Posts Tagged Reading

World champ Erica Enders dealing with ‘unhappy’ car as Reading turns to eliminations

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock 2017 Reading

READING, PA – Two-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders only made one decent pass in qualifying for the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals, but the ever-hopeful Texan says she’s confident team owner Richard Freeman has the crew in place to turn their fortunes around during Sunday’s eliminations at Maple Grove Raceway.

“At the end of July when we were racing in Sonoma (Calif.), we didn’t get down the track in any of the four qualifying rounds,” Enders recalled. “On Sunday, we go out in the first round and we were second quickest of the entire session. It just so happens we had Bo (Butner) in the other lane and he was quickest so we lost, but we would have beaten any other car.

“That’s why you race on the track, not on paper. Anything can happen on race day. I have the best guys on the best team in the sport and we will remain positive. I’ve been known to get up on the wheel on occasion so we will see what happens tomorrow. All we can do is remain positive, do our best and let God do the rest.”

Enders opened qualifying for this weekend’s race with a 6.594 at 210.28 mph Friday early afternoon. She then slowed to a 6.638 at 210.47 mph in Round 2 later in the day. But the wheels came off Saturday with back-to-back shutoff runs.

“We came here with a slight renewed sense of hope after our test session in Charlotte,” Enders said. “I drove both mine and Jeg’s cars there. We felt like we were getting somewhere with the set-up and were pretty happy.

“We came here and start off Q1 with a 6.594 and we were qualified No. 4 after session 1. We came back and looked up the data and it was a terrible run so, we thought, ‘this is awesome, we can tune on this and get way better.

“We came back for Q2 and just kinda blew the tire off the car. I got it down the track but it went 6.63. Today we went out there both runs and shook the tires. I was in the right lane, almost hit the wall, this evening I was in the left lane and almost crossed the center line so the car is not happy.”

At the close of qualifying, Enders was slotted ninth, so she’ll surrender lane choice in Round 1 of eliminations to Chris McGaha, who qualified eight with a 6.593 at 210.24 mph.

“Something is bad wrong with the car but I wouldn’t want another group of guys to work on this Camaro than the crew I’ve got,” Enders said. “I’ll sleep good tonight. I have the best guys in the world working hard on making things right so we will continue to keep our chins up and remain positive.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 2-5 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Pro Stock ace Erica Enders focused on flying high in Pennsylvania

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock

READING, PA – As the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ Countdown to the Championship playoffs continue with this weekend’s 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders has her sights set on gaining traction in championship points by taking her bright red Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to another winner’s circle.

Enders, a feisty 33-year-old Houston native, goes into the second round of the Countdown to the Championship sixth in points. Even though she and her Richard Freeman-owned team have been challenged recently with a change in rear tire specs, Enders remains highly confident in her group’s ability to contend for a third title and add to her glowing legacy as the most-acclaimed female driver in the history of the factory hot rod class.

“I’ve done well at Maple Grove, but I’ve never won there so that’s something I would like to knock off of my to-do list,” Enders said. “I’m glad we’re heading back East because that’s big Pro Stock country. The fans absolutely love this class and that’s something that will be refreshing to see after the tumultuous year this class has had. I’m also looking forward to a little break in the weather. It’s been a little hot this summer.”

Although the forecast looks iffy, Reading usually gives racers a break from the heat of summer as fall begins in eastern Pennsylvania. Maple Grove Raceway takes advantage of its locale and cooler temps to give competitors and fans some of the quickest and fastest racing on the planet with record-setting performances the norm at the charming facility. For Enders, it also provides her an opportunity to relish in some family time.

“I’m looking forward to the weekend,” Enders said. “My sister and brother-in-law live 15 minutes from the racetrack and there’s a lot of family and friends up there so we will take all four of these team cars, along with Larry Morgan, our newest engine leasing customer, and see what we can do. We’ll have five of us up there battling it out. I’m very optimistic and looking forward to racing at Maple Grove.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates Jeg Coughlin Jr., Vincent Nobile, and Alex Laughlin as well as the rest of the Pro Stock class have dealt with many changes this year, including a switch to a new spec rear tire. Enders is hoping Reading will help her and her team get a better grip on the change.

“The new tire has been a challenge for us to get a hold of and we are just going to continue to fine tune on our 60-foot times,” Enders said. “That’s where we have struggled. If we can make up the .02 (seconds) and .03 we lack down low, it will translate to .04 or .05 at the top end.

“Horsepower is not a problem in our Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro, it’s just managing the horsepower with the new tire. We will just keep chipping away at it.”

Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:45 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 12:45 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 2:30-3:30 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 2-5 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

World champion Erica Enders beats title contender Butner before fouling out of Reading

Erica Enders | NHRA Dodge Nationals 2016

READING, PA — Back-to-back world champion Erica Enders notched one of her biggest elimination round-wins of the year Sunday, beating title contender Bo Butner wire-to-wire in the opening session of the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.

“To go out there and get this Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart a round-win at the Dodge Nationals was exciting,” Enders said. “The uphill battle this entire season has been for us continues, but with only one run on this racetrack throughout qualifying, we really had a challenge before us today and my guys, as always, rose to the occasion.

“People always hear me bragging on my crew, and today showed exactly why I do it all the time. These guys are the best, and at a point in the season where it would be easy to mail it in, they fought hard, dug down, and gave me a great race car that took out one of the best cars in the category this year.”

Enders herself contributed to the victory, leaving ahead of Butner with a stellar .019-second reaction time. Butner wasn’t far behind after a .029-second launch, but he didn’t have the horsepower to catch the sport’s most prolific female Pro Stock racer, losing to Enders at both ends, 6.644 at 207.34 mph to his 6.647 at 209.43 mph.

“That round-win allowed our teammate, Vincent Nobile, to pass Bo and go into third place, and then Vincent went on to win the whole race, so it was a big day for Elite Motorsports,” Enders said.

Nobile’s triumph at the end of the day came at Enders’ expense as he beat her in the quarterfinals en route to the victory circle. In that race Enders left too early, drawing a -.007 red-light disqualification, which negated her 6.656 at 207.72 mph. Nobile might have been too tough to beat anyway as he posted a stout 6.600 at 209.88 mph.

“That second-round race against Vincent was definitely interesting,” Enders said. “We were in and out of our race cars a couple of times because of all the rain delays. I did a burnout at one point, backed up, and had to shut off and wait again. There were a lot of variables that went into that run.

“It’s one of those shoulda, coulda, woulda deals, but either way I should not have been red. That’s disappointing to me because it ends like a five-year streak of not being red. Having said that, we would not have been able to turn that win light on. He flat out had us covered. I’m just glad it was against my teammate. He’s going to battle for the Mello Yello championship right to the end.”

The Countdown to the Championship resumes after one week off with the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, Oct. 13-16, at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.

“We’ll head home for a week to work on things,” Enders said. “We’ll be ready for Dallas and try to help Vincent some more.”

Erica Enders wanted another chance at Reading track, but settles for mid-pack slot

Erica Enders | Dodge NHRA Nationals 2016

READING, PA — In between what has seemed to be a never-ending smattering of rain at Maple Grove Raceway, there were moments of really good drag racing, and reigning world champion Erica Enders is convinced she could have made a big move if she was given another chance. But in the end, she only got one shot in her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge Dart and had to settle for the No. 9 spot on the qualifying grid.

“Dang it, we wanted another run,” Enders said. “It got really good this afternoon, and if the moisture had just dried up a tiny bit we could have really flown down this track. I think we just reached a point where it cooled off and the dew point and ambient temperatures were almost the same, so conditions just wouldn’t allow the Safety Safari to get the surface dry enough.

“I’ll tell you what, though, tomorrow this place is going to be a mineshaft. Everyone is saying the rain is pretty much over for this area, so if it stays cool and the track has a chance to air out tonight and tomorrow morning, it will be awesome.”

In her one run down the track Enders ran a semi-conservative 6.643-second pass at 208.65 mph, placing her ninth in the Pro Stock field of the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.

“After missing all of yesterday and seeing so much on and off sprinkling today, we wanted to make sure we got down what was a pretty green racetrack safely and with a decent time,” she said. “That’s exactly what we did, and once we saw the data from that run we had a really good game plan for this afternoon if we got to make another pass.

“It has been quite a struggle this year, but we’re getting things together now and we have a decent baseline to work from. Both of our team cars have been inching up the performance scale and we’re closer to where we want to be.”

For her efforts, Enders will open race day against Bo Butner, who posted a pass of 6.604 seconds at 211.00 mph. Surprisingly, the two racers have not faced one another this year.

“Bo’s been strong all year, running with the KB Racing boys, so he’ll be a good test right out of the gate,” Enders said. “We’re all kind of going to play the guessing game to a certain extent tomorrow because there’s definitely been more moisture on the track since we got to run earlier, so it’ll be scraped and dried and probably totally different tomorrow.

“I’ll leave the heavy thinking up to my guys. I just need to concentrate on doing my job in the car and we should have a great chance.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the action live from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

Pro Stock champion Erica Enders hoping for Mopar magic at Dodge NHRA Nationals

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READING, PA — Two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders is hoping for a little Mopar magic during the Dodge NHRA Nationals this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.

Enders posted her best qualifying effort of the season at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver earlier this season, grabbing the No. 2 spot. She hopes for similar success at another Dodge-sponsored race, this time in Pennsylvania.

“At our last Dodge race this year, we had our best qualifying performance,” Enders said. “Hopefully that translates to Reading.”

Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar team haven’t had the season they expected after switching manufacturers for 2016. Enders won 15 races and two championships over the 2014-15 seasons, but a raft of changes have hindered her efforts this season.

Behind Enders and her team all season, however, has been the backing of Dodge.

“We are appreciative of all of the support from Mopar,” Enders said. “They have definitely given us a great team of people and engineers and guys who are passionate about what they do like we are, so it’s refreshing to continue to work with people that go the extra mile.

“It’s a cool partnership, and I believe with the group of people we have, the sky’s the limit. It’s just going to take time to build this program.”

Enders sits 10th in the Countdown to the Championship after two races of the six-race stretch that closes the season.

“We’ll continue to work on it,” Enders said. “We’ll get better. It’s a brand-new engine program. I have the smartest, hardest-working guys in the business, so if anybody can figure it out, it’s them.”

As part of the Dodge sponsorship of the race, the Mopar Mega Block Party will be held at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading on Thursday night.

“We have plans to go to the Mopar Block Party on Thursday, and we’ll enjoy that with all of the diehard Mopar fans,” Enders said. “It’s always a lot cooler in Reading, which is definitely a nice break from racing in the heat of the summer, and the cars run better up there. We look forward to going up there and probably running faster than we have run all season.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 11:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast qualifying action live from 6 to 7 p.m., Friday. Eliminations will air live from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

Near-perfect reaction by Erica Enders not enough in Reading quarterfinals

ee-reading15r

READING, PA — For the first time in two months, reigning Pro Stock champion and current points leader Erica Enders will not reach the final round of an NHRA national event in her Elite Motorsports Camaro. Enders, the wife of fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens, fell in the second round to Bo Butner Sunday at Maple Grove Raceway when her engine expired, squandering a near-perfect .004-second reaction time.

“When it’s not your day, it’s just not your day,” said Enders, who has three wins and a runner-up in the last four races. “There’s nothing you can do about it. This whole weekend has been goofy with all the rain and only getting one qualifying session. Then we switched to a new motor this morning and hurt it against Kenny (Delco, first-round opponent). The guys thrashed to change it out and then we blew that one up big time against Bo.

“No one did anything wrong. My driving was good (.044-second advantage in Round 1 and .025 in Round 2) both rounds and the guys did everything they normally do. We just had some bad breaks.”

Enders entered the weekend a massive 113 points ahead of Greg Anderson, and even if Anderson goes on to win this race, the NHRA Keystone Nationals, she’ll still have a nice cushion atop the rankings.

“That’s a blessing,” Enders said of her lead. “We raced hard to get that lead, beating everyone straight up to earn those points, and we really wanted to add to it here. That obviously isn’t going to happen, but we’ll hold our heads high and move on to the next event and do what we’ve done all year.”

The NHRA tour takes next weekend off before heading to Texas Motorplex near Dallas in Enders’ home state of Texas. That race takes place Oct. 16-18.

“It’s a home race basically for me and for the guys from Elite,” Enders said. “I was born and raised in Houston and the Elite shop is in Oklahoma, so this is like meeting in the middle of where we’re all from. We always have fun in Dallas because being so close to all of our homes we have lots of friends and family come and support us.

“I think we’re all excited to have a weekend off, too. It’s a grind when you’re going hard every weekend, plus the break will give us time to go through the cars front to back and get these engines freshened up.

“We’ll come back stronger than ever and try to sweep the last three races and just put this thing away. It’s a fun time and we’re all enjoying the ride.”

Reigning champ and current points leader Erica Enders staying afloat in Reading

READING, PA — Two days of intermittent rain washed out three of the four scheduled qualifying sessions of the NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, but reigning series champ and current Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports teammates were ready for the lone run they were afforded, qualifying sixth with a safe 6.537-second pass at 213.13 mph.

“It’s always nerve-racking going down a track when the surface temperature is 60 degrees, it’s really cold and damp and the dew point is way up there, but that’s where my guys really show how great they are,” Enders said. “We just went up there and made a very, very conservative run because we really didn’t know at that point if we’d get another session in or if it would start raining again.

“We played it safe and although the car kinda moved around a little bit and the tires were spinning, we got in the top half of the field, which is really what you want. Obviously, the e.t. we posted by no means shows our hand, so I’m really excited for tomorrow.”

Enders has been to four final rounds in a row, winning three races in a row before settling for runner-up against her teammate Drew Skillman last weekend in St. Louis. She entered the weekend 113 points ahead of her closest rival in the points, which equates to almost six rounds of elimination racing. There are only 16 rounds left in the season, so a big race day here could make it very tough on the other contenders.

“It’s been one of those weekends when we just wait and wait and wait,” said Enders, who is married to fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens. “Honestly, it’s more exhausting doing nothing than when you’re busy. They say tomorrow is supposed to look better weather-wise and we’re all excited about that for sure. Once again I’m on the opposite side of the ladder from Drew, so we will just see if we can go to work tomorrow, repeat what happened in St. Louis, and spread the gap on everyone else.”

As the No. 6 qualifier, Enders will open elimination action with lane choice over part-time racer Kenny Delco, who posted a 6.606 at 207.15 mph in his lone trip down Maple Grove.

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m., with ESPN2 carrying all the action Sunday evening.

Growing points lead won’t alter Erica Enders’ strategy in Reading

ee-reading15p

READING, PA — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders has stretched her Pro Stock points lead to 113 after two races into the Countdown to the Championship, but if you think the defending world champion and her team plan to alter their approach at this weekend’s NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, think again.

“We’re not changing one thing,” Enders said. “We’re just going to go on to the third race of the Countdown and race smart and calculated. We’ve got to keep pace, continue our points lead. That’s the mind-set going in. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. One round, one at a time.”

Enders has been on fire lately, racing to four consecutive final rounds and winning three in a row before falling to teammate Drew Skillman in the St. Louis final. She has won seven times in 2015, and one more victory this year would break Angelle Sampey’s mark for single-season wins by a woman.

Enders has been spectacular at the first two races of the six-race Countdown. She has won seven of eight rounds of racing, two of those on holeshots, including the Charlotte final. She left first on Skillman in St. Louis, but her Transportation Impact Camaro immediately shook the tires, and Enders had to settle for a runner-up finish.

Reading should be a fast race, as conditions are usually conducive to record-setting elapsed times. Enders has been fast in 2015, with five No. 1 qualifiers and qualifying in the top four at 16 of the 20 races to date.

“If the weather is conducive, it’s definitely a possibility to see a new record up there,” Enders said. “Elapsed time is the only one that is worth any points, so we’re going to do our best to get it, but we’re not going to change our game plan.”

Enders recorded the third-quickest e.t. in Pro Stock history, 6.464 seconds, in Englishtown last year. Jason Line holds the national record of 6.455 seconds, and his teammate Greg Anderson has been quick lately.

And while Enders and her team will try to lower the e.t. mark, the goal is to go as fast as possible in each round.

“We’ll do our best, and if it’s meant to be, we’ll set the record,” Enders said. “Greg (Anderson) is really fast right now, and those 20 points (for setting the record) are huge. We’ll go after it, but we’re going to continue to do what we’ve been doing.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 11:15 and 2:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are scheduled to begin at noon on Sunday.

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