Posts Tagged Sonoma

Success in Sonoma on the mind of reigning world champion Erica Enders


SONOMA, CA — Two against one may not be fair, but reigning Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders’ season-long battle with rival teammates Greg Anderson and Jason Line hasn’t phased the popular professional from Texas. If anything, the two-pronged attack against her has only served to motivate the sport’s top female Pro Stock racer, who has been ranked first or second in the points for the last four months.

“With the exception of two races early in the year, either Greg, Jason, or I have been in the No. 1 spot and we’ve swapped it around nine times already in 14 races, so it’s been another super tough year in Pro Stock,” said Enders, who lives in New Orleans with her husband, fellow Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens. “It’s a huge challenge every week but that’s why we race. It’s stressful but fun at the same time.

“We knew coming into this year with the No. 1 on the side of our Elite Motorsports Chevrolet that we were going to be the hunted, and that’s proven to be true. Everyone takes their best shot against us, and we’ve had to raise our level to keep up the fight.”

Enders enters this weekend’s 28th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals just 37 points, or roughly the equivalent of two elimination rounds, behind Anderson. Line is a distant but always dangerous third, 176 points in arrears of Enders. To date, Enders has a 4-2 record in head-to-head matchups with Anderson and is 1-0 against Line.

Although Sonoma Raceway isn’t one of the places where Enders has hoisted a Wally trophy, she still ranks the track as one of her favorites and is excited to get back to wine country and regain the top ranking in her class.

“Sonoma is definitely in the top three on my favorite’s list,” Enders said. “I’m excited to be able to go back, especially with a really fast, consistent hot rod.

“It would be really awesome to get it done in Sonoma. It’s wine country and along with the Wally you get a giant bottle of wine from the track if you win. I’m fortunate to have a bunch of winos on my team, so we’d love that.

“My team owner, Richard Freeman, has never been there and has never raced there, so it’s new territory for him. A couple of my crew guys have never been out there, either, so it’ll be a fun, exciting weekend.

“We’ve definitely got a lot of confidence, even though we’re not coming off a win in Denver. We’ve got momentum and confidence heading into Sonoma, and that sits well with me.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:15 and 6:45 p.m., Friday, and 1:10 and 4:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon Sunday. ESPN2 will carry both qualifying and elimination action.

Pro Stock Points Leader Enders-Stevens to Skip Sonoma, Seattle Races

Erica Enders-Stevens wins in Bristol

DENVER, CO — Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens will skip the NHRA national events in Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle in order to better prepare for the rapidly-approaching Countdown to the Championship, Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman announced Sunday at Bandimere Speedway. Enders-Stevens has led the points since March, making her the most prolific racer in the pro classes this season.

“This has been the game plan for us from the start,” Freeman said. “The fact we’ve had such a great year and Erica has been driving so well is bringing more attention to this move but we never intended to run the entire schedule. We don’t have a major sponsor, so there are no commitments to fulfill. The rest of our supporters are totally onboard.

“We’ve got some things we want to work on to prepare for the last few regular-season races and especially the Countdown. I really believe we’ll still be in the points lead, even skipping Sonoma and Seattle, or we’ll be close enough to get that No. 1 ranking back in the two races before the Countdown starts.”

Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock class with four victories this season, also winning the non-points K&N Horsepower Challenge in Las Vegas. She has collected at least one round-win at every race and has led the points standings after 10 of 14 races. Her 241-point lead at the start of this weekend’s race is the largest in any professional class.

The Houston native’s victory on July 6 in Norwalk, Ohio, was the 10th of her career, making her only the third female to post double-digit national event victories in NHRA history (along with three-time series champions Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney). She is far and away the most successful woman in Pro Stock class history with 10 career victories, eight No. 1 qualifiers, and 143 elimination round-wins. She is the only female to have won or been top qualifier in Pro Stock.

“We’ve got lots of goals left to accomplish, not the least of which is winning the Mello Yello Pro Stock championship,” Enders-Stevens said. “The guys will have this Camaro ready to win Brainerd and Indy and all six races in the Countdown. I don’t believe this will affect our plan of attack at all. It’s a team decision and obviously every decision Richard has made this year has worked out perfectly, so we’ll go home and prepare for Brainerd.”

This is the first time in NHRA’s playoff era that a class points leader has willingly skipped races.

The next race for the Elite Motorsports team will take place Aug. 14-17 with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.

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