Posts Tagged Race Preview

Three-time Four-Wide finalist Enders-Stevens ready to break through

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens has accomplished a lot in her drag racing career, winning 12 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races and the 2014 Pro Stock championship, but one race that has eluded her has been the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.

Enders-Stevens will get another shot to win the event this weekend in Charlotte, where she has raced to the final round for three consecutive years.

“Maybe the change in the race date will change our luck,” Enders-Stevens said of the event that has been run in April in the past. “We’ve done everything but win Charlotte, and it would be nice to get over the hump.”

Enders-Stevens is the only Pro Stock driver to reach the event’s final round in each of the last three years, a feat in itself given the difficult nature of four-wide racing. Traditional drag races are two lanes, but the Four-Wide Nationals places extra demands on a driver’s concentration and talent.

“The Four-Wide race is always interesting, for sure,” Enders-Stevens said. “We obviously don’t race anything like it all year, so it is always an adjustment when we get to Charlotte. But I have faith in my guys to give me a fast race car, and that gives me a lot of confidence going there.”

Elite Motorsports debuted a new Chevrolet Camaro for Enders-Stevens in Gainesville, Fla., and the car is still in the development stages, but with crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, as well as Mark Ingersoll and the entire Elite Motorsports crew, she is confident the car will produce long-term results.

“My guys are the best in the business, and I know that car is going to be fast,” Enders-Stevens said. “I can’t think of no better place for us to get its first win than in Charlotte. I love the fans there and the area is great, too. Plus, two of my best friends in the world — Laura Cochran and Lacee Tuttle — live there, and it’s always great to see them. We’ll do our best this weekend and hope for a great result.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. ET, Friday and Saturday, and final eliminations will start at approximately 1:45 p.m., Sunday. Qualifying will be broadcasted on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis and elimination action will be live on ESPN starting at 2 p.m. ET.

Enders-Stevens to bring the heat in the Valley of the Sun

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PHOENIX, AZ — As the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series speeds along to the second stop on the 2015 schedule, defending Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders-Stevens is determined to bring home the Wally from this weekend’s CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

“Pomona was our first race out with a new teammate and a new engine-leasing customer and we all did really well, so it was nice to get that under our belt,” Enders-Stevens said. “To have all three Elite Motorsports cars in the semifinals was pretty awesome. It was just nice to get back into the swing of things and establish our new routine.”

Knocking the dust off in Pomona, Calif., after the long off-season, Enders-Stevens feels as though she’s getting her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro warmed up and ready to compete.

“Not to be negative but Pomona was a huge struggle for me and my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “I struggled driving, we struggled with car setup, and we had two new rules implemented this year with a new tire and a new fuel that we’re still getting acquainted with. We’re really trying to gather as much data as we possibly can. To do as well as we did says a lot about this team overall. I don’t feel like we showed our cards at all in Pomona.”

Enders-Stevens is no stranger to success at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. After capturing the win in 2013 over veteran and fellow series champion Mike Edwards, she is anxious to repeat that success again in front of some familiar faces.

“I know that we’re capable of so much more, so I’m really excited and optimistic heading into Phoenix this week,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve won at this track before. Plus, it’s kind of like a second hometown race for me because my family is from there. I’m ready to get back behind the wheel this weekend and show them what we have.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:30 and 4 p.m. PT, Friday and Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

With the Pro Stock title in sight, Enders-Stevens is focused on having fun

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POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 10) — Even with the NHRA Pro Stock championship on the line during this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the No. 1 goal for Erica Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team is to have fun.

That has been the goal since Enders-Stevens joined the team this year, and it has paid off with five victories and the points lead heading into the season finale. And there’s no reason to change now.

“It’s such an awesome environment to work in, and (team owner) Richard Freeman is just an awesome guy to work for,” Enders-Stevens said. “He’s great at managing people, making everyone feel important, and at communication. We have team meetings, and we all always just stay on the same page. I think that’s how you make any relationship work, whether it be business or marriage or whatever.

“He’s done a really great job with that, and he’s made it very evident that if we’re not having fun, we’re not going to do it. We have a blast together.”

Winning helps that attitude, of course, but Enders-Stevens and her team are always smiling and joking no matter what. That positive outlook has helped through some trying times this season and enabled Enders-Stevens to bounce back from losing the points lead to regain it at the most recent race in Las Vegas.

Enders-Stevens is 17 points ahead of second-place Jason Line heading into Pomona after she beat Line in the Vegas semifinal before winning the race.

“People are the most important part of the puzzle, and Richard has certainly organized an elite group of people,” Enders-Stevens said. “Rick and Rickie Jones as my crew chiefs and all of the guys that work on my car, it’s just awesome, and we do have a blast whether we’re out to eat or at the racetrack winning and losing together. It’s always a fun time.”

But they take racing seriously, too, as shown by their terrific season to date. She has led the points standings for 13 of the 23 events so far in 2014, even after skipping two Western Swing races to prepare for the end of the year. In addition to the five wins, Enders-Stevens has raced to one other final round and four semifinal appearances.

Plus, she has scored six No. 1 qualifiers, including the last three in a row. In 18 of her 21 races this year, she has qualified in the top three 18 times.

All those numbers could add up to Enders-Stevens becoming the first female champion in the history of Pro Stock.

“Yeah, it’s certainly a huge feat to accomplish,” Enders-Stevens said. “I would have my name on a list with just Shirley Muldowney and Angelle (Sampey), and those are two of my heroes. To be able to have the opportunity to get it done is awesome in itself.

“At the same time I think any female racer will tell you that we just want to be looked at as a driver. The car doesn’t know the difference in gender, and it certainly doesn’t matter to me, but at the end of the day I guess it would be very awesome to be able to make history and just show any other females that maybe even had a little bit of doubt that they weren’t capable or whatever that I’m a perfect example of a normal kid — through hard work and certainly surrounding myself with the right people and having such a solid support group — that anything is possible, and I hope that’s the message that comes across to them.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens hoping for another dream weekend in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — No Pro Stock driver accomplished more at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March than Elite Motorsports’ Erica Enders-Stevens, but she is far from satisfied with her 2014 success in Vegas as she and her team prepare for this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Nationals.

Enders-Stevens won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge race in Las Vegas in March and then doubled up when she went to the winner’s circle in the regular national event.

“I always enjoy racing in Vegas,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s one of my favorite tracks to run at. We had a lot of fun there in the spring and a lot of success, being able to win the K&N Challenge and then double up and win the race on Sunday. That was definitely an exciting showing at The Strip, so I can’t wait to go back.”

Another good showing in Vegas would help Enders-Stevens continue to move up the ladder in the Pro Stock standings. With two races left in the Countdown to the Championship, she sits second, 35 points out of the lead. She has gained two spots in each of the last two races, where she has qualified No. 1 both times and reached the semifinals in each.

Enders-Stevens has four national event victories, five No. 1 qualifiers, and five final-round appearances in 20 races this season, and she also set the national records for elapsed time and speed in 2014.

Winning her first Pro Stock championship is the ultimate goal, but Enders-Stevens and her team are focused on doing the best they can in each round of qualifying and racing.

“Of course, it’s crossed my mind, as far as being the champion is concerned,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s every driver’s goal and it’s our team’s goal as well. We’re going to do everything that we can to get it done.

“Having said that, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. God’s already got a plan, so we’ll do our best and see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens, who last raced at Maple Grove Raceway three weeks ago, is fired up to get back to racing.

“We’re not preparing any different than any other race,” Enders-Stevens said. “The guys have been working really hard in the shop, trying to find more horsepower. We’re excited to get these next two races underway.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1 and 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens Continues Championship Charge at Maple Grove

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 1) — The battle for the 2014 Pro Stock championship moves to Maple Grove Raceway for this weekend’s NHRA Nationals, and Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens is motivated to get to the top.

She has won four times this season and is third in the Pro Stock points standings at the halfway point of the Countdown to the Championship. She’s a little more than three rounds out of first place, though, with three races remaining this season.

“I’m really excited, really confident,” Enders-Stevens said. “Things are going to go down to the wire, and that’s what makes Pro Stock all the more exciting. It’s going to be a dogfight, and we’re right in the mix.”

Enders-Stevens is 67 points behind leader Jason Line and 41 behind second-place Dave Connolly after a semifinal finish at Gateway Motorsports Park last weekend.

She qualified No. 1 in St. Louis and had the quickest car in six of the seven runs over the weekend. She also drove well, leaving first on all three opponents at Gateway.

“I’m proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They give me a great, consistent race car. Everybody pulls their weight and digs deep when we’ve got quick turnaround times or it’s hot and you’re sweating and you’re hungry.

“They do a great job, and I’m driving up to that car. Together, we can accomplish anything. As long as I stay up on the wheel like I have been and they keep giving me a race car, we can accomplish a lot of great things together.”

One of those great things could be a national elapsed time record. Enders-Stevens holds the record of 6.464 seconds, set in Englishtown, N.J., earlier this year, but conditions at Maple Grove could bring another mark.

“The weather looks awesome,” she said. “It’s going to be chilly and hopefully conducive for a national record. We’ve certainly got the car and the team to do so, and we’ll be swinging for the fences there.

“It won’t change our game plan, but it is exciting looking ahead and knowing we’re capable of doing that.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 11:15 and 2:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

St. Louis Could be Enders-Stevens’ ‘Gateway’ to the Championship

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 23) — Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens has been perfect at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals since its addition to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule in 2012, and she hopes to keep her streak alive at Gateway Motorsports Park

Heading into St. Louis with the title of two-time defending champion, Enders-Stevens will be the odds-on favorite to complete the trifecta this weekend. Chasing the 2014 championship, Enders-Stevens’ Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet will prove hard to beat.

“I’m really looking forward to going back to St. Louis,” Enders-Stevens. “We’re the defending champions there the last two consecutive years. That racetrack is really good to me; it’s definitely a lucky track.

“We always perform pretty well there. We’ve done a lot of testing there, so a lot of laps up and down that racetrack have been made.”

Returning to a track where she has had so much success, Enders-Stevens has faith that the dream season is going to continue with help from her Elite Motorsports team. Currently fourth in the standings, just 59 points behind leader Jason Line, Enders-Stevens feels confident that St. Louis could be the turning point she needs in the Countdown to the Championship.

“With this team, I feel even more capable than I ever have before,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m excited to get back there; the fans are always great and the facility is nice.

“We’re going to kick the weekend off with a press conference Thursday, followed by the Fan Festival downtown. It should be a really good, fun weekend for us. I’m excited to hit the road with my team and get the Countdown rolling in our direction.”

Qualifying sessions will be held at 2:45 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

Enders-Stevens Aims for Dallas Double

Erica Enders-Stevens is looking to double up in Dallas after Charlotte cancellation

DALLAS (Sept. 17) — The weekend at Texas Motorplex is shaping up to be an historic one for Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens.

The Texas native is debuting a new partnership with Mach 1 Global Services, which is backing her powerful Elite Motorsports Chevrolet for the remainder of the season.

Plus, Enders-Stevens is the No. 1 qualifier for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals, which will be completed this weekend before getting another shot at a Wally with the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

“Dallas should be an exciting weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “Not only is it my home state, but we’re debuting a new sponsor there, too. To top all of that off, we qualified No. 1 for the Charlotte race, and we didn’t finish first round there, so it will be a race within a race.”

Enders-Stevens has a chance to repeat her success from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from March, when she won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge before winning the NHRA national event.

“That would be cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll have to see how things go. It’s going to be totally different conditions in Dallas. The track is a narrow-groove facility, so we’ve definitely got to be on our toes there. We get one qualifying hit before we start racing, so we’ve got to have it together when we step on the property.”

Enders-Stevens had a stellar weekend in Charlotte before the race was postponed. She was quickest in each of the four qualifying sessions, earning the No. 1 spot and cutting into Jason Line’s points lead.

She’ll get one qualifying pass down Texas Motorplex on Friday before the continuation of the Charlotte race, which also counts as Q2 for Dallas. Enders-Stevens is slated to race No. 16 qualifier John Gaydosh in Charlotte’s first round.

Dallas’ Q3 and Q4 will also be Charlotte’s second round and semifinals, respectively, with the final being an additional round on Saturday.

Then there’s the Dallas race itself, an event no woman has won in Pro Stock.

“It’d be really neat to win,” Enders-Stevens said. “I make it known everywhere I go how much I love Texas, and to be back in my home state on front of friends and family is very exciting.

“I remember racing A.J. (Allen Johnson) in the final in 2012, and we had an electrical issue. My car shut off when I let the clutch out, so I didn’t even have a chance.

“But it’d be cool to win there. I really want to get that cowboy hat.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

Enders-Stevens Ready to Get No. 1 Spot Back at U.S. Nationals

Enders-Stevens Ready to Get Back Number 1 Spot in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 26) — Engines Inc. driver Erica Enders-Stevens is ready to reclaim her spot atop the Pro Stock points standings during the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Enders-Stevens led the Pro Stock standings for 13 of the 17 races to date, but a parts failure during the first round in Brainerd, Minn., caused her to drop to second.

Indy marks the final race before the Countdown to the Championship, and Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team are looking at the big picture: the Pro Stock championship.

“It’s how we finish the season that’s going to be important,” Enders-Stevens said. “Indy obviously is the most prestigious race of the year, the Super Bowl of drag racing, so I’m very hopeful to go out there and just have a really great weekend and get our No. 1 spot back from Jason Line to go into that No. 1 seed into the Countdown in Charlotte.

“I don’t believe any woman in a professional category has ever gone into the playoffs in the No. 1 position so far. It’s certainly at the top of our list of goals, but it’s not detrimental if it doesn’t happen. We’ll just have to start out swinging in Charlotte as hard as we can and go from there and remain positive and continue to have fun as a team. I’m very optimistic of what we’ll be able to accomplish.”

Enders-Stevens has had a stellar season, winning four national events and the special K&N Horsepower Challenge. She has qualified No. 1 twice and third or better in 14 of her 15 races.

“My mindset is going to be the same as it has been all year,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m extremely blessed to be in the position I am in, with a great team at Elite Motorsports standing behind me. It’s been a dream season up to this point, and we’re hopeful to carry that momentum and that confidence through the end of the year. I’m very optimistic about what’s to come.”

Enders-Stevens did not race at Indy in 2013 but reached the final round in 2012. She fully appreciates the prestige of the U.S. Nationals.

“It’s just got so much history,” Enders-Stevens said. “As a kid, I grew up watching all of the legends that I looked up to — Shirley Muldowney and Bob Glidden and the ones after them — and it’s just been one of those races and one of those facilities that’s so awesome and holds so much history. NHRA held the first Jr. Drag Racing League National Championship there in 1994, and I was part of that.

“In 2001 we got down to three cars out of 174 in Super Comp and then in 2012 we were runner-up in Pro Stock as well, so I feel like I’ve got a lot of unfinished business there and I’m hopeful we can get it done this year.

“It’s just an awesome facility and it gives you goose bumps when you walk in the gate there. It’s one of those deals that’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there and experienced it yourself.”

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