Posts Tagged Sportsman

Once again, Erica Enders opens eliminations against an Elite Motorsports teammate

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock Norwalk 2017

NORWALK, OH — For the fifth time this season, two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders will face a teammate from her Elite Motorsports camp at the start of eliminations. This time its Vincent Nobile, who she’s opened against twice previously and faced four times overall in 2017 competition.

“It always sucks racing a teammate, especially in the first round,” said Enders, who is 3-1 versus Nobile this year. “Vincent is a great competitor and I know both crews will bring everything they have. First round, for sure, will be a heavyweight battle for all four of our Elite Motorsports cars because we are all racing each other. I guess we should be happy that at least two Elite cars will advance no matter what.”

Although Enders was third in Friday’s provisional field, she dropped to 10th place in Saturday’s heat, giving lane choice away to Nobile. Still, the two are very close in performance with Enders running a best of 6.623 at 208.36 mph and Nobile going 6.616 at 210.01 mph.

“We had a top-three car yesterday but the weather is so different today and we fell back a little bit,” Enders said. “Tomorrow will be different as well and I remain very confident in my team’s ability to take whatever the weather and racetrack throws at us.

“There was a lot more water in the air yesterday, but with today’s better weather being a little hotter it became a much more difficult track. Power management was a little trickier. We just need to get a handle on it and do what we know how to do on race day. We have a lot of experience and data going into Sunday. I know we have what it takes to be a player when it comes to race day regardless of where we’re qualified.”

Saturday was a busy day for Enders as she pulled double duty, racing both her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stocker and the Omaha Track COPO Camaro in the Factory Stock Showdown. Enders already has an elimination-round win in the Showdown, beating No. 2 qualifier Peter Gasko when he fouled out at the start by -.007 seconds. She’ll face No. 8 qualifier Kevin Skinner in Sunday’s semifinals.

“My Omaha Track COPO Camaro is in the semifinals!” an excited Enders said. “This is the first time we’ve been able to get past the first round in the Factory Showdown so we’re pumped up. We made a decent run there but we definitely can tune it up and improve. I think we have a real shot at winning. We raced a guy first round who had us covered by a tenth of a second and found a way to make it happen.”

“I have an opportunity to bring home two Wallys tomorrow, which I have never done before. We are down to four cars so we just need to beat two more guys and we will be in the winner’s circle. Easier said than done, for sure, but we’re going to give it hell.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 programming begins at 6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders holds special memories of Topeka

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TOPEKA, KS — Heartland Park Topeka has a special place in the heart of Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge driver Erica Enders, the two-time Pro Stock champion.

Heartland Park, site of this weekend’s NHRA Kansas Nationals, is where Enders became the first woman to earn a No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock, and it’s also the track where she scored a dominant victory in 2015, nine years after that first No. 1 qualifier.

Enders was in her second full year of Pro Stock in 2006, driving the Slammers car. In the second round of qualifying for the NHRA Summer Nationals, Enders made a pass of 6.785 at 203.06 mph to jump to No. 1. She held on to that spot to become the 52nd driver to earn a Pro Stock No. 1.

“It was a huge milestone for me and my young Pro Stock career,” said Enders, who was 22 at the time. “It was definitely exciting. The fans were crazy. I signed a lot of autographs that weekend and got a lot of congratulations from a lot of people: a lot of emails, a lot of phone calls. It’s definitely a neat memory.”

Enders got to share the memory with her father Gregg, who helped start Enders’ career as an 8-year-old driving a Jr. Dragster in her home state of Texas.

“It was cool to share that moment with my dad,” Enders said. “He’s the reason why I was in that position in the first place.”

Fast-forward to 2015, and Enders is now driving for Elite Motorsports. She had won in Las Vegas and Houston earlier in the year, repeating race victories from her 2014 championship, but her Topeka success had been limited to that No. 1 qualifier in 2006.

“At that point of the season, we had won the same races that we had won the year before,” Enders said. “Every race we went to where we hadn’t won, we were hoping to break that. Topeka was a track that we typically didn’t have much luck or success at, so to win in the fashion that we did was pretty cool.”

Enders was low for all three of the qualifying sessions (the fourth was rained out) and set the Pro Stock track record of 6.515 seconds at 211.43 mph to again win the No. 1 qualifying spot.

On race day, Enders was quickest in all four rounds, beating Greg Anderson in an early-evening final round to win the race.

“We were low for every session, No. 1 qualifier, and we beat Greg in the finals,” Enders said. “It was a rain delay on Sunday, and we finished under the lights. It was pretty cool.”

Rain had delayed the final, and the winner’s circle celebration had to be moved indoors — not that Enders or anyone on her Elite team minded.

“The winner’s circle was in the barn with the scales,” Enders said. “It was different, for sure, but still awesome.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 and 7 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET, Saturday. Elimination action will be broadcast live from 2 to 5 p.m. ET, Sunday.

Enders will also compete in Sportsman racing this weekend, as she returns to the Super Gas ranks behind the wheel of the ORTEQ Energy Technologies roadster for owners Buddy Wood and Cody Ortowski.

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders returns to Sportsman roots this weekend

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BELLE ROSE, LA — Two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders will return to her racing roots this weekend behind the wheel of the ORTEQ Energy Technologies Super Gas car at the NHRA Division 4 race at No Problem Raceway Park.

Before moving to the professional ranks, Enders raced Super Gas and won an NHRA national event in Houston in 2004. She’ll be driving for car owners Buddy Wood and Cody Ortowski this weekend in the first of several Sportsman races she’ll compete in this season.

“Fortunately, this race fell on an off weekend for us, so I’m able to drive,” Enders said. “Buddy Wood and Cody Ortowski have set me up with a great race car, and (crew chief) Cody Wampler will be setting it up for us this weekend, so we’ll definitely have a chance.

“I’m really excited. No Problem is one of the tracks I grew up at because it’s so close to Houston and we raced there a bunch. I can just drive up there from New Orleans, so it feels really comfortable.”

Enders is coming off a semifinal finish in Pro Stock at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, winning her second-round race on a holeshot. She had reaction times of .006, .009, and .021 in Las Vegas, and she’ll need similar lights in the cutthroat Sportsman class.

“I’m sure everyone will bring their A-game to the starting line,” Enders said. “I’ll try my best to hold them off and go some rounds. It’s been 12 years since I’ve raced Super Gas, and like anything else, to be good at something you need to do it a lot, but it’s not like I haven’t been drag racing.

“We’ll get some test runs in (Thursday) and then get after it Friday. Hopefully, it all comes back to me really fast. I’m pretty confident it will.”

Wood and Wampler will race alongside Enders as her teammates this weekend.

“Both Buddy and Cody (Wampler) are racing, so our pit will stay busy,” Enders said. “It’ll be fun. That’s really my biggest goal, to have some fun and get back to my roots. I’m also excited to spend the weekend with Stan and Sheila Mae Holt, my longtime friends from Houston who own Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants. They’ve been with me since I started racing, and it’ll be fun to race with them.”