Enders, Elite Going Back To Chevy

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, December 8 2016

Erica Enders will be driving Chevys again in 2017. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

Multiple NHRA Pro Stock world champions Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders have rejoined the Bowtie Brigade.

Elite Motorsports team-owner Richard Freeman announced at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis that Coughlin and Enders will compete for the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock crown in a pair of RJ Racecars-built Chevrolet Camaros.

The return to Chevrolet from Dodge was widely anticipated after Freeman ended his one-year relationship with Mopar and its Dart program in late November after one season. Enders drove the Camaro to the 2014 and 2015 world championships for Elite Motorsports. Coughlin drove a Chevrolet to four of his five Pro Stock championships and also piloted a Chevy when he won the 1992 Super Gas world title.

“It comes down to what works best for us,” Freeman said in a team release. “My brothers and I have just about always been GM guys. Our engine-builders, Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston, have had their best success with GM motors. Our crew chiefs Rick Jones, Mark Ingersoll and Brian Self are very comfortable with Chevrolets. It’s a natural fit for us.

“We want to get back to winning races and contending for championships and we feel Chevrolet gives us the best chance to do that at this point in time. We all know Pro Stock races come down to thousandths of seconds and as tough as the competition is out there you can’t give an inch.”

Enders will campaign the red Elite Motorsports Camaro SS. Coughlin will drive the yellow-and-black JEGS.com/Elite Camaro SS.

Enders, a 33-year-old resident of New Orleans, finished ninth in points during the 2016 Countdown to the Championship in her Dodge, never advancing to a final-round in 24 events.

Coughlin, winner of 58 Pro Stock national events and 76 overall, placed 10th in his Dart in 2016. Coughlin claimed his “Factory Hot Rod” world championships in 2000, 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2013. Coughlin’s winless 2016 season was only the fifth during a career dating to his Pro Stock debut in 1997, when he became the first driver to win in four NHRA categories _ Pro Stock, Super Stock, Competition Eliminator and Super Gas.

Under Freeman’s guidance, Jones and his son Rickie Jones _ who left the team recently to start a family _ tuned Enders to six victories in 2014 and nine in 2015, all with Chevy power. Coughlin won 72 of his 76 events with GM power.

“The Camaro is a great car and one I’m very comfortable with as a driver,” said Coughlin, a 46-year-old resident of Delaware, Ohio. “Rick and Rickie build awesome race cars and getting the latest and greatest one out of their shop makes me feel like a kid at Christmas.

“I know we’re all anxious to get back out there and prove ourselves. Drag racers are most certainly graded by their last event and we want to get back to the top of the class once again where we feel like we belong. There’s a mountain of experience at Elite Motorsports and I know we’re in for a big year ahead.”

Coughlin’s biggest rivals could be Elite teammates Enders and Vincent Nobile, who returns to the team with his Mountain View Chevrolet.

“The dream scenario is one of us is in the winner’s circle at every race,” said Enders, the most prolific female in Pro Stock and one of only three women in the 65-year history of the NHRA to win a professional title. “The KB Racing team dominated the field with their three cars this last season and we did a pretty good job ourselves in ’14 and ’15 so we know it can be done.

“As Jeg said, our guys are really hungry to win again. I believe the move back to Chevrolet is by far the best one we could have made and we plan to show everyone that beginning in February in Pomona.”

Track testing with the 2017 Pro Stock Camaro SS is scheduled to begin later this month. The new Camaro will make its competitive debut during the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.

Chevrolet, meanwhile, unveiled its Gen Six Pro Stock Camaro SS at the PRI show Thursday. The new model builds on the success of the championship-winning fifth-generation-based race car. Camaro Pro Stock drivers won 23 of 24 events during the 2016 NHRA season.

Jason Line of Ken Black Racing won eight events in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro en route to capturing his third world title and third straight championship for Chevrolet. Point runnerup and teammate Greg Anderson, a four-time world champion, won eight events in his Summit Camaro SS.


John Force Racing and Advance Auto Parts have announced a multi-year primary sponsorship deal for Courtney Force’s Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car.  Sponsorship will begin with the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opener, the Circle K NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., and cover the winningest female Funny Car driver in NHRA history throughout the season.

Advance Auto Parts is a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider in North America, serving both professional installer and do-it-yourself customers.

“I’m thrilled to be driving the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car starting in 2017,” Courtney Force said Friday from JFR’s shop in Brownsburg, Ind. “Last season, we made some big strides toward our first championship and I’m very confident in my team led by my crew chiefs, Dan Hood and Ronnie Thompson, and that next season can be even better. I love the look of this red, yellow and black Camaro and I can’t wait to get it into the winner’s circle.”

Last year Advance Auto Parts appeared on John Force’s PEAK Camaro Funny Car at select events, including a trip to the winner’s circle at the NHRA Carolina Nationals to start the 2016 Countdown to the Championship.

“This is a real business-to-business deal for John Force Racing. We expanded our relationship with PEAK at the beginning of last season and we ran the Advance Auto Parts Funny Car a couple times,” said John Force, JFR CEO and 16-time Funny Car champion. “The opportunity came to grow the deal and they were interested in Courtney so it was a perfect match. We’re excited to work with Sponsorship Integrated Manager Matt Davis and his team at Advance to help them grow their business across all their stores. I’ve done shows with Advance Auto Parts in the past and am looking forward to working with them again.”

Advance Auto Parts has been actively involved in motorsports through  NHRA, NASCAR and other motorsports series important to its customers.

“We are proud to be partnering with Courtney Force and the John Force Racing team for the 2017 season and beyond,” said Walter Scott, Chief Marketing Officer for Advance Auto Parts. “After working with John and the team last year through our partnership with PEAK, we got to know Courtney and felt she would be a great ambassador for our company.  Our team members and customers love NHRA drag racing and we can’t wait to see the Advance Auto Parts Funny Car on the track in 2017.”

As of Oct. 8, 2016, Advance operated 5,058 stores and 127 Worldpac branches and served approximately 1,250 independently owned Carquest branded stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada. Advance employs approximately 74,000 Team Members.

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, December 8 2016
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