Posts Tagged Race Preview

Independence Day an Important Holiday for Elite Motorsports Driver Enders-Stevens

Erica Enders-Stevens Route 66 Raceway

NORWALK, Ohio — For Elite Motorsports Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens, Independence Day is a reminder of all the people who helped make the United States the country it is.

The Pro Stock points leader has shown her patriotism in various forms over the years, including visiting military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Gulf War. She now serves as a spokesperson for Hot Rods for Heroes, an organization dedicated to honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifices for our freedoms.

“It’s an important day for our country, and we need to remember how blessed we are to have the troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to remain free and do what we love to do,” Enders-Stevens said as she prepares to race at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals this weekend at Summit Motorsports Park. “July 4 always helps me keep everything in perspective.”

July 4 is an important holiday for Summit Motorsports Park, as the Bader family traditionally holds a big fireworks show during the race weekend. This weekend, the show will be on July 4.

“They have the best fireworks show around,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got a little buddy named Robert who races Jr. Dragsters there, and every year he comes by my pit to get me and we go watch the fireworks together. I always look forward to that.”

Enders-Stevens also looks forward to the friendliness and professionalism of the entire Summit Motorsports Park staff, from track president Bill Bader Jr. on down. The track has long been known for its hospitality to racers and fans.

Enders-Stevens hasn’t exactly been hospitable to the Pro Stock class this year, as she leads the standings by 190 points at the halfway mark of the season. She has won three times in four final-round appearances — not including the special K&N Horsepower Challenge race in Las Vegas — and is yet to lose in the first round.

After qualifying No. 5 at the season-opener, Enders-Stevens has qualified first or second in 10 of the 11 races since.

But the Elite Motorsports team will not sit on its hands.

“There is absolutely no complacency,” Enders-Stevens said. “Things are just going to get more difficult as the year goes on. We really want to be on top at the end of the year, and we’ve got to remain hungry, consistent, and give it our all.”

Qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will be held at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens Hoping for Another Memorable Chicago Race

Erica Enders-Stevens in Bristol winner's circle

CHICAGO — The life of Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens changed forever on July 1, 2012, when she scored her first career Pro Stock victory at Route 66 Raceway — and became engaged to Richie Stevens.

Enders-Stevens is hoping to recreate the same kind of magic when NHRA returns for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals this weekend.

“Chicago 2012 is obviously one of the best events in my racing career and in my personal life,” Enders-Stevens said. “We worked seven years to try to get a win in Pro Stock, and for it to finally happen in Chicago — and then for me to get engaged after that — it made for a dream weekend.”

Enders-Stevens has since risen to the top of the Pro Stock ladder, winning eight more times. Three of those victories have come this season, and she leads the points standings in the ultra-competitive class by a whopping 183 points.

Her pairing with Richard Freeman’s Elite team has been a boon to her career, as crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones consistently have her near the top of the field.

Enders-Stevens has qualified fifth or better in every race, including one No. 1 qualifier and seven No. 2s, and she has won at least one round in all 11 races to date, including six semifinal appearances and four finals.

And now she heads to Route 66 Raceway, one of her favorite tracks.

“I’m looking forward to Chicago because it’s always been close to my heart,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s sentimental because it’s where I went to my first final round when I became pro, when I first started, and of course that’s where we got our first win in 2012. I’m looking forward to going back and starting with a clean slate this weekend.”

Her love of the track goes even further back than her pro career, back when she raced the Sportsman classes.

“Even before Pro Stock, I raced Super Comp and Super Gas there,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got a lot of memories there and am looking to making some great new ones with my new team.”

Qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals will be held at 4:30 and 7:15 p.m., Friday, and 4:15 and 7:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action, including live coverage of the final two rounds.

Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports Team on a Roll Heading to Epping

Erica Enders-Stevens, Rick and Rickie Jones in Bristol

EPPING, NH — Fresh off a victory at Bristol Dragway, Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team will tackle New England Dragway for the first time during this weekend’s Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.

The inaugural race in Epping was held last year, but neither Enders-Stevens nor the Elite team raced that weekend.

“I’m looking forward to going to Epping,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve never been there before because that was one of the races last year we didn’t have any sponsorship. I’ve heard it was cool and the fans were great.

“We’ll try to carry the momentum from Bristol to there and see how it goes.”

The win in Bristol was her third of the season, and it increased her points lead in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class to 155. The team owned by Richard Freeman, with crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, has been fast at every track this season, so not racing last year in Epping is not a concern to Enders-Stevens.

“We don’t have any data there, but there’s not a racetrack anywhere that my crew chiefs can’t handle,” Enders-Stevens said. “They do a really good job with this race car, and I’m not worried about it at all. We’ll be fine. We’ll take it round by round and day by day.”

The Epping race is the second in a four-week stretch that can tax even the most well-prepared teams. Following Bristol and Epping, NHRA racers will compete in Chicago and Norwalk before getting a week off, then the three-race Western Swing begins.

“We’ve really prepared well for this stretch,” Enders-Stevens said. “The team has really worked hard and put in a lot of time at the shop. I like racing multiple races like this because you’re in the seat every weekend and you get more and more comfortable. I feel like I’m more on top of my job.

“Plus, we’ve got a fast hot rod right now, so my confidence as a driver is high and the morale of the team is terrific.”

Qualifying begins Friday with sessions at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. Eastern. The final two qualifying sessions will take place at 12:15 and 2:45 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN2 will have one hour of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m., Saturday, and a two-hour eliminations show at 2 p.m., Sunday.

Points leader Enders-Stevens Hopes to Keep ‘Dream Season’ Going in Bristol

Erica Enders-Stevens Englishtown Elite Motorsports

BRISTOL, TN — The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has been a “dream season” for Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens, and she intends to keep the dream going during this weekend’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Enders-Stevens leads the points standings by 123 points in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class with two national event victories and a win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge.

At the most recent race in Englishtown, N.J., Enders-Stevens set the national record in elapsed time (6.464 seconds) and speed (215.55 mph).

“Hopefully, we can hold it for a while,” Enders-Stevens said. “Now that it’s the summer months, I don’t think there will be mine-shaft conditions, at least not until Reading. That’s usually the next race where records are broken.

“It meant a lot to us. I know it meant a lot to my team because speed equals horsepower in Pro Stock, and it just goes to show how strong our engine program is. I know Richard Freeman, Nick Ferri, and Jake Hairston are all very proud of it, along with the rest of my team. It’s just another accomplishment in what has been a dream season so far.”

And now she heads to Bristol, one of her favorite NHRA venues.

“Bristol is probably one of my top-three favorite tracks on the tour,” Enders-Stevens said. “I really enjoy going there, and it’s an awesome facility. It’s the South, and the people are all so kind.”

Plus, Enders-Stevens has reached the final round in two of the last three Bristol races, including the 2011 event when she returned to Pro Stock full time after five years.

“That was our first final-round appearance together,” Enders-Stevens said. “Since then I’ve been to one more final there. I haven’t won Bristol, but we’ve been runner-up a couple times. I’m looking forward to going back and going one extra round.”

Enders-Stevens has been busy since Englishtown, traveling to the Chevrolet Performance shop in Detroit with team owner Freeman to take delivery of a COPO Camaro.

“We got to take a tour of the factory and see every step of the production of the COPO Camaro,” Enders-Stevens said. “They only produce 69 cars per year, so it’s very special and it’s an elite group of people who have a COPO car.

“When we got to the end of the line and pulled the car cover off our Camaro, it was an exciting moment for all of us. I had no idea until that day that I was going to be a part of that program with Richard, and he asked that my name be put on the certificate of authenticity alongside his. That was a surreal moment and really exciting for me. I don’t show excitement very much, but that was a pretty amazing moment.”

Freeman made sure Enders-Stevens got behind the wheel with a Chevrolet official, and she drove it around the block before doing some burnouts in the parking lot. The future plan is for her to drive the car at some NHRA races later this season.

After Detroit, Enders-Stevens went to the Elite shop in Oklahoma before heading home for some time before a four-week stretch of races begins with Bristol.

Four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying will feature sessions at 5 and 7:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are slated to start at 1 p.m., Sunday. Both qualifying and elimination action will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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