Posts Tagged St. Louis

Pro Stock champ, points leader Erica Enders heads to St. Louis with formidable momentum, new sponsor

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ST. LOUIS, MO — Erica Enders arrives at Gateway Motorsports Park for this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on a three-race winning streak that has her 83 points ahead of her nearest rival in a quest to win consecutive Pro Stock world championships.

In addition, the driver of Elite Motorsports’ crimson cannonball, which will sport new sponsorship from Transportation Impact, doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Enders is on a roll, having just passed legend and friend Shirley Muldowney’s career win total with her 19th victory last Sunday in Charlotte.

“It’s definitely a good point in the year to have momentum,” Enders said. “I’ve always said we create our own momentum, and it’s a great confidence-booster for everyone on the team. We’re one race into three consecutive events for the start of the Countdown to the Championship, and we couldn’t be doing any better. We were able to begin the Countdown with the No. 1 ranking and hold strong in Charlotte and win the race, so we definitely have a little bit of a lead.

“Passing Shirley was too much to even wrap my head around. She was the person I wanted to be when I grew up and to see her name next to mine is surreal. And then she was one of the first people to call me and say, ‘Good job.’ It’s very special and means more to me than you’ll ever know.”

As for this weekend, Enders already knows the way to Gateway’s victory platform, having visited it twice before. Now she’s hoping for another return to pad her lead that much more.

“I’ve never been shy to say St. Louis is one of my favorite tracks,” Enders said. “I had some success there in the Sportsman days and got my only Countdown win in 2013 there. It’s just an exciting, fun place to race. We recently tested there before Indy, so we got some good data for that facility. I’m excited to go back, especially off the successful three weeks we’ve had.”

Just one day after winning at zMax Dragway for the very first time, Enders and her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro team proudly announced a major associate sponsorship agreement with Transportation Impact, a privately-held logistics company that specializes in helping some of the largest companies in the world drastically reduce their shipping costs.

Enders will be celebrating a birthday shortly after the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, and she plans to blow out everyone else’s candles on Sunday before extinguishing hers on Oct. 8.

“I’m very optimistic and excited about what’s to come,” Enders said. “I’m hopeful we can carry our momentum to St. Louis.”

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 are scheduled to begin at noon on Sunday.

Determined Enders-Stevens Moves to Third in Pro Stock Standings

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 28) — Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens left Gateway Motorsports Park on Sunday more determined than ever in her pursuit of the Pro Stock championship.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in six of the seven rounds in which she competed, earned the No. 1 qualifier, and raced to the semifinals of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Plus, she had the better reaction time in her three rounds of eliminations Sunday.

“Awesome weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “That’s obviously not the way we had anticipated it ending, but God’s got a plan and I trust it. We’re going to move on to Reading (Pa.).”

Enders-Stevens moved up to third in the points standings, trailing leader Jason Line by 67 heading to the NHRA Nationals next weekend at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading.

“I could not be more proud of my guys,” Enders-Stevens said. “They work their tails off for me and for us. We have the best car on the property, the best team in the business, the best crew chiefs, and I’m driving well. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, and all my money is on us, like it is all the time. I have all the faith in the world and I’m hungry.

“We’ve got a lot of heart, determination, and perseverance, and we’re going to go to Reading with our chins held high.”

Enders-Stevens started Sunday’s eliminations with a .014-second reaction time and a 6.514-second pass at 212.66 mph that took out No. 16 qualifier Larry Morgan, whose run was 6.651 seconds at 208.78 mph.

Next up was Countdown to the Championship contender Jonathan Gray, but she left first with a .032 light and then outran him with a 6.538-second pass at 212.39 mph. Gray, fifth in the points standings, made a pass of 6.590 seconds at 206.48 mph.

Including all four qualifying sessions, Enders-Stevens was quickest in six consecutive rounds. But in the semifinals against Dave Connolly, her Camaro shook the tires and she pushed the clutch in, coasting to a pass of 15.947 seconds at 52.67 mph.

Connolly trailed at the Christmas Tree, as Enders-Stevens had a .014 light to Connolly’s .022, but he got the win with a pass of 6.576 at 211.46 mph.

“Six in a row and I guarantee if she hooked, it would’ve been seven in a row and going to the finals,” Enders-Stevens said. “But that wasn’t God’s will today and that’s OK. There’s a reason for everything.

“What an awesome opportunity for me to drive this Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro for such an elite group of guys. I’m really proud of them and the sky’s the limit for us. Teamwork makes the dream work.”

Dominant Qualifying Performance Puts Enders-Stevens in Position for Gateway Three-Peat

Erica Enders-Stevens qualifies number 1 in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (Sept. 27) — Erica Enders-Stevens capped off a dominant performance in qualifying with the No. 1 spot for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Enders-Stevens was quickest in all four qualifying sessions, including her 6.511-second pass at 213.03 mph in Q4 that earned her a fourth No. 1 this season and 10th in her career.

“We were trying to be consistent and have a nice race-day setup for tomorrow,” Enders-Stevens said of her pole-winning pass. “The air was similar to qualifying pass No. 3 and pretty similar to yesterday’s as well, so it was conducive for us to go. We talked about it before, for us to go a high .50, low .51, and we were able to accomplish just that.

“I’m really proud of my team. They’ve given me a consistent race car and a fast one at that. I’m excited about tomorrow.”

Sweeping the top spot in each of the four sessions also earned Enders-Stevens 12 qualifying bonus points and unofficially moved her to third in the Pro Stock standings, 47 markers out of the lead.

“We’ve had four really nice runs that we’re proud of,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are definitely ways to nitpick it and improve but Q4 was a good run. I knew when I let the clutch out on that last run.”

Enders-Stevens faces No. 16 qualifier Larry Morgan in the first round Sunday after Morgan made a best pass of 6.612 seconds at 209.95 mph. She’s gunning for her third consecutive victory in St. Louis.

Gateway could be a pivotal race in the Countdown to the Championship, as eight of the Countdown drivers are in the top half of the field. Plus, Gateway marks the halfway point of the six-race playoffs.

“We’ve got a stout group of players out there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us. Our side of the ladder is packed with all three of the Gray (Motorsports) cars, and two of them are in front of us in the points standings.

“We get a shot to control our own destiny tomorrow. We’re going to focus one round at a time. I know I keep saying that, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.

“I’m excited and obviously a positive attitude has a lot to do with it. We’re going to go into tomorrow swinging for it. At this point, we look at it as it’s ours to lose. We’ve just got to do our jobs.”

St. Louis Continues to be Elite Track for Enders-Stevens

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 26) — The love affair with Gateway Motorsports Park continued Friday for Pro Stock racer Erica Enders-Stevens.

The Elite Motorsports driver, who is gunning for her third consecutive Pro Stock victory at Gateway, earned the provisional No. 1 qualifier for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals with a blistering pass of 6.513 seconds at 212.90 mph.

“I love St. Louis; I have since I was a little girl,” Enders-Stevens said. “Coming here and racing in the Sportsman ranks, we had a couple of semifinal finishes in Super Comp and Super Gas. That’s pretty neat when you have a 100-count field.

“I’ve just always liked coming here, and when they brought the races back here in 2012, we were able to win then and in 2013 as well. We’re hoping for a three-peat this year.

“I’m not really sure what it is but there are just some tracks that are really good to certain drivers. I’m glad that this is one of them and I’m certainly glad that it’s in the Countdown at the moment. Day by day, we’ll see how it goes.”

Enders-Stevens’ top pass came in the first qualifying session, and she was hoping for an even quicker run in Q2.

“After that first session we were pleased with the numbers we saw up on the board,” Enders-Stevens said. “That was pretty evident when the No. 2 qualifier was a solid three-hundredths behind us. I’m really proud of my team. We went out there and made some changes for (Q2) and obviously missed it a little bit but should have, could have, would have.

“There was definitely a high .49, low .50 in the car, so we’ll go back and assess and see what happens tomorrow. I’m excited though.”

Two more qualifying sessions are on the schedule for Saturday, when Enders-Stevens could earn her fourth No. 1 of 2014 and 10th of her career.

But perhaps more important is the opportunity to add more qualifying bonus points. Enders-Stevens was quickest in the second session (6.413 seconds at 212.26 mph), earning six bonus points total on Friday.

Enders-Stevens came to Gateway fourth in the points standings after two of the six Countdown to the Championship races, trailing leader Jason Line by 59 points.

“(Qualifying points) are huge,” Enders-Stevens said. “I know I said it before but these baby points are going to be like thousandths of a second in Pro Stock racing out there on Sunday. Every little point matters, especially coming into this race. We’re only nine points behind third, 16 behind second, and three rounds behind first, so they all add up.

“We’re just going to take it one round at a time, one run at a time, day by day and do the best job that we can do.”

St. Louis Could be Enders-Stevens’ ‘Gateway’ to the Championship

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 23) — Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens has been perfect at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals since its addition to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule in 2012, and she hopes to keep her streak alive at Gateway Motorsports Park

Heading into St. Louis with the title of two-time defending champion, Enders-Stevens will be the odds-on favorite to complete the trifecta this weekend. Chasing the 2014 championship, Enders-Stevens’ Mach 1 Global Services Chevrolet will prove hard to beat.

“I’m really looking forward to going back to St. Louis,” Enders-Stevens. “We’re the defending champions there the last two consecutive years. That racetrack is really good to me; it’s definitely a lucky track.

“We always perform pretty well there. We’ve done a lot of testing there, so a lot of laps up and down that racetrack have been made.”

Returning to a track where she has had so much success, Enders-Stevens has faith that the dream season is going to continue with help from her Elite Motorsports team. Currently fourth in the standings, just 59 points behind leader Jason Line, Enders-Stevens feels confident that St. Louis could be the turning point she needs in the Countdown to the Championship.

“With this team, I feel even more capable than I ever have before,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m excited to get back there; the fans are always great and the facility is nice.

“We’re going to kick the weekend off with a press conference Thursday, followed by the Fan Festival downtown. It should be a really good, fun weekend for us. I’m excited to hit the road with my team and get the Countdown rolling in our direction.”

Qualifying sessions will be held at 2:45 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.

VIDEO: Erica Defends her Title in St. Louis

Enders-Stevens wins St. Louis, powers into title contention

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 29) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens added another chapter to her memory book Sunday, winning the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in spectacular fashion with a holeshot victory over Pro Stock points leader Mike Edwards.

“I love St. Louis,” said Enders-Stevens, who also won this race last year. “I’m glad to be back. It’s a good place for me.”

Enders-Stevens has raced at Gateway since 2001 but never won here as an amateur. But in 2012, Enders-Stevens finally broke through, beating eventual series champion Allen Johnson on a holeshot to secure her fourth victory of the season.

“This is the place where I signed my deal with Victor Cagnazzi in 2004 to start driving for him,” Enders-Stevens said. “Then we won last year. This track holds a lot of fond memories for me. Now here we are back in the winner’s circle. I love coming here, the fans are great and the facility is awesome.”

Enders-Stevens left on Edwards with a .021-second reaction time, and her pass of 6.540 seconds at 211.23 mph was enough to hold off Edwards’ charging 6.532-second run at 212.36 mph.

Sunday’s victory was her second of the season and sixth of her career, tying her with husband Richie Stevens. She’s also tied with Karen Stoffer and trails only Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney as the female with the most NHRA victories.

Plus, Enders-Stevens moved up two spots to fourth in the Pro Stock standings, now trailing Edwards by just 60 points with three races remaining in the Countdown to the Championship.

“The championship would have been out of reach had we exited first or second round here,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have to perform well, and we can’t make any mistakes. There are three races left, and that’s 12 rounds of racing. We’re three rounds out of first, and we’ve got to beat these heavy hitters.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world in my guys, and that’s our mentality. This is our championship, and they’re going to have to take it from us. That’s the attitude we have to have. We have to remain positive and optimistic. I’m excited about it.”

Enders-Stevens, crew chiefs Dave Connolly and Tommy Utt and her Cagnazzi Racing team returned to the Pro Stock wars thanks to a partnership with Husky Liners. Company President/Founder Bob Tyler spoke with Enders-Stevens by phone not long after she celebrated in victory lane.

“I just talked to Mr. Tyler and he’s really pleased with what we’re doing,” Enders-Stevens said. “I couldn’t thank him enough. It was four days before Charlotte, the first race of the Countdown, and I thought we were going to be sitting at home watching these guys compete for the championship. That changed really quickly when Husky Liners jumped on with us, and now here we are.”

And she has no intention of slowing down.

“My guys have been really great,” Enders-Stevens said. “We have team meetings and strategize our race-day plans. We got together and agreed that we’re going to have fun. You never know when it’s your last race, and we came back swinging.”

Enders-Stevens started her day by beating Deric Kramer in the first round, as the race was over when Kramer left -.007 seconds too soon. Enders-Stevens’ pass of 6.544 seconds at 211.16 mph was quick enough to secure lane choice against Shane Gray in the second round.

There, she made a pass of 6.556 seconds at 211.06 mph to beat Gray, who slowed to a run of 28.128 seconds at 24.81 mph.

In the semifinals, Enders-Stevens got down the track with a 6.555-second pass at 210.87 mph, beating a sliding Rickie Jones, who went 14.094 seconds at 60.23 mph.

Then came Edwards, who had taken over the points lead by reaching the final. But Enders-Stevens has her eye on the points lead, too.

“We’ve got three races left, and we’re going to do our best and let God do the rest,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Enders-Stevens focused on a repeat victory in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS (Sept. 28) – Husky Liners driver Erica Enders-Stevens hopes history repeats itself at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Last year Enders-Stevens and her Cagnazzi Racing team left with the Wally after winning here for what was their fourth victory of the season. She qualified No. 4 last year, and she’s in the same position in 2013.

“We’re right there,” Enders-Stevens said. “We got five baby points in qualifying, we’re certainly consistent, and my guys are doing a great job. I’m excited about what tomorrow holds.

“We’ve got a title to defend and a great car to do it with. We’ll see how eliminations go.”

Enders-Stevens earned the No. 4 spot with a pass of 6.528 seconds at 211.26 mph, run in Friday’s second qualifying session, when weather and track conditions were at their best. But she also made three other passes within .048-second of her best run, indicating she has a consistent Husky Liners Camaro. That bodes well for Sunday, when consistency is key.

“Consistency is always crucial on race day,” Enders-Stevens said. “I’m very pleased with our performance, and I’m confident about tomorrow. I’ve been driving well this weekend, and I’m really hopefully of bringing home another Wally from St. Louis.”

Enders-Stevens lines up against Deric Kramer in the first round Sunday. Kramer qualified No. 13 with a lap of 6.603 seconds at 209.30 mph, but Enders-Stevens and her team won’t take him lightly.

“He’s got good power,” Enders-Stevens said. “There are never any easy ones in Pro Stock. We’ve got to make another good, consistent run, and one good enough to get lane choice for the next round, providing we win first round.”

Enders-Stevens earned enough bonus points in qualifying to break out of a tie for sixth place in the standings. Gateway marks the third event of the six-race Countdown to the Championship, and Enders-Stevens finds herself 110 points out of the lead.

In addition to the points battle, she’s thinking about her husband Richie Stevens and her dad Gregg Enders, both of whom celebrated birthdays on Friday.

“It would be an added bonus to bring a Wally home for my dad and Richie’s birthday weekend,” Enders-Stevens said. “There’s no better birthday present for them than a Wally.”

Eliminations at Gateway Motorsports Park get under way at 11 a.m. CDT on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

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