Posts Tagged St. Louis

For second race in a row, points leader Bo Butner sends Erica Enders home

Erica Enders | 2017 NHRA St. Louis Pro Stock

ST. LOUIS, MO — They may be good friends off the track, but two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders is getting tired of meeting up with current points leader Bo Butner on race day.

For the second playoff race in a row, Butner eliminated Enders in the quarterfinal round of competition. This time it was at the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.

“We encountered an all-too-familiar issue against Bo — tire shake,” Enders said. “I did my best to drive through it but got it a little out there on the edge. I guess the positive out of it is I still have a racecar that’s not waded up.”

The race against Butner started equally but Enders’ Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro soon got wildly out of shape, forcing her to push in the clutch and surrender the run. Butner stayed under power and crossed with a 6.561 at 211.66 mph, well ahead of Enders’ 8.408 at 117.33 mph.

Earlier in the day, Enders sharply dismissed Allen Johnson with a wire-to-wire job that started with a .016-second head-start and ended with Enders posting a quicker 6.566 at 211.46 mph to Johnson’s 6.571 at 210.24 mph.

“Everything we do, we do together,” Enders said. “It’s not me driving or the guys tuning, it’s just one big team. They like to joke and say we win as a team and lose as a driver but that’s just to be funny. It really is a group effort.

“I have the best guys. I have won races on holeshots and I’ve won races because I had the faster car. They give me the best they can every time and I can assure you that every time I get in the seat I try to give them the best I have. At the end of the day we are all human and these cars are just very temperamental. They have a mind of their own and unfortunately today mine was in a bad mood.

“My teammate Lump (Brian Self) went to the semifinals, which was cool. He took out some tough competitors and it was a fun day for him. This was his first semifinal in NHRA competition so that was cool. Now we will all get to work on these cars and try to get them ready for Dallas.”

Enders next heads back to her home state of Texas for the 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, Oct. 13-15, at the Texas Motorplex south of Dallas.

Upset-minded two-time World Champ Erica Enders ready to wreak havoc

Erica Enders | NHRA 2017 St. Louis Gateway Motorsports Park

ST. LOUIS, MO — Currently sixth in the Championship to the Countdown playoff standings, two-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders knows a third career victory at Gateway Motorsports Park would propel her up the rankings at the midway point of this year’s title chase. She also knows knocking off a few of the drivers ahead of her would throw a huge wrench in the fight for the sport’s top prize.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Enders said. “With just four Sundays left in the Countdown, we’ve got a lot of work to do to see if we can move up in the points. Part of that is knocking off the drivers ahead of us in the points so I say line ’em up and let’s go. We’ve worked our way to the top of the mountain twice before so we know what it takes. The plan is to keep chasing it until it’s over.”

Slotted seventh in the elimination field of the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals after a best pass of 6.550 at 210.83 mph, Enders will begin her quest for glory against good friend Allen Johnson, who qualified 10th with a 6.560 at 209.65 mph. Enders and Johnson have not squared off against one another this year.

“Today was fair at best,” Enders said. “That last run was a step in the right direction. The first session of the day, all of our team cars blew the tires off so we basically came back here and changed everything. We turned right around and every single one of us went right down the runway so that is definitely a step in the right direction.

“We get to go to bed tonight knowing that at least our race cars go down the track. That’s always a comforting feeling because you know you have a chance.”

Enders won her 22nd career race earlier this year in Epping, N.H., proving her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is capable of going the distance. She also is a two-time winner at this facility, having won consecutive Pro Stock trophies here in 2012 and 2013.

“It’s been a struggle for about 10 races now, really ever since we won that race up there in Epping,” Enders said. “We continue to work on it. We’ve made about 125 test runs since Indy just trying to figure it out so it’s not for a lack of effort or check writing for that matter.

“I’ve got the best guys in the business in my opinion and I wouldn’t go to battle with anyone else. Like I said, it’s easier to go to bed Saturday night knowing you’ve got a good run under your belt instead of not knowing what the heck is going on. It definitely improves morale and gives us a little confidence going into tomorrow. It’s going to be tough out there tomorrow racing on a nice, warm track.”

Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday, and will air live from 1-4 p.m., Sunday, on FOX Sports 1. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Back-to-back champ Erica Enders, a back-to-back winner in St. Louis, wants more

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock 2017

ST. LOUIS, MO — Gateway Motorsports Park has always been a favorite track for two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, dating back to her adolescence when she raced a Junior Dragster at the facility. Her warm feelings for the track have only strengthened since she’s turned pro, one of many reasons she’s excited to return for this weekend’s sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals.

“We’re feeling like we’re on a bit of an uptick after posting two good runs Sunday in Reading (Pa.) and then you add in the fact we’re going to St. Louis, one of my all-time favorite tracks, and I can sense a little excitement in the pit,” Enders said. “We’re being realistic about where we are and what we need to do, and we’re still fighting hard.

“We’ve had a great string of successes at Gateway. We won there in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013. Then we earned the pole in 2014. We went back to the finals in 2015 and finished as runner-up, so yeah, it’s a great track for us.”

The most prolific female racer in Pro Stock history and the third most decorated female in NHRA history, Enders points to St. Louis as the place where her professional career officially began.

“Back in 2004 at St. Louis we announced that I would be racing Pro Stock,” Enders said. “It was a moment I’ll never forget. Finally getting to that point in my career was so huge. To go from a kid in the garage with my dad handing him wrenches to racing Juniors, to running a bunch of different sportsman cars, and then finally turning pro, it was a dream come true.

“It’s never been easy and we had plenty of struggles along the way but we persevered and reached the top of the sport in 2014 and 2015. Now our focus is on getting back to the top of the mountain and we won’t give up until we do.”

Through two of six Countdown to the Championship playoff races, Enders remains in sixth place in the Mello Yello world rankings. She knows going rounds in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro every weekend from here on out is tantamount to her ultimate success.

“We have tested and tested these cars and we keep finding little things that make us better,” Enders said. “The tire change really threw us a curve but we can’t complain because everyone is dealing with the same components. I say it all the time and I’ve never meant it more, but there is no other team, no other group of people I would rather be with in this journey. Hopefully I can reward my guys with a trophy or two before we’re done this year.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:45 and 6:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 5-6 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)

Erica Enders exits in first round of St. Louis national event

Erica Enders | NHRA Midwest Nationals 2016

ST. LOUIS, MO — Erica Enders raced to the Pro Stock final at Gateway Motorsports Park as part of her run to the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship.

There likely will be no such similar run this season after Enders was knocked out in the first round of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. In her first season running the Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge, Enders has struggled to maintain her stellar performance from 2014-15, when she swept to back-to-back titles.

“We are absolutely doing the best that we can with what we have,” Enders said. “It’s unfortunate that we are this far behind, but it’s just part of it. Our goal at this point is to finish the season with class and put a game plan together moving forward. We will get all of our ducks in a row and continue to work hard and things will swing back our way.”

Enders ripped off a .011-second reaction time in her first-round match with Jason Line, but the Pro Stock points leader was good, too, with a .009 light. Line then powered to the win light with a pass of 6.609 seconds at 209.43 mph while Enders made a run of 6.699 seconds at 206.35 mph.

Enders is 10th in the Pro Stock points standings, two races into the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Enders did enjoy the support of her fans in St. Louis, where she won in 2012 and 2013. As her team broke down their pit area at Gateway, Enders signed numerous autographs and spent time with fans, including a young Jr. Dragster driver who gave Enders her hero card.

“The fans are always great,” Enders said. “They continue to stand behind us through the adversity that we are facing and offer up words of encouragement, which is definitely good to hear from time to time.

“We’ll get back to where we belong. It’s just not in the cards for this season.”

Pro Stock champion Erica Enders rebounds to qualify No. 11 in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, MO — There’s no quit in Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team.

Despite missing the race in Charlotte last week, the two-time Pro Stock champions battled back to qualify No. 11 for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

“They are amazing,” Enders said. “They work really hard. It’s frustrating and disheartening to see how hard they work and not have it translate to the scoreboard. At this point, this year is a letdown and we will just focus on getting our ducks in a row for 2017.

“It’s unfortunate to follow up back-to-back championships with the performance we have had this year, but you know, it goes in cycles and that’s part of it. This sport will humble you in a heartbeat, and I’ve learned that the hard way many times, but having said all of that, I’ve been through a lot worse than this, so we’ll be fine.”

Enders’ best lap this weekend was 6.663 seconds at 207.08 mph, and she made four decent
passes in qualifying here after a myriad of issues forced a DNQ in Charlotte last weekend.

“The struggle continues with our Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart, but all we can do is continue to pick away at it and work on it,” Enders said. “Hopefully we’ll turn a corner at some point, but until that happens, the results are the results.”

Enders will face No. 6 qualifier Jason Line in the first round Sunday. Line’s best run of the weekend was 6.611 seconds at 209.43 mph.

Enders is a two-time St. Louis winner who enjoys spending time with the Gateway fans.

“I always enjoy racing in St. Louis,” Enders said. “I have a lot of great memories here from the time I was racing Super Comp and Super Gas, so it’s definitely fun to come back here.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday, and will air live from 1 to 4 p.m. on FOX Sports 1. (All times listed in CT).

‘No quit in this pit’ is battle cry for defending two-time world champ Erica Enders

Erica Enders | NHRA Pro Stock | Mopar

ST. LOUIS, MO — A season ago, Pro Stock superstar Erica Enders was putting a stranglehold on her second straight Mello Yello world championship with a runner-up finish at the annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, which takes place again this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park. It was her fourth consecutive final-round showing and ninth of 11 she would amass during the year.

This year it’s a different story. Enders once again is part of the Countdown to the Championship, but this time she’s 10th in the 10-car field and coming off her first DNQ in six years.

“Same engine builders, same crew, same owner, just different results,” Enders said. “It’s been frustrating but at the same time we’ve learned a lot about ourselves as a group. The last few years we always said, ‘Teamwork makes the dream work,’ and it was so appropriate for the way things were going at the time.

“This year, as it’s gone along and we haven’t found the success we were expecting, our little saying has turned into, ‘No quit in this pit,’ and once again it’s absolutely true. You find out what people are really made of when things aren’t perfect. When you’re winning, it’s easy to jump on board. This year, character has been revealed, and this team of guys has more than any group I’ve ever come across.”

A switch to a new manufacturer has hampered Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar race team to a certain extent, and when you add in the biggest rule changes since the class’ inception more than three decades ago — most notably switching to electronic fuel injection — the group has struggled to find a new groove.

“Just like there’s no quit in this pit, there are no excuses either,” Enders said. “Other teams have figured out the fuel injection better than we have, so it can be done. We’ll get there ourselves; it’s just taking longer than we thought.

“Most of the guys on the team, aside from really important family stuff, haven’t taken a day off this whole year. No one is happy with our performance but no one has complained or quit the team to go somewhere else. I think I’m more proud of these guys this year than I have been the two years we won the championships. That’s saying a lot.”

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

Erica Enders extends points lead with brilliant performance in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, MO — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders fell short of her fourth consecutive victory, but she still extended her Pro Stock points lead with a runner-up finish at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Enders continued to put on a brilliant driving display at Gateway. She became the first driver in NHRA history to win three consecutive finals on holeshots when she won in Charlotte last weekend and then left first on all four opponents this Sunday, including reaction times of .002, .002, and .003 in her last three rounds.

“I’m super comfortable in the car,” Enders said. “I know what I’m capable of, I know what my guys are capable of, and that gives me peace of mind. I’m able to go out there and do my job. We’re going to leave with our heads held high, go to Reading, and try to continue to spread the points on those KB boys.”

By racing to the final round, Enders extended her points lead to 113 over KB Racing driver Greg Anderson, who lost in the second round.

“It was a great points day,” Enders said. “The competitor side of us allows us to be frustrated when we don’t win, but we’ll go back and go through our notes, and one of us will stay and test tomorrow. It’s a great day. A.J. helped us a lot by beating Greg second round, and I was able to put another 40-point spread on him.

“That’s all that matters. We’ve got to keep pace. I really wanted to win four in a row and have eight for the season and have those records, but God has a bigger plan, and I’m OK with that. We’ve got our eye on the big prize.”

Enders began her day by blitzing Alex Laughlin with a pass of 6.586 seconds at 210.87 mph, but crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll made improvements on her Transportation Impact Camaro. Against Elite teammate Vincent Nobile, Enders had a .002 light and made a pass of 6.620 seconds at 211.66 mph to get the win.

Another .002 light gave her a jump on semifinal opponent Bo Butner, who made the quicker pass, a 6.520 at 212.43 mph, but Enders’ 6.524-second pass at 212.06 mph was enough to hold him off.

In the final, Enders had an .003 light, but her car went into immediate tire shake, and all she could do was watch teammate Drew Skillman get his first career victory with a pass of 6.529 at 211.63 mph.

“Of course we want to win, but today was Drew’s day,” Enders said. “It was just meant to be for him. If I have to lose, I’m glad it’s to my teammate, so we’re still able to share the winner’s circle under the Elite Motorsports banner.”

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders chases fourth straight win from No. 3 spot

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ST. LOUIS, MO — NHRA Pro Stock World Champion and currents points leader Erica Enders will be gunning for her fourth consecutive victory when she begins eliminations at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park from the No. 3 position Sunday.

Enders, driving the Elite Motorsports/Transportation Impact Chevrolet, will also be chasing her third victory in her last four races at Gateway, having won here in 2012 and 2013.

“We’ve got a consistent race car,” Enders said. “I’m really proud of my guys. It’s easy to not be slightly disappointed when you’re not on top but know what you are capable of, but at the same time, we’re third and we’re going into Sunday with a four-round points lead. Plus, I’m on opposite sides of the ladder from my teammate Drew (Skillman). I’m hopeful for a really long Sunday.”

Enders came to Gateway with an 83-point lead after winning the first race of the Countdown to the Championship last weekend in Charlotte. Greg Anderson accumulated eight more bonus points through qualifying, but Enders has still been very fast here. Her best pass was 6.508 seconds at 212.13 mph to qualify fourth or better for the 16th time in 20 races. The previous 15 times she has qualified fourth or better in 2015, she has scored seven victories, raced to eight finals, and reached 13 semifinals.

“We didn’t accumulate the bonus points that we would’ve liked this weekend,” Enders said. “But we’ll take those 20-point swings for winning a round. I’m optimistic going into Sunday. I know that my consistent race car is more than capable of being driven to the winner’s circle.

“Sometimes Sunday is about survival of the fittest, not the fastest. That’s what we’ve been blessed to be able to accomplish the last couple of weeks.”

Enders set an NHRA record by winning three consecutive final rounds on holeshots — in Brainerd, Minn., Indianapolis, and Charlotte — but she brushed aside the accomplishment.

“For starters, that’s my job,” Enders said. “I don’t know what all the hoopla is about. But we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of really cool firsts, and that’s another one to add to the book. The way I look at it is as long as that win light comes on, I don’t care how we get it.”

Enders begins her race at Gateway against Alex Laughlin, who qualified No. 14 with a top lap of 6.561 seconds at 211.63 mph.

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