CHANDLER, Ariz. – Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens had a history making 2012 season when she became the first woman to win an NHRA Pro Stock national event. She will try to duplicate her past season successes and score her first victory of the 2013 season at this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, Feb. 22-24.
The event, which will be televised on ESPN2 HD, is the second of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), and Jason Line (Pro Stock) are defending event winners.
Enders-Stevens, who is one of only six women to ever compete in the Pro Stock category since it was introduced by NHRA in 1970 and by far the most successful, is confident she will regain her consistency when she returns to FIR. After qualifying third at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona last weekend, she lost in the first round to Kurt Johnson. A rare engine malfunction ended her day. She is ready to turn her fortunes around and get back on the winning track in Phoenix.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the new Mello Yello Drag Racing season,” Enders-Stevens said. “Phoenix is a home town for me. I have a lot of family there. We performed well in Phoenix last year. It was definitely a race we should have won and I want to go back and get it!”
Last season, Enders-Stevens drove her GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt to four victories and a fourth-place finish in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. She also became one of two women to claim professional category wins at the same event, joining Funny Car racer Courtney Force on the podium in Seattle. Enders-Stevens’ is proud of her accomplishments, but there is one other title she wants even more: the NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock world championship.
“Last year was a dream year for me and I’m very blessed,” Enders-Stevens said. “The competitiveness in me wants to capitalize on that this year and do even better. Our sights are set on the championship. We’ve definitely got the team, the car and power to do so. We’re very excited about this year and plan to do better than last year.”
Enders-Stevens will have to raise the bar higher this season with a Pro Stock field knee-deep in talent. At the just completed O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, Vincent Nobile leads the points after racing to his sixth career victory. The 20-year-old driver is followed closely by two-time FIR winner Jeg Coughlin Jr., veteran and past Phoenix winner V. Gaines, defending world champ Allen Johnson, and the Summit Racing duo of defending event winner Line and Greg Anderson.
In Top Fuel, Al-Anabi Racing driver Shawn Langdon is in the points lead following his Winternationals victory, while seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher is nipping at his heels. Defending event winner and reigning world champ Antron Brown will try to get his season back on track at this event after walking away from a spectacular crash last weekend. Others to watch in Top Fuel include Khalid alBalooshi, two-time FIR winners Brandon Bernstein and Doug Kalitta, Morgan Lucas and Steve Torrence.
Funny Car phenom Courtney Force opened the new season in the winner's circle and will try to go for two victories in a row at the controls of her Traxxas Ford Mustang. Her father John is the winningest driver in FIR history with eight titles. There are tons of challengers in the 8,000 horsepower category, including three-time FIR winner and defending world champ Jack Beckman, two-time event winner Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, Matt Hagan and Del Worsham, among others.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful motorsports attraction on the planet. While visiting the pits, fans will also want to check out the interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
Fans also will want to take advantage of the popular Championship Sunday Track Walk, which is free to all Sunday ticket holders. This popular event gives fans the opportunity to walk down the legendary drag strip alongside some of the NHRA’s biggest stars.
• SCHEDULE: Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22 and continue on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24.
• TICKETS: Tickets are available for the NHRA Arizona Nationals online at www.firebirdraceway.com or by calling the FIR ticket office at (602) 268-0200.
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 90 minutes of qualifying coverage at 1 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, Feb. 24 and three hours and 30 minutes of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Feb. 24.
• ON THE WEB: Get instant results, access to photos, video and audio clips, and the latest news updates from every NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.NHRA.com.
NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, the second of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Firebird International Raceway, Chandler, Ariz. Track is located off Interstate 10 at exit 162. Follow the signs.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Feb. 22-24.
FRIDAY, Feb. 22 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2 and 4 p.m.
SATURDAY, Feb. 23- LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Feb. 24 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Sunday, Feb. 24, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 90 minutes of qualifying highlights at 1 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Feb. 24, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will re-air one hour of coverage starting at 8 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Feb. 24, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours and 30 minutes of coverage starting at 8 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Digital HD feed):
Friday, Feb. 22, 9 - 9:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 9 / Transponder 08C
Saturday, Feb. 23, 8 - 8:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 9 / Transponder 08C
Sunday, Feb. 24, 9 - 9:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 9 / Transponder 08C
(3860 MHz, vertical; Data Rate: 40.46147055; Mbp; Symbol Rate: 29.27 Ms; FEC: ¾; Bandwidth: 36 Mhz)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
2012 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, FC - 8; Bob Glidden, PS - 5; Jack Beckman, FC - 3; Kenny Bernstein, TF-FC - 3; Larry Dixon, TF - 3; Tony Schumacher, TF - 3; Cory McClenathan, TF - 3;Darrell Alderman, PS - 3; Kurt Johnson, PS - 3; Warren Johnson, PS - 3.
Top Fuel - 3.754 sec. by Shawn Langdon Feb. ’12; 325.37 mph by Spencer Massey, Feb. ’12.
Funny Car - 4.023 sec. by Ron Capps, Feb. ’09; 311.34 mph by Matt Hagan, Feb. ’10.
Pro Stock - 6.536 sec. by Mike Edwards, Feb. ’12; 211.76 mph by Mike Edwards, Feb. ’12.
Top Fuel - 3.701 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.986 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 320.58 mph by Beckman, Oct. ‘12, Reading, Pa.
Pro Stock - 6.477 sec. by Jason Line, Oct. ’11, Reading, Pa.; 214.35 mph by Line, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
TICKETS: For tickets call (602) 268-0200. Tickets also available online at www.firebirdraceway.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the first of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Top Fuel: 1. Shawn Langdon, 116; 2. Tony Schumacher, 106; 3. Khalid alBalooshi, 74; 4. Antron Brown, 67; 5. Brandon Bernstein, 60; 6. Doug Kalitta, 59; 7. David Grubnic, 55; 8. Steve Torrence, 53; 9. Spencer Massey, 34; 10. Clay Millican, 33.
Funny Car: 1. Courtney Force, 124; 2. Ron Capps, 94; 3. Johnny Gray, 76; 4. Bob Tasca III, 71; 5. Gary Densham, 60; 6. Cruz Pedregon, 56; 7. Matt Hagan, 52; 8. Todd Lesenko, 51; 9. Jack Beckman, 43; 10. Del Worsham, 38.
Pro Stock: 1. Vincent Nobile, 118; 2. Jeg Coughlin, 95; 3. V. Gaines, 81; 4. Greg Stanfield, 72; 5. Allen Johnson, 52; 6. (tie) Shane Gray, 51; Kurt Johnson, 51; Chris McGaha, 51; 9. Mike Edwards, 45; 10. Erica Enders-Stevens, 42.