Posts Tagged Summernationals

Pro Stock leader Erica Enders anxious to challenge for fourth win of the year

ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — After winning three of the last four races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, reigning Pro Stock champion and current points leader Erica Enders would be a favorite no matter where she qualified for this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Summernationals. Fortunately, her Elite Motorsports Camaro is running as well as she has been driving, setting the table for another potential victory celebration at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

“Our confidence and attitude is certainly in the right place after winning three of the last four races,” Enders said. “At the same time, past performances mean nothing in drag racing. You have to prove yourself each and every round, each and every race, so we’ll be ready to do that.”

Enders qualified third with a 6.500 at 213.60 mph, which means she’ll begin elimination racing with lane choice against No. 14 qualifier Alan Prusiensky (6.615 at 210.50 mph). So far this year, Enders has won from the first, second, and fourth starting slots.

“Consistency is the key in drag racing, and that’s especially the case in Pro Stock because every race seems to be decided by just a few thousandths of a second,” Enders said. “We know our capabilities and the three guys tuning this RacingInRed.com Camaro are the best in the business, so I know I’ll sleep well tonight.

“Race day always gets me excited, and when you’re on a hot streak that feeling is amplified. We tested some extra things today and feel like we have the perfect combination to go rounds tomorrow. That’s the plan.”

Although she has accumulated 15 professional victories — just three shy of legend Shirley Muldowney’s 18-win career mark — Enders hasn’t found ultimate success at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park to date. That’s something she’d like to change Sunday.

“I’m not sure why we’ve struggled here,” Enders said. “We did set the national speed record last year here, so that was cool, but otherwise I’ve never had a perfect weekend at Old Bridge. My husband Richie (Stevens, fellow Pro Stock racer) has done real well here, so we talked a lot about this track during the week. I hope some of his mojo rubbed off on me.

“The Napp family (track owners) have made this place such a special stop on the tour. They’re old Jr. Dragster racers like me, and I’d love to visit their winner’s circle. It’s such an historic race, definitely one I’d like to win.”

Eliminations for Pro Stock are slated to begin around noon ET. ESPN2 will carry all the racing action Sunday afternoon.

Erica Enders stays hot, puts Elite Motorsports Chevy at top of Pro Stock chart

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ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — Erica Enders and her Elite Motorsports team continue to pace the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class, speeding to the provisional No. 1 qualifier at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals on Friday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Enders was quickest in all three qualifying sessions and all four rounds of eliminations in winning at Heartland Park Topeka two weeks ago for her third victory in the last four races.

In the second qualifying session Friday in Englishtown, Enders’ pass of 6.508 seconds at 213.06 mph put the 2014 Pro Stock champion at the top of the chart.

“We just feel like we’re getting a better handle on the tire and the fuel,” Enders said. “I know I talk about that a lot, but it’s been a true challenge for everyone in the class. With our new race car, we’re applying those changes and learning the best we can from the data we’ve acquired. It’s all going in the right direction.

“Pro Stock goes in spurts and waves, and I know that, but right now we’re doing really well as a team. We’re having fun, most importantly, and that contributes a lot to our on-track success.”

While Enders’ streak of having low elapsed time in each round ended at seven, she bounced back from a 6.550-second run that was sixth-quickest in Q1 to take the top spot.

“In the first run, we were just way too conservative,” Enders said. “We went out there in Q2 and just got after it. I knew when I un-clutched it that we were on a good run. It just speaks volumes of my crew chiefs and what they’re capable of.

“Of course, they’re perfectionists, so when we got back to the trailer, they were like, ‘We should’ve done this, done that.’ We’re excited about tomorrow and proud of what we accomplished today.”

Enders was helped by better weather conditions in Q2, as temperatures dropped, but air conditions improved, too.

“The second session was definitely a little bit better,” Enders said. “In Pro Stock, we look at barometer mostly, how many water grains are in the air, humidity, so it was a little bit better on that run. We knew going into today that it wasn’t going to be record-setting conditions.”

And conditions tomorrow may not be any better, when the final two qualifying sessions are scheduled.

“It’s supposed to be seven degrees warmer, so we’re just going to have to watch the barometer closely and see what happens,” Enders said. “It should be OK, and if that’s the case, we’re going to do a little testing tomorrow and see if we can better ourselves for Sunday.”

Record setter Erica Enders returns to Englishtown on a roll

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ENGLISHTOWN, NJ — No one was faster during the 2014 Toyota NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park than Erica Enders, and no one is more excited to return for this year’s event.

Enders and her Elite Motorsports team set the national elapsed time and speed records in Englishtown a year ago, 6.464 seconds and 215.55 mph, and she still holds the speed mark.

“There’s a lot of history at Raceway Park,” said Enders, the 2014 Pro Stock champion. “I’m excited to go back because we set both ends of the national record there for e.t. and mph. The e.t. record was just broken by Jason (Line) in Charlotte, but we still hold the mph record. Definitely some fond memories there for me: My husband Richie (Stevens) has won there a handful of times, so it’s a lucky track for him.”

Plus, Englishtown is a favorite stop for Pro Stock competitors because fans in the area truly love the class.

“It’s Pro Stock country up there,” Enders said. “People there love Pro Stock, so it’s always exciting to get back to a racetrack where the whole grandstands want to see us race. The back of the pits are packed, and you get a lot of educated questions. It’s nice.”

Weather may not allow for record-setting runs this year, but Enders should still be among the fastest drivers. She is coming off a victory at Heartland Park Topeka, where she was the quickest in all three rounds of qualifying and in all four rounds of eliminations. The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 80s this weekend with a slight chance for rain.

“Englishtown and Reading are always two of the most likely tracks to have weather conditions conducive for record-setting runs,” Enders said. “If the conditions are there, I definitely put our money on us. We’ve certainly got a good handle on our hot rod right now, and I’ve been driving really well. We’ll see what the good Lord deals us with the weather, and we’ll go up there and do our best.

“Record or not, our goal is to win the race. Coming off a win in Topeka, I’m very excited to get back behind the wheel.”

The Topeka victory put Enders back on top in the points standings for the second time this season, and she leads Line by 58 points, but this is no time to be counting points, Enders said.

“It’s always exciting to lead the points, but it’s a long season,” Enders said. “We’re only a third of the way through it, and we’ve got a lot of races left. There are a lot of tough competitors out there in Pro Stock, and it’s going to come down to the wire. With the Countdown format, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to get very far ahead. We were 250 points ahead last year, and it came down to the final round of the final race.”

Qualifying for the Toyota NHRA Summernationals takes place at 3:45 and 6:15 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Elimination racing begins at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all of the action.

Tire Shake Cuts Englishtown Short for BLACK iGUANA Racer Enders

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ENGLISHTOWN, NJ (June 3) — Erica Enders-Stevens was dealt a frustrating 2nd round loss when her BLACK iGUANA Frozen Rita Camaro shook the tires during the 44th Annual NHRA Toyota Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey.

The number-three qualified Enders made a solid 6.601 @ 209.62 mph pass in round one, defeating Frank Gugliotta who fouled out at the line with a -.010 red light start.

But it was the second round match-up against reigning series champ Allen Johnson that would cut her quest for another Wally trophy short.

With Enders and Johnson kicking off round two, the BLACK iGUANA Camaro immediately succumbed to tire shake during the launch, causing the car to cut hard right and forcing her to push in the clutch and call off the pass.

“As I felt it start to shake I quickly pulled 2nd, but it wasn’t enough to calm the car down,” said Enders.

As elimination rounds progress with each class, track conditions begin to change. Even seemingly minor shifts can have a big impact on how a crew chief makes their decision on what to tweak in order to get the car down the track.

“Being the first pair out, you also don’t have the opportunity to watch other cars go down ahead of you,” she explained. “It’s an extra challenge for crew chiefs, especially in this heat. Unfortunately, we missed our mark today and we took our lumps for it.”

Johnson would go on to a pass of 6.646 @ 209.65 mph and eventually take his Mopar Dodge Avenger to a runner-up finish against number the one qualifier, Mike Edwards.

Enders wasn’t the only one to be shook out of contention this weekend. Topeka winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. and hometown favorite Vincent Nobile would also experience similar fates.

“As a driver you want to get down the track, and you can sometimes fight your way through it. This just wasn’t one of those times for us,” Enders said. “It’s frustrating as we’ve had a fast car in qualifying, but haven’t been able to translate it into more round wins on Sunday.”

With Englishtown on the books, Enders remains 4th in overall points. The NHRA heads next to Bristol, Tennesse June 14th – 16th for the 13th Annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.