Posts Tagged Win
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.”
PHOENIX, AZ — While Danica Patrick made women’s history in Daytona, KLR Group driver Erica Enders-Stevens rallied back from an early exit last weekend to claim her 5th career NHRA Pro Stock win at the 29th annual Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway outside of Phoenix.
Driving the Cagnazzi Racing-powered GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt from the number seven qualifying position, Erica advanced over Shane Gray in the first round before facing number two qualifier V. Gaines. With identical elapsed times of 6.533 seconds, Erica out-drove Gaines, posting a .033 reaction time to his .074. With the holeshot win, she advanced to a semi final matchup against 2-time champion Jason Line.
With lane choice in Line’s favor, Erica’s pass of 6.563 @ 212.19 mph bested Line, who shook the tires early and ended his run with a 6.619 @ 212.76 mph. She would advance to face Mike Edwards, whose Camaro dominated qualifying, claiming the number one spot for the second race in a row.
Yet in the final it was all Erica. Scoring a massive .053 second jump, she nailed her 2nd holeshot win of the event, beating Edwards to the finish line by over 10 feet with a 6.538 @ 211.99 to his 6.520 @ 213.74.
“Going into the final we knew we had to pull out all the stops,” said Erica. “The way we started this year, it was a gut check to see if we could get back to last year’s performance level.”
During last weekend’s Winternationals in Pomona, Enders-Stevens’ number three qualifying advantage was cut short by a crushing engine failure during the first round of eliminations, allowing Kurt Johnson to claim the win light.
But with Sunday’s win, Erica has rebounded to 2nd place in overall Pro Stock points with 155, trailing Vincent Nobile’s 171. She also joins Nobile as the first Pro Stock drivers to capture a Wally in the new NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, and the second woman, alongside Funny Car driver Courtney Force.