “We’ll be confident in what we have. I have a first-round matchup that I’d really like to have go the opposite way than it went the last time. We’ll go up there, do our best, and see what happens.”

Enders, who won nine races in 2015, has struggled so far this season as her team continues to develop the new Dodge Dart with fuel-injected engines. No driver in NHRA had a better two-year run than Enders over the 2014-15 seasons, so she knows her Elite team will bounce back.

“We’re riding the struggle bus,” Enders said. “It’s challenging, it’s frustrating, and it’s disheartening because my guys work so incredibly hard. I know that we’re eventually going to be OK, and we’ve got to keep our eye on the prize and remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.”

FOX Sports 1 will air Saturday qualifying from 10 to 11 p.m. ET and Sunday’s elimination action from 4:40 to 7:30 p.m. ET.

Two-time Pro Stock champ Erica Enders gunning for Houston three-peat

Erica Enders Houston NHRA Pro Stock 2016

HOUSTON, TX — Racing in her home state of Texas always puts a smile on the face of two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders. So does going fast with her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge, which she did in qualifying for the 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals on Friday at Royal Purple Raceway.

Enders grabbed the No. 6 spot — her second-best qualifying position of the season — with a pass of 6.635 seconds at 209.14 mph.

“It is nice to be back home,” said Enders, the 2014 and 2015 Houston winner. “Coming out on Friday and running a little bit better than we have been was certainly encouraging.”

Enders and her Elite team continue to develop their new ’16 Dodge Dart after NHRA mandated fuel-injected engines with a 10,500 rpm limit. Building a new car and tuning it to the new rules has been a challenge but one Enders and her team are up for.

“Today was OK,” Enders said. “It was very hot, the racetrack was crazy, probably similar to what it’s going to be tomorrow. We got two good practice runs for tomorrow. It’s not going exactly how we had planned, but we don’t know how to quit. We’ll just keep digging deep and figure it out.”

Enders will square off against No. 9 qualifier Chris McGaha in the first round Sunday in an odd ladder required by a 13-car field. McGaha’s best pass was 6.646 seconds at 208.39 mph.

Enders was born and raised in Houston and is a Texas girl through and through despite now living in New Orleans with husband Richie Stevens.

“I’m glad to be back home,” Enders said. “I love Texas; I’m not shy about that. This track holds a lot of history for me and certainly a lot of special memories. It was the first track I ever raced on, back in the early 90s, and it was the first track that I won a national event on, in Super Gas. And then we were able to win back-to-back years here in Pro Stock in 2014-15.

“We’ve had lots of fun here, and I’m hopeful that trend continues.”

FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action from 11 p.m. to midnight, Saturday. Eliminations will air from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday.

Perseverance is key for reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders

Erica Enders | Charlotte NHRA 4-Wide 2016

CHARLOTTE, NC — After two years of running roughshod over the competition in winning back-to-back Pro Stock world championships, Erica Enders has come back to the pack this year in her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart. Her seasoned race crew and engine builders knew it wasn’t going to be easy switching from another brand to Mopar and the Hemi powerplant, and the growing pains they’ve experienced in the first four and a half races would cripple most teams, but not Enders’ group.

“We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last few years,” Enders said at the conclusion of qualifying for this weekend’s seventh annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods. “This is a pit full of multi-time champions and I wouldn’t change a thing about this team. They have proven time and again to be the best in the sport. It’s just not an easy thing to jump from one manufacturer to another. There’s going to be hiccups and we knew that coming into the season.

“Sure, it’s frustrating when you don’t run well and we did expect to be a little better this weekend than what we’ve shown so far, but we will stick to the master plan (team owner) Richard Freeman drew up when we signed with Mopar and keep on marching forward.”

Under the unique four-wide format, Enders — who qualified 10th with a 6.644 at 207.08 mph — will hope to be one of the two-quickest cars in her Round 1 foursome that will advance to the second round. She will be racing Elite Motorsports teammate Drew Skillman (No. 2 qualifier with a 6.583), Alex Laughlin (seventh with a 6.611), and John Gaydosh Jr. (15th with a 6.762).

“The biggest bummer is seeing my guys and how hard they’re working and then not seeing positive results on the racetrack,” Enders said. “I’m more proud of them now then I’ve ever been because the determination and perseverance they’re showing is just incredible.

“Two cars out of each foursome advance, so our goal is to be one of those two cars. We know Drew has a great race car, so hopefully it will be him and I moving on, but I know it’s going to be tough.

“We’ve already got dinner cooking and no one is leaving until they are 100 percent satisfied that we have a race car capable of winning tomorrow. I’ll certainly do my best behind the wheel and we’ll take our chances.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying action from 10 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, and elimination racing from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sunday. All times are listed in Eastern time zone.

Impressive Las Vegas winning streak comes to an end for Pro Stock champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | Las Vegas 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV — The streak is over. Long live the streak?

Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders extended her consecutive round-win streak at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to 23 on Saturday before falling to Jason Line in the second round of the K&N Horsepower Challenge, snapping a winning spree that lasted more than two years.

Enders looks to start a new streak on Sunday when she races in the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, the regular national event here at The Strip.

“I didn’t want it to end but there was a plan that was different than mine,” Enders said. “You know it’s disappointing on one hand, but, wow, what an accomplishment on the other. We’ve got to keep positive and focus on tomorrow.”

Enders did make her best qualifying effort of the season in her new Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge, as she’ll start eliminations from the No. 5 spot. Enders ‘ best pass was 6.711 seconds at 204.63 mph as she starts from the top half of the field for the first time in 2016.

“We definitely made some strides in the right direction,” Enders said. “It’s definitely nice to be a little more solid in the top half. We obviously still have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be, but fifth isn’t a bad position to start, especially considering the people who are ahead of me: The three KB (Racing) cars that have just lit the world on fire this year and then my Elite Motorsports teammate, Drew Skillman. It’s cool that it’s three KB cars and then three Elite Motorsports cars.”

Enders has won the last four national events in Las Vegas and the last two K&N Horsepower Challenge races here. She ran her streak to 23 round-wins in a row by beating Allen Johnson in the first round of the K&N Challenge with a pass of 6.755 seconds at 204.60. She got off the line first with a .016-second reaction time and outran Johnson, whose pass was 6.789 seconds at 204.73 mph.

She then faced KB Racing’s Line in the second round, and though she left first with a .021 light, Line’s pass of 6.720 seconds at 205.94 mph beat her run of 6.810 seconds at 204.39 mph.

“Being first out without lane choice is pretty hard,” Enders said. “Having said that, I think that we can go back to our setup where we made our good run and have a consistent race car that’s within striking distance.”

Enders will look to start a new winning streak in the first round Sunday when she faces No. 12 qualifier Aaron Strong (6.750 at 204.6 mph).

“We’re not at the top of the pack, but we’ll keep making strides in the right direction and we’ll get better,” Enders said. “It’s just a matter of time until we’re back to our winning ways.”

Reigning world champion Erica Enders progressing nicely with her new Mopar hot rod

Erica Enders | Gainesville 2016 Qualifying

GAINESVILLE, FL — Two and a half races into her newest era of racing, back-to-back and reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders is pleased with the progress of her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart. Through four rounds of qualifying at the 47th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Enders qualified 10th with a steady pass of 6.636 seconds at 208.33 mph.

“It’s no secret that we’ve struggled a bit the first two races with an extremely new program, but it’s just a matter of having more time to make more runs with this Dodge Dart and the Hemi powerplant,” Enders said. “We’re going to get better every race; I believe that wholeheartedly. My guys are so smart. They want it more than anything. We just have to be patient.

“Our test in Tulsa (Okla.) this week was certainly encouraging. We’ve improved so much since we got our first motor in February, for sure. Knowing what we found in Tulsa and applying it here to all four of the cars on this team was our first goal and we all came out okay. I think our four cars ended up fifth, sixth, ninth, and 10th, so that’s pretty good.”

Enders’ 6.636 pits her against good friend Allen Johnson when elimination action begins at noon ET on Sunday. Johnson’s best pass was a seventh-place 6.628 at 207.91 mph.

“I don’t think that where we qualified is indicative of what happened on the track because on our run of record I had something go wrong and it certainly cost us a few hundredths of a second,” Enders said. “We could have at least run a 6.62, so that’s extremely encouraging.

“We certainly weren’t looking for a bottom-half qualifying effort, but we will get our act together before tomorrow, and Jeg (Coughlin Jr., teammate) has proved over and over that you can win from any position on the qualifying sheet, so we’ll treat tomorrow like a brand-new day. I feel really confident.

“We’ve all got a little extra pep in our step after today. I know things are for sure headed in the right direction.”

Race day eliminations will air live from 1 to 4 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX Sports 1.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders confident of the future, looking forward to race day

Erica Enders Phoenix 2016 Qualifying

PHOENIX, AZ — By her standards the past two seasons, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders should be frustrated, but the two-time Pro Stock champion is far from being discouraged. The dominance Enders and her team showed in 2014 and 2015 is not apparent at the moment, but after a whirlwind off-season, she knows it’s coming.

Enders qualified No. 9 for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, and she hopes to continue to make strides on race day.

“We went home from Pomona, and the guys worked really hard in the engine shop,” Enders said. “We certainly feel like we made moves in the right direction. We had the second-quickest mph yesterday, which is very encouraging, considering how new our Dodge engine program is.”

Enders and her team switched to Dodge in the off-season, and to comply with new NHRA rules, the team built all-new fuel-injected engines with a 10,500 rpm limit. Her best elapsed time of 6.689 seconds was ninth-best, but her speed of 208.26 mph was fourth-fastest this weekend.

“We made some significant changes with our race car, and it’s just not happy right now,” Enders said. “There’s no other way to beat around the bush. Once we get our race car happy, things will be OK.”

Enders will have to face an Elite Motorsports teammate in the first round for the second race in a row. She battled Jeg Coughlin Jr. at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif., and will face No. 6 qualifier Drew Skillman here. Skillman’s best pass was 6.650 seconds at 207.43 mph. (Usually, the No. 9 qualifier faces the No. 8 qualifier, but because only 14 cars are entered, NHRA had to juggle the ladder).

“That was literally run No. 22 on this car, and eight of those are qualifying runs at national events,” Enders said of her pass in the final qualifying session. “It’s pretty crazy to think that the car is that new.

“In the grand scheme of things, it could be easy to get frustrated because of how we’re used to performing,” Enders added. “But if we look at the big picture and consider everything we went through in the off-season, with all the rules changes and with building two new cars and a motor program, it’s just going to take time. I keep telling people that.

“I’m very optimistic, very confident that things are going to get better.”

FOX Sports 1 will air live coverage of eliminations from 2-5 p.m. PT, Sunday. More than 1.1 million viewers tuned in to the first broadcast of the season.

Two-time champion Erica Enders shows continued improvement in Pomona

Erica Enders qualifying Pomona 2016

POMONA, CA — In the ever-evolving new world of Pro Stock, improvement is the No. 1 goal.

Two-time champion Erica Enders nailed that goal every time at the season-opening NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race, the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

Enders improved in every qualifying session with her Elite Motorsports Mopar Dodge Dart, ending up No. 9 for Sunday’s eliminations.

“I think we have a lot to be optimistic about,” Enders said. “We have slowly picked away at it through these four qualifying sessions. We made a pretty big change for that last run just to see how the car would take it. It adapted well, so that gives us a little confidence going into tomorrow.”

Enders started off the new era in Pro Stock — one that includes fuel-injected engines with a 10,500-rpm rev limit — with a pass of 6.676 seconds at 208.62 mph, but in the subsequent three qualifying sessions, her elapsed time dropped: 6.669, 6.652, and finally 6.651 seconds at 207.62 mph, which was her best pass.

“When we put this whole program together we knew it would take a little time to get acclimated as far as building the horsepower is concerned and tuning the EFI, and drive-ability is a huge change for me,” Enders said. “We’re all learning and this is just the beginning.”

Enders won the 2014 and 2015 championships with a powerful combination of superb horsepower, excellent tuning, and terrific driving. A switch to Dodge for 2016 may force her team to do a little catch-up, but Enders is the same driver who set an NHRA record last year by winning three consecutive final rounds on holeshots.

“We certainly have a lot of work to do, and Pro Stock is really interesting in that aspect,” Enders said. “You don’t always need to have the fastest car to win; we’ve proven that many times before. My job remains the same tomorrow, and that’s to do my best behind the wheel and cut some good lights and hit my shift points and hopefully drive this Elite Motorsports Mopar Dodge Dart to the winner’s circle. That’s our goal.”

Her first battle comes against new Elite teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., who qualified No. 8 with a pass of 6.645 seconds at 208.55 mph.

“Figures” Enders said. “It’s all right. You know it’s bound to happen when you have 25 percent of the field under one canopy. We were hopeful that wouldn’t be the case, especially at this first event. We have pretty equally matched hot rods, so I guess we’ll see who the best driver is tomorrow.”

Race day eliminations will air live from 2-5 p.m. PT on FOX Sports 1.

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