Posts Tagged Race Recap

Erica Enders charges to Pro Stock finals in Chicago, settles for second place

CHICAGO, IL — Two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders nearly recreated history Sunday at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals before coming up a fraction of a second short of her ultimate goal of winning another Wally trophy.

Enders was the first woman in history to win a Pro Stock race in 2012 when she reigned supreme at Route 66 Raceway. Although she couldn’t close the deal this time through, her third final-round showing of the season proves her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro will be a contender once the playoffs start.

“These are the days that are really exciting,” Enders said. “Dealing with live TV on FOX forced us to have 30-minute turnarounds between rounds so it really tested the mettle of the crews. As always, my guys answered the call and we had one heckuva outing.

“Chicago has a special meaning to us. We got our first win here back in 2012 and my first final-round appearance was at this track in 2005 so it’s been very good to me over the years. Would we like to have won today? Absolutely, but it was a good day all-in-all for the Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports team.”

For the third time ever, Enders faced good friend Drew Skillman in the final round. This time it was Skillman with the better car as he was able to quickly catch and pass a fast-leaving Enders to win with a 6.627 at 209.23 mph to Enders’ 6.655 at 207.37 mph. Skillman now has a slight 2-1 advantage over Enders when the trophy is on the line.

“When you look at the other ETs on paper, there’s no reason why we should have gotten past second round, let alone third, so getting to the final was a real bonus,” Enders said. “I’m proud of my team and I’m proud of the racing we did today. I’m definitely happy with our performance here.”

Enders improved her career record to 22 victories and 16 runner-up results. She has one win and two runner-up finishes this year.

This particular day wasn’t easy. After beating part-timer Chris McGaha in Round 1, 6.651 at 208.91 mph to McGaha’s 6.665 at 208.59 mph, she faced multi-time world champions and teammates Greg Anderson and Jason Line in back-to-back rounds.

Against Anderson she used a massive .051-second reaction time advantage to steal the win with a 6.649 at 208.68 mph to Anderson’s quicker-but-losing 6.614 at 209.59 mph. She then narrowly edged Line by .006 seconds with a 6.649 at 208.46 mph to Line’s 6.654 at 208.88 mph. Enders left on all four of her Sunday opponents.

“The adrenaline was pumping all day and my Rick Jones Race Cars-built Camaro was so solid,” Enders said. “It was a fun race.”

The NHRA tour takes a weekend off before returning to action July 21-23 with the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver.

“We are taking a team vacation to Grand Cayman, all 26 of us,” Enders said. “When we get back we are going to test in Tulsa before we head out on the Western Swing. We’re running better but we still have work to do on all four team cars. We’ll try to sort them out in Tulsa. I’m excited for the time off and excited to get back after it in Denver to see if we can’t carry this momentum.”

Too quick at the Tree, two-time champ Erica Enders departs Norwalk race early

Erica Enders | 2017 NHRA Pro Stock Norwalk

NORWALK, OH — As the driver of the lower qualified car in the less-favored left-hand lane, two-time world champion Erica Enders knew a stellar reaction time would help her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro race team tremendously in their Sunday morning match-up with teammate Vincent Nobile.

Unfortunately, Enders dropped the clutch a fraction of a second early, drawing a -.004 second red-light disqualification, which negated her quicker pass of 6.583 seconds at 210.93 mph. Nobile took the victory at the start and then ran a 6.595 at 210.37 mph to advance to the quarterfinals of the 11th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.

“There’s no excuse for a red light,” Enders said. “I just left too early and that cost us the win, plain and simple. I feel bad for the guys because Rick and Rickie (Jones, co-crew chiefs) had a great tune-up for the conditions and we would have won under most situations, but woulda, shoulda, coulda…I didn’t get it done.

“I’m continually amazed at the talent on this team and the togetherness we share. I’m the only one beating myself up. Everyone else is saying, ‘don’t worry E, we’ll get ’em next time.’ We win and lose as a team and today didn’t go our way. At least our Elite Performance teammate Vincent advanced. Hopefully he takes his Mountain View Tires Camaro all the way to the winner’s circle. If not him, then our other teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.”

After four national events in a row, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will take a weekend off before starting the second half of the 24-race season July 7-9 with the 20th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals near Chicago.

“Elite cars have been in five straight finals and six of the last seven finals coming into this race,” Enders said. “I won Epping and Alex (Laughlin) won Bristol. Me, Jeg and Vincent also have runner-up finishes. We’re definitely in the mix every weekend and we’ll go home from here, take a little break, and get ready to crush ’em in Chicago.”

FOX Sports 1 programming of today’s race begins at 6 p.m. ET, Sunday.

Erica Enders returns to her winning ways with impressive Epping victory

Erica Enders | 2017 New England Nationals - Epping, NH

EPPING, NH — Erica Enders raced to her first victory of the electronic fuel injection era Sunday at New England Dragway with an impressive run through a gauntlet of 2017 winners in her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. It was the two-time champion’s first win since the 2015 fall race in Las Vegas, a span of 35 national events.

“People always ask which win means the most and right now I can’t imagine one meaning more than this,” Enders said. “What a huge relief. What a special moment for all of us on this Elite Motorsports team. Money can buy a lot of things but you can’t buy the drive to win this group has inside them.

“This is for my crew. This is for Rick Jones, the best crew chief in the sport. This is for Richard Freeman (team owner) for never giving up on us. Other wins have meant other things, but this one will always be very special.”

Flashing the same driving prowess that earned her historic back-to-back Mello Yello titles in 2014 and 2015, as well as 15 victories during the same two-year stretch, Enders beat reigning world champion and Pomona winner Jason Line, Houston and Atlanta victor Bo Butner, and Las Vegas and Topeka titlist Tanner Gray to pick up her 22nd national event Wally.

After an unopposed opening round, Enders didn’t have the advantage of lane choice in her final three races, but she overcame the deficit with raw driving skill. Her wins over Line and Butner came via holeshots, meaning she used a better reaction time at the starting line to win those races, even though she posted slower elapsed times. By the final, the Elite team had their car in perfect trim, and she beat Gray from end to end.

“I didn’t want to give up anything today,” Enders said. “In fact, I wanted to have my best day behind the wheel that I’ve ever had. I have always prided myself on what I can do in the driver’s seat and today I feel like I gave it all I have. Aside from Round 1, it was a really tough battle every round.”

The day started with Enders getting an unexpected free pass after Round 1 opponent Shane Tucker failed to make the call due to an expired motor. She went on to run a 6.551 at 212.90 mph.

Enders then got a .014-second jump on Line at the start of their quarterfinal tilt but unexpectedly gave up the lead around the 330-foot timer. She then drove back around the champ at 1,000 feet and took the win by a scant nine inches. The final numbers showed Enders winning with a 6.574 at 212.09 mph to Line’s 6.562 at 211.53 mph.

“That ended up being the closest race of the day,” Enders said. “But at the time, as pumped up as you are, you know you’re only halfway to your goal.”

Another great reaction time of .008 seconds against Butner, who had a sluggish .046 light, earned Enders a second holeshot win in the semifinals, with her 6.553 at 212.73 mph putting her six feet ahead of Butner’s 6.533 at 212.33 mph.

“Bo beat us in the Atlanta final so I guess we’re even now,” Enders said. “He’s been so good all year. That was another huge round win right there because that team has been so strong.”

Digging deep with the trophy up for grabs, Enders improved to 2-0 versus Gray by winning their head-to-head finale straight up, leaving the starting line first and arriving at the finish line with a 6.534 at 213.16 mph to Gray’s trailing 6.550 at 212.06 mph.

“The feeling of seeing the win light come on is something that’s impossible to describe,” Enders said. “Even in 2015 when we won nine times, I still felt extremely blessed for every win we earned. It’s always going to be that way because it’s so hard to do.

“The entire Elite team is ready to explode. I hope this opens the flood gates and we start winning a bunch more. I know Jeg (Coughlin) and Vincent (Nobile, teammates) are anxious to get theirs as well.”

Up next is the 48th annual NHRA Summernationals, beginning Friday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

Shimmy, shimmy (tire) shake has Erica Enders dancing to an early exit from Topeka

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Topeka 2017

TOPEKA, KS — Two-time world champion Erica Enders was hoping for more from the 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties, but her usually reliable Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro encountered some severe tire shake just off the launch pad in her opening-round race against teammate Vincent Nobile, resulting in a loss.

After qualifying 7-8 on the elimination ladder, Enders and Nobile knew they would likely have a very close race. As expected, the two experts reacted to the starting lights within one-thousandth of a second of one another. But soon after that, Enders car began to shake its giant rear slicks, reducing the 2014 and 2015 Pro Stock champion to a spectator as Nobile danced away for an easy win.

The final numbers had Nobile cruising to a 6.583 at 210.44 mph to Enders’ forfeiting 9.145 at 109.08 mph.

“We weren’t expecting it to do that,” Enders said. “The guys spent a lot of time overnight and this morning to get us ready to race. It’s disappointing when things don’t go the way you plan. At least Vincent was able to advance so we keep another Elite car in the mix along with Jeg (Coughlin Jr., teammate) on the other side of the ladder.

“This class goes in cycles. The tide is bound to turn in our favor very soon. We have great horsepower, the best people in the sport, lots of drive and determination, and excellent work ethic. We are so eager to get this car back to winning rounds and visiting the winner’s circle with regularity.”

Enders’ next chance at victory comes June 2-4 with the fifth annual NHRA New England Nationals in Epping. N.H.

“It’ll be nice to get back to the shop in Oklahoma and continue working on things to make us better,” Enders said. “We brought out a new motor this weekend and we need to spend a little more time with it to make it work properly with this Rick Jones chassis. The power it showed on the dyno got everyone excited and hopefully we’ll be able to show that off in Epping.”

Elite Motorsports pro Erica Enders has first chance at NHRA trophy in 32 races

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Atlanta 2017

COMMERCE, GA — It may be too early to say Erica Enders is completely back to the championship form that carried her to back-to-back world titles in 2014 and 2015, but she certainly seems to be trending in the right direction. That seems to be the general sentiment after her impressive runner-up finish Sunday at the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, which was highlighted by a pair of Enders’ trademark holeshot wins.

“It should have been three holeshot wins today but yes, this race was definitely a confidence booster,” Enders said. “I wish we were holding the Wally right now but there are a lot races left this year and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for us. The coolest part is everyone knows we’re back and we’re back to being a force to be reckoned with again.”

Enders scored her first big holeshot victory in the quarterfinals when she dusted three-time and reigning Pro Stock champion Jason Line at the starting line with a humongous .048 seconds headstart. That early advantage translated to an easy 6.578-second, 210.77-mph win in front of Line’s quicker-but-losing 6.563 at 210.93 mph.

It was more of the same in the semifinals against rookie Tanner Gray with Enders leaving the line with a near-perfect .002-second light to Gray’s decent .020-second reaction time. Just as it was against Line, Enders slower lap of 6.611 at 210.77 mph was enough to earn a holeshot win over Gray and his 6.600 at 210.83 mph.

The second most prolific female winner in NHRA history tried to pull off the trifecta in the finale, leaving .010 seconds ahead of Bo Butner, but on this day he simply had too much muscle under the hood, driving by Enders and taking the win by. 014 seconds, his 6.569 at 211.26 mph in front of her 6.593 at 210.97 mph.

“I’m proud of my team and the performance we’ve found lately,” Enders said. “Jake Harrison and Nick Ferri, who build our motors, along with all of the guys back at Elite Performance, have been working around the clock and the scoreboards are finally indicating the hard work that goes on to make us look good. I’m proud of them.

“I’m really glad I did my job, especially after red-lighting in Houston and getting timed out in Charlotte — two moments I would like to forget. I’m a better driver than what I’ve shown the last two weeks. Getting a little bit of redemption here, even if it was just for myself, is what I needed.”

Enders racked up 15 of her 21 career victories during her championship run but remarkably this was her first chance at a “Wally” trophy since the fall race in Las Vegas at the end of 2015, a span of 32 national events.

“We nearly didn’t get a chance at the trophy,” Enders said. “I went to fire up this morning and just hitting the starter button I could tell something was wrong. We ended up having to pull that engine out and replace it and we hurried up for first round. Thankfully Alan Prusiensky went red against me because we hurt that motor as well and I barely limped it to the finish line.

“We had to make another engine swap for Round 2, which was a huge round against Jason Line, and we were able to get the win there. And then go on to beat one of our rivals Tanner Gray in the semifinals, that was definitely an exciting couple of rounds for everyone here at Elite Motorsports and Transportation Impact. I’m proud, I’m excited and I cannot wait for Topeka.

“Lastly, happy birthday to Sheila Holt from my oldest sponsor, Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants back in Texas. Also, get better soon!”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports crew will enjoy a week off for Mother’s Day before resuming action May 19-21 with the 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties at Heartland Park Topeka.

Erica Enders gets timed out in first round of NHRA Four-Wide Nationals

Erica Enders | 2017 NHRA 4 Wide | Pro Stock

CONCORD, N.C. — Erica Enders never got a chance to flex the horsepower of her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro Sunday at zMax Dragway because she was timed-out at the starting line after taking too long to stage. It’s one of the hazards of the annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals and every year someone seems to get bit.

“For Jeg and I to qualify 1-2 on the ladder, run the kind of numbers we have run here, I would have bet the house that we’d be fighting for the trophy at the end of the day. At the very least we should have won our opening-round races.

“It just goes to show that even the best in the world have off days and today, Jeg and I did not rise to the occasion. He’s a six-time world champ and I’ve won two championships. Both of us are known for being sharp at the Tree. We just didn’t show it today.”

Coughlin also lost in the opening round due to some further confusion at the starting line caused by the driver in the adjacent lane rolling all the way through both staging beams.

“I just want to focus on the performance gains we had this week,” Enders said. “Unfortunately for Elite Motorsports, Transportation Impact, Mark Stockseth and JEGS.com, we didn’t get to impress them today.

“It’s one of those deals, you know, we win as a team and we lose as a team and days like today are ones that hurt. What was cool was when we got back to the pits our guys never question us. We all know there’s nothing we can do about it now, other than move on to Atlanta.”

Up next, Enders and team head to Atlanta Dragway for next weekend’s 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga.

Erica Enders suffers red-light disqualification in opening round race versus husband

HOUSTON, TX — Two-time world champion Erica Enders threw away what was the quickest and fastest pass of the 30th annual NHRA Spring Nationals by leaving the starting line nine-thousandths of a second early in a Round 1 loss to her husband Richie Stevens.

The automatic disqualification negated a stellar 6.523-second blast at 213.37 mph that would have delivered an easy win over Stevens’ 6.589 at 210.64 mph. It left the Cypress, Texas native more than a little perturbed.

“There was no showing off there,” Enders said, quelling talk she was trying too hard to best her husband. “That was just a simple A to B run. I was set up to be conservative on the tree so we weren’t showing our hand against someone we can easily outrun by six or seven hundredths of a second.

“It is an extremely unfortunate outcome that we red-lit. I’m pretty damn good with sitting on my clutch pedal and I gamble with thousandths of a second all the time and to miss it by nearly a hundred of a second, that just does not happen with me. I’ll risk sounding a little over confident because I think our track record speaks for itself.”

Enders immediately questioned the distant between the pre-stage and staged timing beams, which can sometimes get knocked out of alignment ever so slightly, causing fractionally quicker reaction times.

“I don’t think it was accurate,” Enders said. “Richie didn’t have better than a .040 light all weekend and he went red too (by .003). Go look at all of the other first round match-ups and how good the tree was for everyone. It doesn’t add up.

“I would bet everything I have the roll out (distance between beams) was messed with overnight. It had to been. There’s no way I missed it that much. They get messed sometimes, they absolutely do. They take the whole thing down every night and put it back up so when I’m out here gambling with thousandths of a second, that’s a big risk.

“We were set up there to have about a .020 light and that just wasn’t the case. I am sorry to my whole Elite Motorsports/Lupe Tortilla/Transportation Impact Chevy Camaro team. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow but the good news out of all of it is we finally have a racecar again and they know we are coming.”

Enders won’t have long to brood about her regrettable race as the tour immediately heads east for next weekend’s eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Two-time world champ Erica Enders reaches quarterfinals at Denso NHRA Nationals

Erica Enders | NHRA Las Vegas 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will have to wait for another time to log a fifth career victory at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after a one-up, one-down day at the 18th annual Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals.

Enders drove her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro past teammate Vincent Nobile in Sunday’s opening round before losing to Bo Butner by a scant .014 seconds in the quarterfinals. As usual, Enders had superior reaction times in both races but her head-start in Round 2 wasn’t enough to hold off Butner.

“I think I could have done more behind the wheel to help us win but either way I’m pleased with today’s race,” Enders said. “Of course, we want to win every race we enter but we really turned a page today so I’m feeling very optimistic.

“We looked at everything from Friday and Saturday last night and decided to get back to basics and make damn sure the car goes from A-to-B every run. I know how to drive the car and my confidence in my abilities is high so it’s okay if we’re not the quickest and fastest every weekend. We just need to win races.”

Against Nobile, Enders got the jump by .004 seconds and lead the entire way down the track, winning with a weekend-best 6.683 at 207.11 mph to Nobile’s 6.785 at 205.94 mph. The story started the same against Butner with Enders logging another .004-second advantage at the launch. But Butner had the horsepower to track her down and win with a 6.695 at 206.45 mph to her 6.713 at
206.80 mph.

“The outcome could have been better against Bo but it’s still early in the year and we’re just getting all the new parts and pieces we have working together,” Enders said. “We’ll leave here and go back to the shop in Oklahoma and get some test passes in on both my car and Jeg’s (Coughlin Jr. teammate) car and be better next time.”

Enders will have two weekends off before returning to her hometown race, the 30th annual NHRA Springnationals, which will be held April 21-23 at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas. Enders grew up on the other side of Houston in the Cypress area.

“I’m so excited to be racing at home,” Enders said. “I’ll be fortified with all the delicious food from Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants and I know we’ll have a ton of support from Stan and Sheila Holt and all our other hometown friends. I think we’ll have a good weekend, and that’ll be a perfect time to get our first win of the year.”

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