Posts Tagged Reading

Enders-Stevens Powers into Second Place with Semifinal Showing in Reading

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 5) — A strong semifinal showing at Sunday’s 30th annual NHRA Nationals has thrust superstar racer Erica Enders-Stevens back into the championship picture with two races left in the drag racing season. Enders-Stevens, who led the Mello Yello points for 13 races during the regular season, is now just 35 points behind Jason Line, who exited in the quarterfinals.

“I have such an awesome team,” Enders-Stevens said. “They gave me a great race car all weekend, from qualifying No. 1 to going to the semifinals today. I wanted to give them more — I wanted to get to the finals and win — but to close the gap on Jason to less than two rounds is really exciting.

“It’s going to be a dogfight to the end and we’re ready for it. Having the quickest car here has given us so much confidence. Now we’ve got a couple weeks off to get back to the shop and regroup. The last two races will be incredible.”

After coming within two-thousandths of a second of resetting her own national record in qualifying, Enders-Stevens remained red-hot on race day, beating Frank Gugliotta with a 6.469 at 213.30 mph to Gugliotta’s 6.579 at 209.79 mph. She then downed Vieri Gaines with a 6.484 at 213.60 mph to Gaines’ 6.507 at 212.69 mph.

It wasn’t until the semifinals against good friend and past series champion Allen Johnson that Enders-Stevens was quieted, slowing to a 6.759 at 210.87 mph to Johnson’s 6.499 at 212.69 mph.

“The car just shook the tires really hard down low,” she said. “I pedaled it and got back on the gas as fast as possible, but when you lose all of that early momentum there’s not much you can do. I stayed after it just in case Allen had trouble but I saw him all the way down the track. That round was a bummer but we’re still smiling over here.”

The NHRA tour takes a two-week break before resuming action with the 14th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“We were undefeated in the spring race in Vegas, so we’ll try to keep that streak alive,” Enders-Stevens said. “We won both the K&N Horsepower Challenge and the regular national event, so we have nothing but good thoughts going through our heads.

“It’ll be good to get home, catch up on our rest, and have time to service the car and the motors. Having four races in a row was pretty taxing for everyone. Even so, we’ve put ourselves in an incredible position to challenge for the title. I’ve dreamt of this my whole life and it’s so cool to be living in the moment right now.”

Near-Record Run Puts Enders-Stevens on Top of Reading’s Pro Stock Heap

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 4) — Erica Enders-Stevens came within two thousandths of a second of her own NHRA national record Saturday night, running a lightning-quick 6.465-second, 213.16-mph quarter-mile pass down historic Maple Grove Raceway to earn her fifth low qualifier award of the 2014 season.

The stunning performance comes at a pivotal time for Enders-Stevens as she continues to chase down current points leader Jason Line with just three national events left on the schedule.

“Every point matters in this championship countdown and if we can run just a little bit quicker tomorrow and reset the national record one more time than we’d get 20 bonus points, which would be huge,” said Enders-Stevens, who held the points lead for a class-leading 13 races this year. “No matter what, we gained some ground with all the qualifying bonus points we’ve already picked up so we’re already pretty happy.

“It got cooler overnight and Rick and Rickie (Jones, father/son co-crew chiefs) did an awesome job of reading the conditions and getting after the track in Q4. We missed the record by two thou but it was a pretty big thrill any way. Normally Rickie gets on the radio and tells me what I’ve run after I throw the ‘chutes but this time he was just screaming so I knew we’d made a good pass. I starting screaming myself.”

Enders-Stevens entered this event 67 points, or about three rounds of action, behind Line. Her Elite Motorsports Camaro was the quickest car in three of the four qualifying sessions and second quickest in the other, yielding her 11 bonus points. Line earned just one bonus point during qualifying.

“We’re less than three rounds behind him now and with a national record pending we could be even closer,” Enders-Stevens said. “My team owner (Richard Freeman) reminded me right after the run that we already have the back-up run in place to set a national record so now all we have to do is go out there and do it.

“Of course that’s easier said than done and if we can run the record than a few other cars can as well so we won’t count any points until we have them. The bottom line is we need to go rounds tomorrow and try to win. If we can do that and set the record as well then we could have a big day. I do know that I’m on the best team with the best crew in the sport. I’m a lucky girl and I’m loving every minute of this season.”

Stevens has four victories this year in five final-round showings. She’ll begin her quest for another Wally trophy opposite No. 16 qualifier Frank Gugliotta, who topped out at 6.599 at 208.68 mph. Eliminations begin at noon with action being carried on ESPN2.

No Slowing Down for Enders-Stevens during NHRA Nationals Qualifying

Erica Enders-Stevens | Maple Grove Raceway | Reading, PA

READING, Pa. (Oct. 3) — Slowly cutting into the deficit of the Pro Stock points leader, Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens captured the No. 1 spot late in qualifying Friday for the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

Earning critical bonus points during both rounds of qualifying, Enders-Stevens ended Q1 No. 2 after a solid 6.541-second pass at 211.30 mph. It wasn’t until Q2 that her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro landed in the top spot with low e.t. and top speed of the day, a 6.513 at 211.76 mph.

“All those baby points are definitely helpful at this crucial point in the Countdown,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m really excited and really proud of my team. We had a couple issues in the first round but we also wanted to go out there and be conservative considering there is a chance of weather tomorrow. We didn’t want to be on the outside looking in, so we got in a good baseline run in the first round. We were able to stay No. 2 then, but then we were able to go out there and go after it in the next round.

“I’m really proud of my crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones; they do a great job. All my guys just work so hard, so it’s really nice when a big number comes up on the scoreboard like that. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Looking to bag her fifth No. 1 qualifier of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello season, Enders-Stevens is confident that there is still more Elite Motorsports horsepower under her hood to get the job done Saturday. With weather looming though, there is a chance for a record-setting day at Maple Grove Raceway for the team.

“The Pro Stock Motorcycles are the same as us,” Enders-Stevens said. “When they run well, we run well. We’re naturally aspirated, so our cars like cool, dry air. I think the rain should be out of here by the mid-morning, so we’re expecting some cooler temperatures. If the air dries up the weather will definitely be conducive for some record-setting runs. I talked about it being a crucial time in the Countdown right now, and to reset the e.t. record is an extra 20 bonus points.

“You never really know with the weather; it could be the same as it is today or after the storm it could be really humid and it won’t be conducive at all. We’ll just have to see what the good Lord deals us as far as weather goes and we’ll set up accordingly. I’m really excited, optimistic, and proud of my team.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 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.

Enders-Stevens Continues Championship Charge at Maple Grove

Erica Enders-Stevens helmet

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.

Enders-Stevens’ Husky Liners team takes Pro Stock title battle to Vegas

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 6) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens remains in contention for the Pro Stock championship despite a second-round loss during the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Maple Grove Raceway.

Enders-Stevens is fifth in the Pro Stock standings, 114 points out of the lead with two races remaining in the Countdown to the Championship. The next race is in two weeks in Las Vegas.

“We’ll just go to Vegas with a clean head and do the best we can,” Enders-Stevens said. “The good news is we have a couple weeks off. We’ve been on the road for a month straight, but now we get to go home and regroup. We’ll work on the car and head to Vegas fresh. I’m looking forward to it, and we’ve got to battle back.”

Enders Stevens and the Cagnazzi Racing team have rallied in the six-race Countdown. She won at Gateway Motorsports Park last week and has climbed from ninth to fifth in the points standings. That came after sitting out six of the eight races before the Countdown, but Enders-Stevens’ Chevrolet Camaro clearly has been one of the cars to beat since returning.

On Sunday she took out Buddy Perkinson in the first round on a holeshot before falling to Allen Johnson. Perkinson ran a faster elapsed time, 6.603 seconds at 210.18 mph to Enders-Stevens’ 6.605 at 208.62 mph, but she pulled off a lightning-quick .008-second reaction time to get the victory.

“I knew I had to be up on the wheel against Buddy,” Enders-Stevens said. “I was happy to get those 20 points.”

Johnson, the defending Pro Stock champion, made a run of 6.588 seconds at 209.43 mph in the second round to outrun her pass of 6.595 at 209.59 mph

“It was going to be a day of thousandths all day long,” Enders-Stevens said. “You have to be killer on the (Christmas) Tree and you have to make really good runs. My guys gave me a great car, and we made one of our best runs of the weekend second round.”

Enders-Stevens and her team get a two-week break before the NHRA Toyota Nationals on Oct. 25-27 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Reading victory would be icing on Enders-Stevens’ birthday cake

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 5) – Husky Liners Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens celebrates her 30th birthday on Tuesday, and she’d love to have a Wally trophy from the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway next to her birthday cake.

Enders-Stevens won last weekend’s race at Gateway Motorsports Park, helping celebrate the birthdays of husband Richie Stevens and father Gregg Enders. She’d like a Maple Grove trophy for herself and her Cagnazzi Racing team.

“I got Richie and my dad a Wally for their birthdays,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’d like to get one for myself.”

Enders-Stevens qualified No. 7 with a best pass of 6.587 seconds at 209.98 mph, and her Husky Liners Camaro has been consistent.

Her runs were all within .034-second of each other, and she was in the top five in three of the four qualifying sessions.

Enders-Stevens could use a deep run at Maple Grove to continue her march up the Pro Stock points standings. She started the Countdown to the Championship in ninth place but her victory last weekend vaulted her to ninth.

Maple Grove marks the fourth event of the six-race Countdown, and she entered race weekend 60 points out of the lead.

“Tomorrow’s really important,” Enders-Stevens said. “There was some shuffling going on in that (final) round (of qualifying), and it changed the ladder a bit. We’ve definitely got our work cut out for us, but we’ve got a consistent race car and I’m driving well. I’ll put my faith on the big man upstairs and see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens faces No. 10 qualifier Buddy Perkinson in round one Sunday. Perkinson garnered that spot with a pass of 6.591 seconds at 210.21 mph.

A fun twist to Enders-Stevens’ weekend was lining up against her husband Richie Stevens in Q3. Husband and wife had never faced each other in Pro Stock, and Enders-Stevens got the better of her husband on the Christmas Tree.

Enders-Stevens left with a .005-second reaction time to his .074 light, and they ran identical elapsed times, 6.587. Stevens’ speed was better, giving him the higher qualifying spot, but Enders-Stevens was bragging about the win light.

“That was pretty cool,” Enders-Stevens said. “Apparently no husband and wife had ever run each other in Pro Stock, so that was a lot of fun. Our crews both had some side bets going. He outran us because of mile an hour, so he got ahead of us on the qualifying sheet, but I cracked him on the starting line and we got the win light. I guess that’s all that matters, but it was fun and I’m glad he’s out here running.”

Eliminations at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals get under way at 11 a.m. EDT on Sunday from Maple Grove Raceway. ESPN2 will broadcast the racing on Sunday night starting at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

Enders-Stevens confident her team can contend for Pro Stock title

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READING, Pa. (Oct. 3) – After winning at Gateway Motorsports Park last weekend, Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens said the Pro Stock field would have to take the championship away from her and her Cagnazzi Racing team.

Enders-Stevens moved up to fourth in the Countdown to the Championship standings with the victory – her second of the season – as she clearly has the title in her sights heading into the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.

“That’s the attitude we need to have,” Enders-Stevens said. “If we don’t have that attitude, then we shouldn’t be out there. You have to believe in what you’re doing.”

Enders-Stevens has blossomed in the six-race Countdown, rising from ninth place in the points with a victory, a semifinal appearance, and a No. 1 qualifier in the first three races.

She is 60 points out of first place, a deficit that can be made up in one race because 20 points are awarded for each round victory. But there are also qualifying points given for the three quickest drivers in each of four qualifying sessions, making every pass vital.

“Every round is important, but qualifying is also important,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were able to gain five baby points from qualifying last weekend, and all of those little points add up. It’s not just round by round.”

Enders-Stevens knows continuing to move forward in the points standings won’t be easy, given the stiff competition in the Pro Stock class.

“Reading is going to be tough,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are 10 great cars out here in Pro Stock week in and week out, and you just fight for those few top spots.”

Maple Grove is one of the fastest tracks on the NHRA tour, even with warmer-than-usual weather predicted for this weekend.

“The lanes are pretty even in Reading, so lane choice isn’t an issue,” Enders-Stevens said. “It should be interesting. Weather looks great as far as temperatures go. It’s going to be really fast.”

Qualifying for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals gets under way at 1:15 p.m. EDT from Maple Grove Raceway and resumes at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday. Eliminations start at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN News will air the qualifying show at 11:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday and ESPN2 will broadcast the eliminations show at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

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