Posts Tagged Race Recap

After Dallas, Enders-Stevens’ Championship Race is Heating Up

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DALLAS (Sept. 21) — While the extreme temperatures weren’t kind to Texas native Erica Enders-Stevens Sunday, her Mach 1 Global Services Pro Stock Camaro continued to heat up the lanes in eliminations despite her early exit from the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

Even though her first-round match had Elite Motorsports power facing off, Enders-Stevens powered her Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet past Rodger Brogdon’s Camaro with a 6.574-second pass at 210.44 mph.

However, Enders-Stevens was in a race of mere inches during the second round between her and Jonathan Gray. With reaction times within thousandths, Enders-Stevens’ .030 to Gray’s .023, her red Camaro was just edged out at the finish line despite making the second-quickest pass of the round at 6.599 seconds.

“It certainly wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for,” Enders-Stevens said. “Coming into the second race of the Countdown, we really needed to go some rounds to make up for our second-round Charlotte loss that was run in Dallas. It is what it is.

“I could not be more proud of my team though. Rick and Rickie Jones, my crew chiefs, gave it their all today. They always give it their all but they really dug deep. On a tricky racetrack without lane choice, we went out there and were the second-quickest car. It would have won any other round but the round we just raced.

“I’m proud of them and their hard work, determination, and perseverance. If this team has anything, they have heart, myself included.”

While she would have loved to snag the Wally in her home state, Enders-Stevens is still within distance of regaining her spot on top of the Pro Stock points standings. As the defending winner two years in a row in St. Louis, the next stop in the Countdown to the Championship, she is in the best position possible to make that points jump happen.

“We’re going to go to St. Louis with our chins up and do our best there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll see what happens. We’ve got to race hard. There are four races left, a lot of racing left. With just a 10-point spread between each driver, anything can happen.

“We’ll go to St. Louis, do our best, and let God do the rest. I could not be more proud or optimistic.”

Enders-Stevens will look forward to her return to Gateway Motorsports Park, Sept. 26-28, where she can retain her title of defending race winner.

Charlotte No. 1 Qualifier Enders-Stevens will Continue Title Pursuit in Dallas

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CHARLOTTE (Sept. 14) — The Pep Boys NHRA Carolinas Nationals was postponed Sunday because of rain and deteriorating track conditions at zMax Dragway. The race will be completed during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals next weekend at Texas Motorplex.

No. 1 qualifier Erica Enders-Stevens and her Mach 1 Chevrolet will face No. 16 John Gaydosh when the Charlotte race is resumed.

Top Fuel and Funny Car classes completed their first round of eliminations Sunday, but racing was halted during round one of Pro Stock after driver Vieri Gaines crashed. Pro Stock teams returned to their pit area, and Pro Stock Motorcycle teams followed suit.

Rain later began to fall, and NHRA officials announced that racing was done for the day. The decision was later made to complete the event in Dallas. The updated Dallas schedule will be released at a later date.

Enders-Stevens is the No. 2 Seed for Countdown after U.S. Nationals

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INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1) — A Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory may have slipped through Engines Inc. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens’ fingers, but she still leaves Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on Monday very proud.

Enders-Stevens dropped a second-round match to Dave Connolly, but she will be the No. 2 seed when the Countdown to the Championship begins in two weeks at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, NC.

“Even though we didn’t win the U.S. Nationals, and that was our goal, we can leave here with our heads held high,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got a good car and the best team in the sport. It would’ve been nice to win here, but it starts to matter at the next event.”

Enders-Stevens has had a dream season, winning four national events and the K&N Horsepower Challenge. She led the points standings for 13 races before slipping to second in Brainerd, MN.

“I think we’re going to go in the No. 2 spot,” Enders-Stevens said. “Obviously our goal is to go in as the No. 1 seed, but it’s not detrimental to what the outcome’s going to be.”

Enders-Stevens started her 2014 U.S. Nationals with a race against her husband Richie Stevens, who joined Elite Motorsports for this race and beyond. She got the jump on Stevens with a .022-second reaction time and led the entire race, winning with a pass of 6.619 seconds at 208.52 mph. Stevens’ pass was 6.643 seconds at 208.52 mph.

“That’s my job,” Enders-Stevens said. “I have to put aside who’s in the other lane and just execute. That’s what we did first round and we did it second round, too, but it just didn’t end up being our day. We didn’t have lane choice and we struggled over there.

“I hate that Richie lost. I’m glad that we won but it’s bittersweet. I’m stoked that we picked up 20 points, but at the same time I hate that Richie’s debut wasn’t what any of us at Elite Motorsports had planned for it to be. But our job is to win rounds, despite who’s over there.”

In the second round, Enders-Stevens made a pass of 6.622 seconds at 208.88 mph but couldn’t get around Connolly, whose run was 6.613 seconds at 207.82 mph.

Enders-Stevens and her team made improvements throughout the weekend, giving her confidence for Charlotte and the Countdown.

“I’m really proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have so much heart. It would have been easy to get frustrated, get negative, and give up when things weren’t going as we had planned them to go when we got here.

“We spent a few days testing in St. Louis to get our cars — mine and Richie’s and Shane (Tucker’s) — sorted out. It didn’t go as planned when we stepped foot on the property here, but they dug deep and we ended up being second-quickest of the runs in eliminations. Even the round we lost, we were the quickest in that lane by a couple of hundredths, so that says a lot about my crew chiefs and my entire team.”

Perfect Light the Only Thing that Goes Right for Enders-Stevens in Brainerd

Erica Enders-Stevens transmission issues cut Brainerd eliminations short

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 17) — Elite Motorsports pro Erica Enders-Stevens was certainly ready for her first-round race against Dave River, recording a perfect reaction time of .000-second to jump off the starting line in what appeared to be another victorious quarter-mile run. But just a few hundred feet later Enders-Stevens’ Camaro fell silent, and for the first time all year she was handed a first-round loss.

“We changed everything there was to change on the race car because of this big swing in the weather, and this time something got us,” Enders-Stevens said, referring to an overnight 30-degree drop in ambient temperatures. “I mean we can go down the Ho Chi Minh trail with this car. We go A to B every time, so it’s a little mind-boggling when it doesn’t happen.

“We came back to the trailer, analyzed the data, and immediately found what went wrong. Suffice it to say all of those parts are going in the trash, and now we’ll just reload and put this day behind us. We’ll get to the shop for a few days and then head right back out to test. We want to make absolutely certain this never happens again.”

With the loss, Enders-Stevens is in jeopardy of losing the points lead she has held for the last 13 races, a span of five months. Close friend Allen Johnson entered this event 32 points behind Enders-Stevens and advanced to the second round before yet another rain delay halted the action.

“It won’t be a great feeling if we lose the points lead,” Enders-Stevens said. “It was a really cool moment personally to go up on stage at driver intros and put my name up there in the No. 1 spot on the Countdown leaderboard. No woman has ever done that in the playoff era of drag racing and we really want to be the first. I guess we’ll have to see what happens with Allen.”

The Elite Motorsports team next competes Aug. 29-Sept. 1 at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

“Hopefully, we get to Indy and get back to doing what we’ve done all year, which is consistently getting down the racetrack and turning on win lights,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’ve got all the faith in the world in my guys and I know that we’re the best team out here. I’ve said that after every race this year, and it’s never more true than right now. I’m a lucky girl.

“We plan to test a bunch before Indy in St. Louis. We’ll run my car and (husband) Richie’s car until the guys are 100 percent ready for Indy. Having twice the data will only help our cause that much more.”

Points Leader Enders-Stevens Drops Second-Round Race by .0003-Second

Erica Enders-Stevens 2014 Mile High Nationals

DENVER, CO — Moments after announcing she would be skipping the next two NHRA national events, Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens fell in the quarterfinal round of eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals by the infinitesimally small margin of three-ten-thousandths of a second, or less than one inch.

Racing her former crew chief Dave Connolly, whom she beat two weeks ago in the final round of the Norwalk, Ohio, event, Enders-Stevens posted a quicker elapsed time of 6.962 seconds during a 198.06-mph pass against Connolly’s 6.992 at 196.70 mph. The difference came at the starting line when Connolly reacted with a cosmic .007-second to Enders-Stevens’ .037-second launch.

“I’m pretty sure that was the closest race of my professional career,” Enders-Stevens said. “A couple more coats of paint on my Elite Motorsports Camaro and we might have had that one. Holeshot losses hurt the most because it’s all on the driver. My guys worked hard in very challenging conditions and gave me a great car. I just needed to be a thousandth of a second better behind the wheel. That’s drag racing.”

Enders-Stevens can take solace in the fact she became the first driver in any pro category to lock up a spot in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs that determines the titlists in each class.

“We’ve had a dream season so far, no doubt,” said Enders-Stevens, a Houston native who now resides in New Orleans. “We’ve got four wins, we’ve been No. 1 qualifier a few times, we have the biggest points lead in any pro class … it’s just been awesome from the start.

“Our first goal was to earn a spot in the Countdown and give ourselves a chance to contend for the championship. Now we’ve done that and at the same time we’ve earned ourselves a reputation as one of the top cars in the sport. We are on such a high and all the credit goes to this group of guys. Everyone at the shop and everyone that comes on the road is so focused.”

By skipping races in Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle, Enders-Stevens said her team will be better prepared for the final two regular-season races before the Countdown and the six-race sprint to the finish.

“We’ve done the math and we’re actually pretty optimistic we’ll stay No. 1 in the points,” Enders-Stevens said. “Either that or we’ll be in position to get it back in Brainerd (Minn.) or Indy before the Countdown starts. We don’t have a title sponsor, so there are no firm commitments to run every race. The sponsors we do have are totally OK with us going home and getting all of our motors in perfect condition for the Countdown. It’s time to focus on the top goal: winning the Mello Yello championship.

“The only thing I’m bummed about is not visiting with all our friends and fans in California and Washington, but hopefully people understand our game plan and cheer us through the Countdown.”

Enders-Stevens Caps Dominant Weekend with Norwalk Victory

Enders-Stevens and her Elite Motorsports team in the winner's circle at Norwalk

NORWALK, OH — The impressive numbers keep piling up for Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens after winning the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park.

Enders-Stevens’ victory:

  • Was her fourth of the season, which leads the class
  • Was the 10th of her career, joining Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey as the lone women with double-digit pro national-event wins
  • Was the 199th for Chevrolet in Pro Stock
  • Capped off a perfect weekend for her and her team, as she was quickest in all eight rounds, covering qualifying and eliminations
  • Pushed her points lead to 241, the biggest in any of the four pro classes.

But perhaps her proudest number was .015, as in her reaction time in seconds in the final round against Dave Connolly. That allowed her to get a quick lead, and her pass of 6.632 seconds at 210.14 was more than enough to send her to victory lane.

“I’m proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They put a great race car under me. You have to leave the emotion out of it, regardless of how I feel, regardless of how he feels. When I go up there, it’s all about my team, my car, our lane, me, and that tree. I’ve got to get my job done and not think about any of the negative things. We were able to do that today, and a big reason is because we have a really fast, consistent race car.”

Enders-Stevens also exorcised some personal demons that have plagued her over the last few races. Every NHRA driver has lost on holeshots in their career, but Enders-Stevens was determined to not let that happen this weekend, especially after grabbing the No. 1 qualifier.

Erica Enders-Stevens wins in Norwalk

The pole winner hasn’t won in Pro Stock since the U.S. Nationals last year, but Enders-Stevens and her team wanted that streak to end in Norwalk.

“When we got it I was like, ‘All right, it’s our job to bust it.'” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m just glad we could get it done, and that’s a big part of this game: Having a positive mental attitude and focusing on the things you want and not dwelling on the negative things or the distractions on the outside.”

And she joined Sampey (41 victories) and Muldowney (18) as the only females with double-digit wins.

“It’s crazy to have my name on a list like that,” Enders-Stevens said. “Shirley’s a legend and has been a mentor to me. Angelle’s been great, too. She’s a friend of mine and lives 20 minutes from our house in New Orleans.

“They’re two extremely talented ladies who are passionate about our sport. They were able to break down the barriers so girls of this generation can do what we do. I’m appreciative of them for that. To have our name on a list with those two names is pretty significant and means a lot to me.”

Enders-Stevens missed on getting the 100th victory by a female in NHRA, but she’d love to give Chevrolet its 200th win in Pro Stock.

“That would be very cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “The 100th win for females is very significant and we were 99 and 101, so we missed it by a little, but 200 for Chevy would be very cool. We certainly have the hot rod to do it, and I’m driving better.

“We’re not focusing on the big picture. Let’s just focus on the task at hand, and that’s one day, one round at a time. We were able to execute that way.”

Enders-Stevens Remains in Full Control of Pro Stock Class

Erica Enders-Stevens Route 66 Raceway Chicago 2014

CHICAGO — Proving how tough the competition is this year in NHRA’s Pro Stock class, runaway points leader Erica Enders-Stevens left the door open for the chase pack to close the massive gap she has opened in the championship standings. But even after a rare quarterfinal loss, Enders-Stevens didn’t lose any ground with her closest rivals also bowing out earlier than expected.

“It just shows you how tough it is out here,” said Enders-Stevens, who enjoys a nine-round lead in the rankings. “Everyone is pushing you every single race. We’re all running on the ragged edge, and when you’re hanging it all out there sometimes it doesn’t go your way.

“It’s fortunate that we didn’t lose any ground in the points, but at the same time the racer inside of me is upset that we didn’t use this opportunity to pad our lead even more. That’s just how we’re all wired. We don’t want to show any mercy.”

After qualifying a lofty second with a 6.594 at 209.65 mph — one of only two runs in the 6.5-second range — Enders-Stevens was able to dispatch Dave River in Sunday’s opening round with a 6.658 at 209.36 mph to River’s aborted 14.169 at 49.29 mph.

“We definitely wanted more out of that run,” Enders-Stevens said. “The humidity really crept up on everyone today and we saw some odd things happening up there. Fortunately, Dave had some issues in his lane and we got the win. The problem was we lost lane choice for the second round and maybe that got in my head a little.”

Against part-time Aussie racer Shane Tucker, Enders-Stevens actually managed to squeeze a little more from her Elite Motorsports Camaro, posting a quicker 6.647 at 208.59 mph against Tucker’s slower but winning 6.658 at 208.71 mph. The difference was the duo’s reaction times, with Tucker leaving .014-second ahead of his good friend Enders-Stevens.

“Getting beat on a holeshot is the worst feeling for a driver because you know the guys gave you a car capable of winning and the driver just didn’t do her job properly,” said Enders-Stevens, a three-time winner this year who has now led the points for nine races. “Everyone told me they didn’t want to hear a word about it because we win as a team and we lose as a team but I feel bad.

“I love these guys and I love my team owner, Richard Freeman, for everything he’s done. All I want to do is make them proud of me, and the fact they were so supportive today shows you how awesome they are. We’ll be fine. The best thing to do when something like this happens is to get on to the next race as fast as possible and fortunately we race next weekend, so we’ll get ready for that and move on.”

Enders-Stevens will be back on track Friday for the first two rounds of qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports Persevere at New England Nationals

Erica Enders-Stevens at New England Dragway

EPPING, NH — Last week’s winner and current Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens came up just short of bringing home her fourth win of the season at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.

Enders-Stevens put the pedal of her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro down when she ran a 6.518 at 212.73 mph against Larry Morgan to move on to the second round of final eliminations.

But round two was a dead heat between Enders-Stevens and Greg Anderson that ended with both recording 6.551 passes. However, Anderson’s .034 reaction compared to Enders-Stevens’ .046 ended her day earlier than expected.

“We went out and made a nice, clean run in the first round,” Enders-Stevens said. “Thankfully because of that first run we got lane choice for the second round. But when we got back to the pits we found out that we had hurt the motor. We had to thrash to take it out and get back up there in time for the second round. We made it in time but just didn’t get it done against Anderson. It just wasn’t our day to bring home the win but that won’t get us down.”

Even though Enders-Stevens was hoping to score back-to-back wins this weekend, she is still optimistic about how her Elite Motorsports team is working.

“All of the guys did a phenomenal job to turn the car around that fast,” Enders-Stevens said, “and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they put in to give me a great car. That’s not a situation anyone wants to be in during final eliminations but my guys worked their butts off. I do think, though, that if we hadn’t have changed motors before the second round we would have had Anderson beat at the line.”

Enders-Stevens will now turn her focus to prepare for her next race at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, June 26-29, at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago.

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