Posts Tagged Qualifying

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders ready for ‘crazy’ competition in Seattle

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SEATTLE, WA — The Pro Stock field for the NHRA Northwest Nationals this weekend at Pacific Raceways is so insanely close that Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders is only .008-second off the quickest qualifying time but sits No. 7.

The top eight are less than a hundredth of a second apart, as Enders and Jason Line had identical elapsed times of 6.509 seconds, with Enders getting the higher position based on a faster speed, 212.16 mph to 212.06 mph.

“It’s the closest field that I can remember,” Enders said. “I’ve been racing a long time, and to have the top eight separated by a hundredth of a second is crazy.”

The close competition means race day should be extremely competitive, with drivers likely to be the difference between winning and losing, and the 2014 Pro Stock World Champion wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Tomorrow is going to be a driver’s race, and to be quite honest I’m perfectly fine with that,” Enders said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to race in Seattle again. It’s been really nice to hear how excited all the fans have been to have us back.

“I’m hoping for a long race day tomorrow. It’s going to be crazy, crazy competitive.”

Enders and her Elite team are racing in Seattle for the first time, as they skipped Sonoma and Seattle last year. Enders is racing in Seattle for the first time since 2013.

Enders is a four-time winner in 2014, and she’s currently second in the Pro Stock points standings with three races remaining before the Countdown to the Championship begins. She kicks off Seattle’s race day against No. 10 qualifier Bo Butner, whose top pass was 6.518 seconds at 212.33 mph.

“He’s a good leaver and his car has been running good,” Enders said. “We’ll all have to be on our game tomorrow, but I have a lot of confidence in myself and my crew. We’ll be ready.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders ready to make noise in rare bottom-half start

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SONOMA, CA — With her Elite Motorsports team making its first appearance at Sonoma Raceway, It would be easy to blame a relatively poor qualifying performance for Erica Enders at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend on their lack of notes for the track, but Enders and her team — the defending NHRA Pro Stock World Champions — won’t make any excuses.

“We certainly don’t have data from out here,” said Enders, who qualified for her 100th consecutive race. “But we can always take weather and track conditions and compare them to other places we’ve raced at. I guess we’re behind the other teams in that aspect, but at the same time, that is no excuse.

“My guys are the best, and we’ll do our damndest to prove it tomorrow.”

Enders qualified No. 9 with a pass of 6.534 seconds at 212.03 mph despite her team racing in Sonoma for the first time. That’s only the second time in her 37 races to date with Richard Freeman’s Elite team that she has failed to qualify in the top half of the field.

Plus, Enders and the team have faced other issues this weekend as they’ve tried to move up the Pro Stock ladder.

“We’ve definitely struggled,” Enders said. “We’ve had some breakages and some things not go our way so far this weekend, but we’re determined to change that tomorrow. I’m certainly looking forward to race day, even though our performance wasn’t tremendous in qualifying. I still am confident about tomorrow.”

Enders faces Shane Gray in the first round of eliminations on Sunday after Gray qualified No. 8 with a top pass of 6.533 seconds at 212.03 mph.

In addition to her team making its first appearance in Sonoma, Enders is making her first start here since 2012.

“I do love it here in Sonoma,” Enders said. “It’s certainly not the showing we wanted to have during qualifying, but tomorrow is a whole new day, and I’ve got the best guys in the business to get the car as good as it can be.

“We’ll just go after it tomorrow. We’ll keep fighting and try to make it better.”

Quick Q4 pass has Erica Enders stoked for race day in Denver

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DENVER, CO — As far as Erica Enders is concerned, there is no one better to end Allen Johnson’s winning streak at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Bandimere Speedway than her and the Elite Motorsports team.

Johnson has won the last three races in Denver and six of the last eight, but it was Enders who was quickest in the final qualifying session Saturday, giving her momentum heading into Sunday. She qualified No. 3 with a pass of 6.882 seconds at 200.65 mph as she guns for her fifth victory of 2015.

“Tomorrow is going to be challenging,” Enders said. “A.J. has dominated up here for a lot of years and our single goal is to win this race tomorrow, so we will do our best and let God do the rest and see what happens. It’s pretty cool to have a fast Chevy up here.”

Enders’ run of 6.888 seconds at 199.97 mph topped the Pro Stock field in the final qualifying session, and it backed up a solid 6.922-second pass at 199.85 mph run earlier Saturday in the heat of the day.

“Today was more comparable to what tomorrow is going to be than having two night sessions,” Enders said. “We were able to get our race-day setup ready, and I’m feeling confident. I went up there and tried to cut a good light, and my guys just gave me a really awesome race car. I knew that when I uncluched it that it wanted to go somewhere. It’s definitely nice to go to sleep on a Saturday night with a run like that under your belt.”

Saturday’s two good passes came after a somewhat difficult Friday as Enders and her team adjusted to the Denver altitude.

“Friday wasn’t as great as we would have liked it to be but we are learning,” Enders said. “Having said that, we are still the third-quickest from the session last night, so it’s encouraging for tomorrow.”

Enders will race No. 14 qualifier Matt Hartford in the first round Sunday. Hartford’s best lap was 7.084 seconds at 197.25 mph.

Erica Enders, Elite Motorsports step up to qualify no. 1 at Bristol Dragway

Erica Enders qualifies number 1 at Bristol | 2015

BRISTOL, TN — The pressure was on in the final Pro Stock qualifying session for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Saturday at Bristol Dragway, and Erica Enders and the Elite Motorsports team came through in a big way.

Conditions were ripe for a terrific pass in the rain-delayed final session, and Enders stepped up with a 6.632 at 207.59 mph to snare her first career No. 1 qualifier in Bristol and earn a sleeve of green hats given to the top qualifier.

“I’m really excited to be on the pole,” Enders said. “My guys look forward to green hats, so we’ve got to thank Mello Yello for starting that tradition. It’s been pretty exciting for our entire team.”

Enders was sitting in the No. 4 spot heading into the final session, which started about 8:30 p.m. Eastern, long after its regularly scheduled time. The track had cooled, and Pro Stock’s best took a swing at low elapsed time, and it was Enders who came through.

“It definitely was a long day,” Enders said. “I think we came to the staging lanes five or six times, and I got suited up and buckled in twice and did a burnout once before going back to the trailer (without making a run), so it was definitely a long day.

“We went up there for Q4, and we knew the air got better and the racetrack was in the best condition it’s been all weekend, so we went after a little bit. My crew chiefs (Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll) did an excellent job.”

The No. 1 was her fourth of the season and 16th of her career. She was also No. 1 earlier this year in Pomona, Calif.; Phoenix; and Topeka, Kan. She reached the final round at all three of those events, winning in Topeka.

She has also been hot in Bristol, reaching the final round in three of the last four races and winning in 2014.

Enders was chasing Greg Anderson in Bristol after Anderson claimed the provisional No. 1 with a pass of 6.646 seconds at 206.67 mph.

“We wanted to go out there and put up a big number, but Greg has had a really good race car for the last four or five races,” Enders said. “He and that entire Summit team are going to be tough all year.

“But I’m really proud of my guys. I knew when I unclutched the car that it was going to be a good pass, but I didn’t know it was that good until my crew chief radioed me. It felt pretty nice, but we were still conservative down low, so there’s definitely more on the table.”

Pro Stock leader Erica Enders anxious to challenge for fourth win of the year

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — After winning three of the last four races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, reigning Pro Stock champion and current points leader Erica Enders would be a favorite no matter where she qualified for this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Summernationals. Fortunately, her Elite Motorsports Camaro is running as well as she has been driving, setting the table for another potential victory celebration at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

“Our confidence and attitude is certainly in the right place after winning three of the last four races,” Enders said. “At the same time, past performances mean nothing in drag racing. You have to prove yourself each and every round, each and every race, so we’ll be ready to do that.”

Enders qualified third with a 6.500 at 213.60 mph, which means she’ll begin elimination racing with lane choice against No. 14 qualifier Alan Prusiensky (6.615 at 210.50 mph). So far this year, Enders has won from the first, second, and fourth starting slots.

“Consistency is the key in drag racing, and that’s especially the case in Pro Stock because every race seems to be decided by just a few thousandths of a second,” Enders said. “We know our capabilities and the three guys tuning this RacingInRed.com Camaro are the best in the business, so I know I’ll sleep well tonight.

“Race day always gets me excited, and when you’re on a hot streak that feeling is amplified. We tested some extra things today and feel like we have the perfect combination to go rounds tomorrow. That’s the plan.”

Although she has accumulated 15 professional victories — just three shy of legend Shirley Muldowney’s 18-win career mark — Enders hasn’t found ultimate success at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park to date. That’s something she’d like to change Sunday.

“I’m not sure why we’ve struggled here,” Enders said. “We did set the national speed record last year here, so that was cool, but otherwise I’ve never had a perfect weekend at Old Bridge. My husband Richie (Stevens, fellow Pro Stock racer) has done real well here, so we talked a lot about this track during the week. I hope some of his mojo rubbed off on me.

“The Napp family (track owners) have made this place such a special stop on the tour. They’re old Jr. Dragster racers like me, and I’d love to visit their winner’s circle. It’s such an historic race, definitely one I’d like to win.”

Eliminations for Pro Stock are slated to begin around noon ET. ESPN2 will carry all the racing action Sunday afternoon.

Erica Enders stays hot, puts Elite Motorsports Chevy at top of Pro Stock chart

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ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports team continue to pace the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class, speeding to the provisional No. 1 qualifier at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals on Friday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Enders was quickest in all three qualifying sessions and all four rounds of eliminations in winning at Heartland Park Topeka two weeks ago for her third victory in the last four races.

In the second qualifying session Friday in Englishtown, Enders’ pass of 6.508 seconds at 213.06 mph put the 2014 Pro Stock champion at the top of the chart.

“We just feel like we’re getting a better handle on the tire and the fuel,” Enders said. “I know I talk about that a lot, but it’s been a true challenge for everyone in the class. With our new race car, we’re applying those changes and learning the best we can from the data we’ve acquired. It’s all going in the right direction.

“Pro Stock goes in spurts and waves, and I know that, but right now we’re doing really well as a team. We’re having fun, most importantly, and that contributes a lot to our on-track success.”

While Enders’ streak of having low elapsed time in each round ended at seven, she bounced back from a 6.550-second run that was sixth-quickest in Q1 to take the top spot.

“In the first run, we were just way too conservative,” Enders said. “We went out there in Q2 and just got after it. I knew when I un-clutched it that we were on a good run. It just speaks volumes of my crew chiefs and what they’re capable of.

“Of course, they’re perfectionists, so when we got back to the trailer, they were like, ‘We should’ve done this, done that.’ We’re excited about tomorrow and proud of what we accomplished today.”

Enders was helped by better weather conditions in Q2, as temperatures dropped, but air conditions improved, too.

“The second session was definitely a little bit better,” Enders said. “In Pro Stock, we look at barometer mostly, how many water grains are in the air, humidity, so it was a little bit better on that run. We knew going into today that it wasn’t going to be record-setting conditions.”

And conditions tomorrow may not be any better, when the final two qualifying sessions are scheduled.

“It’s supposed to be seven degrees warmer, so we’re just going to have to watch the barometer closely and see what happens,” Enders said. “It should be OK, and if that’s the case, we’re going to do a little testing tomorrow and see if we can better ourselves for Sunday.”

Nine years after her first No. 1, Erica Enders earns another in Topeka

  
TOPEKA, KS — In 2006, Erica Enders earned her first No. 1 qualifier at Heartland Park Topeka to become the first woman to win a Pro Stock pole. Nine years later, Enders went to the top of the chart in Topeka again, earning the No. 1 qualifier at the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Saturday.

“It’s pretty cool,” Enders said. “I thought about that coming in here on Thursday, so it definitely was a fun memory here, becoming the first female No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock. We’ve gone on to do some really great things (with Elite Motorsports).”
Enders won the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship with Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports team and has 14 career victories and 15 career poles.

At Heartland Park, Enders led all three qualifying sessions — the fourth was rained out — with her top pass of 6.150 seconds at 211.43 mph earning her the No. 1 spot. She earned nine bonus points by being the quickest in each qualifying session.

“I’m always confident in my guys,” Enders said. “They give me a very consistent race car, and that makes my job a little easier, to where I just focus on driving and not wonder what the car is going to do — if we’re going to blow the tires off, if it’s going to hook right or left. Being low for every session is pretty exciting. We were able to do that some last year and accumulate those three bonus points per round that you’re low.

“Coming to the final race of last year, every point mattered, so we’ll take ’em when we can get ’em.”

Perhaps the only reason she didn’t earn 12 bonus points was because the final qualifying session was canceled because of rain.

“I would’ve liked it,” Enders said. “I’ll drive any chance I get, but it was a good call with the rain coming in. But I would’ve loved to have gone out there and given it another shot to see if we could be low one more time. I think we’ve got a good handle on the car and hopefully a good race-day setup for tomorrow.”

Enders begins her chase for the Kansas Nationals victory against No. 16 qualifier Mark Hogan.

“We’ve had an awesome weekend,” Enders said. “It’s a brand-new race car and our second race in a row with it. We’re just trying to get a handle on it, and my guys have done a great job.”

New Camaro propels Enders to track records in Topeka

TOPEKA, KS — The decision to bring out a new Chevrolet Camaro midway through the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season paid record dividends for Erica Enders during the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Friday at Heartland Park Topeka.

The 2014 Pro Stock champion set track elapsed-time and speed records with her new Elite Motorsports Chevy to snare the provisional No. 1 qualifier. Her pass of 6.515 seconds at 211.43 mph in the first qualifying session broke the e.t. record of 6.566 seconds set by Jason Line in May 2012 and the speed record of 211.30 mph set by Greg Anderson, also in May 2012.

“It’s been awesome,” Enders said. “We’ve had a really good hot rod for most of the year, and we brought out a new race car in Atlanta last week, so we feel like we’re taking baby steps to get it to run the way we want to. It’s proving to be an awesome race car so far.

“The weather is a little bit uncharacteristic of this time of year up here, so it’s cool to capture the record, but we’ve got our work cut out for us, as we always do. Pro Stock is super competitive, and I’m just really proud of my guys for running this well.”

The crew chief trio of Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll have been dialing in the new car, which debuted in Atlanta with a No. 2 qualifier and a semifinal finish. Enders credited a quick launch of the car in Topeka with her quick times.

“I have three tremendous crew chiefs, Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll,” Enders said. “They were up yesterday looking at the track and today as well. Between that, they were tracking weather and putting the best setup we possibly could in our car. We picked it up at 60 feet. We’re not a top 60-foot team, and today, both times, we’ve been No. 1 or No. 2. The car is leaving really nice and smooth, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

Cooler temperatures descended on Heartland Park on Friday, and Enders expected to pick up in Q2. She was quickest of the round, though she slowed slightly with a pass of 6.520 seconds at 210.93 mph.

“We thought it would be a little faster tonight,” Enders said. “My crew chiefs said we’d go a .51 first round, and we did. Tonight, we figured we’d be able to improve and run a low .50 or a high .49, and the water kinda moved in quickly while we were up there, so that’s what slowed it down a little bit.”

More water, in the form of rain, is expected Saturday, which could wash out the final two qualifying sessions. Still, Enders and her team are planning for Sunday’s eliminations.

“Since we’re sitting in the top position, we’ll keep trying to be consistent and bettering our runs and perfect that race-day setup,” Enders said.

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