Drag racing star Erica Enders-Stevens will be back in Keith Haney Racing's Pro Mod Camaro for the final two ADRL events of the 2013 season, team owner Keith Haney announced on Sunday.
Enders-Stevens will race in Dragstock X on Sept. 6-8 at Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, N.C., and then in her hometown event, the World Finals IX, on Oct. 19-20 at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas. Brandon Pesz of Lethal Acceleration will continue as crew chief.
Enders-Stevens, a native of Houston, raced for Haney in Memphis, Tenn., earlier this month, Erica Enders-Stevens marking the first time she drove a nitrous-powered race car. The five-time NHRA winner qualified for this year's Countdown to the Championship in Pro Stock, but her Cagnazzi Racing team has been sidelined because of lack of sponsorship.
"I'm really excited to have been invited back to drive for Keith," Enders-Stevens said. "That was a really fun opportunity in Memphis, and given some more time in the car it will only get better. I'm glad to be going back."
Haney, Enders-Stevens' car owner and teammate, was overwhelmed by the response she got in Memphis, giving additional exposure to Keith Haney Racing sponsors Lucas Oil, Pro Torque, Racing Junk, Monroe Guest Motorsports, Regional Hyundai, Suburban Chevrolet, Classic Chevrolet, Miami Chevrolet Buick GMC, Nissan of Muskogee, and Tulsa Raceway Park.
"It was really, really good for her and good for Sportsman racing," Haney said. "It was amazing for us, too. We just keep growing."
Haney hopes to continue capitalizing on Enders-Stevens' popularity through social media and fan interaction.
"It's good for the sport," Haney said. "It's good for Keith Haney Racing, it's good for our sponsors."
Plus, it's good for the ADRL, and league co-founder Kenny Nowling knows it. He offered the team free entry and free testing for Enders-Stevens' appearances in the remaining ADRL races.
It's also good for Enders-Stevens, who loves racing in Houston. After the race in Memphis, she immediately inquired about racing again for Haney.
"She got out of the race car and said, 'I'd love to drive again,' " Haney said. "I said, 'OK. What race would you like to drive?' She said, 'I'd like to drive in my hometown.' "
Houston has always been special for her, as it was the site of her first national event victory, in Super Gas in 2004.
"I'm so glad to be going back home," Enders-Stevens said. "We raced there in April and didn't have the best of showings, so to be able to have another opportunity in a car with twice the horsepower is really cool. I'm looking forward to it."
As an added bonus, husband Richie Stevens will be part of Haney's crew in Rockingham.
Erica Enders-Stevens will race for Keith Haney Racing at the final two ADRL events of the season.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (July 31) - Five-time NHRA Pro Stock winner Erica Enders-Stevens will drive for Keith Haney Racing in this weekend's ADRL Memphis Drags IV at Memphis International Raceway. Led by team manager John Collins, Keith Haney Racing will compete in the Pro Modified class in Memphis, with Enders-Stevens and Haney driving Chevrolet Camaros.
"It's good for Keith Haney Racing to have a racer of Erica's caliber sitting in the seat of one of the cars," Haney said. "It's big for me and big for her. She stays in front of the public eye with her stature and her reputation, and she gets to deliver to her fans and potential sponsors.
"My team couldn't be more excited, and it's a perfect fit for what we're doing."
Haney has ties to NHRA Pro Stock racing through fellow Oklahoman Mike Edwards, and several Pro Stock teams test at Tulsa Raceway Park, co-owned by Haney and Todd Martin.
Enders-Stevens, who won the NHRA Pro Stock race in Phoenix earlier this year, has been sidelined because of a lack of funding for the Cagnazzi Racing team, so when Haney asked if she could drive for him in Memphis, she jumped at the chance.
"He sent me an text telling me I could drive his Pro Mod car in Memphis if I wanted to," Enders-Stevens said. "I wrote him back with one word, 'Seriously?' "
Haney was serious, and after the two talked and Enders-Stevens got approval from Pro Stock car owner Victor Cagnazzi, the deal was done.
"It's a competitive car, and Keith has a first-class operation," Enders-Stevens said. "I remember being at ADRL races last year when Richie (Stevens, husband) was driving Extreme Pro Stock and just admiring how awesome his cars looked. Those two Camaros he has are really nice cars.
"I'm appreciative to Keith for the opportunity, and I'm excited to see what the weekend holds."
Haney, a driver/owner in ADRL and X-DRL, was looking for a driver since regular shoe Monroe Guest had shoulder surgery. When he first considered Enders-Stevens, he called Lethal Acceleration co-owner Brandon Pesz, who tunes Haney's race cars.
"She's good on the Tree and she can drive a race car," Haney said. "Brandon has known her since she was little, and he's from Texas. I called him first and said, 'Hey, if I offer Erica a ride in the car, what do you think?' He said, 'Get her in it. She can wheel any type of race car.'
"It's a one-race deal, and I'm sure she'll be back in a Pro Stock car very soon, but for now Keith Haney Racing is fortunate enough to have a five-time national event winner wheeling one of its Camaros." Enders-Stevens is ready for the challenge, too.
"I've never driven a Pro Mod car, never driven a nitrous car," Enders-Stevens said. "It will definitely be a learning experience, and I'm sure the learning curve is significant, but it's nothing I can't handle.
"I'm going into it with an open mind. I give speeches to kids about following their dreams, jumping on every opportunity possible and not letting fear stand in the way of anything they do. I'm taking my own advice in this instance. I'm a professional race car driver, and I'll do the best I can. We'll see what happens."
Haney has the backing of Lucas Oil, a longtime supporter of his race team, as the two companies have worked together for many years. Haney uses Lucas Oil products in his race cars, and the company co-owned by Forrest and Charlotte Lucas has been a big proponent of Pro Mod racing.