Entering the 2023 season with five Pro Stock world championships and having won 15 of the 19 Pro Stock events contested last year in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, the Elite Motorsports team knows precisely what it takes to create a winning season. The members of the largest professional team in drag racing have been preparing throughout the offseason to do just that.
Professional drag racing kicks off this weekend for what is anticipated to be one of the most competitive seasons in NHRA history at the 54th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Fla. The Elite Motorsports crew plans to continue its powerful legacy in the sport and the excitement has been palpable as the team tested in nearby Bradenton, Fla. earlier this week.
“Coming off of such a phenomenal season means we’ve got a target on our backs,” said team owner Richard Freeman. “The competition in all of our categories – Pro Stock, Pro Mod and Mountain Motor Pro Stock – is going to be fierce this year. But this team thrives under pressure. Tell us we can’t do something and this team will find a way to get it done. The talent we have at Elite Motorsports is second-to-none, across the board. Every member of that team has been working during the offseason to make us even better. But we know that our competition has been doing the same. It’s going to be an exciting year for everyone.”
The Elite Motorsports fleet is comprised of eight Pro Stock, one Pro Mod and two Mountain Motor Pro Stock machines. Five-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders is returning along with her teammates Aaron Stanfield, Troy Coughlin Jr., Bo Butner, Fernando Cuadra Sr., Fernando Cuadra Jr., and Cristian Cuadra. New to the Pro Stock ranks this season is rookie Jerry Tucker. Piloting the Pro Mod entry will be sportsman veteran Mason Wright. Enders will compete alongside Freeman in the two Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars, new to the Elite fleet this season. In the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, David Cuadra will be debuting a new Elite Motorsports Top Sportsman Mustang.
Qualifying for the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals begins on March 9 for sportsman and March 10 for the pro categories. Follow Elite Motorsports online for updates throughout the event.
Elite Motorsports: Pre-race notes
Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals
Gainesville, Fla. (March 9-12)
The Elite Motorsports team, the largest team in professional drag racing, has expanded for 2023 and will field a total of 9 entries for this weekend’s season-opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. The Elite Pro Stock team features eight drivers including reigning and five-time world champ Erica Enders, Aaron Stanfield, Troy Coughlin Jr., Bo Butner, Fernando Cuadra and his two sons, Fernando Jr. and Cristian, as well as newcomer Jerry Tucker. The team will also field a Pro Mod entry for Mason Wright.
In the 19 Pro Stock events contested last season, Team Elite won 15 times and appeared in 26 of 38 possible final rounds. In addition to Enders’ 10 wins, Aaron Stanfield collected three victories while Troy Coughlin Jr. earned his first two professional victories.
Enders is coming off the most dominant season of her career that produced ten wins in 13 final round appearances and an astounding 55-9 record in elimination rounds. This season, Enders’ impressive roster of supporters includes Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage, Melling Performance, SCAG Mowers, PeopleLease and JEGS.
During her professional career, Enders has accumulated 43 wins in 74 final rounds and has a round-win record of 439-240 for a .646 win percentage.
Enders has won at least one event at 17 different venues but has not previously won at Gainesville Raceway. In addition to Gainesville, the only current track on the circuit where she has yet to claim a win is Bandimere Speedway in Denver.
Enders currently holds both the elapsed time and speed record for the NHRA Pro Stock class with bests of 6.450-seconds and 215.55 mph. The elapsed time record was set at the 2022 Gatornationals last March.
If Enders wins four events this season, she will surpass three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Sampey as the sport’s winningest female driver. Sampey currently has 46 wins while Enders has 43.
Following an impressive fourth place finish in 2022, Troy Coughlin Jr. will begin his fourth full season behind the wheel of the familiar yellow and black JEGS.com Camaro. Coughlin enjoyed a breakout season last year with back-to-back victories in Seattle and Topeka. Coughlin also went to final rounds in Phoenix, Reading and Las Vegas.
In addition to his two Pro Stock victories this year, the multi-faceted Coughlin has won in Top Alcohol Dragster, Super Comp, and Super Gas.
Coughlin’s father, Troy Sr., is a 15-time national event winner in Pro Stock, Pro Mod, and Super Gas. Including his uncles, John, Mike, and Jeg Jr., the Coughlin family has combined to win 130 national event titles.
Coughlin’s career bests in Pro Stock are 6.521-seconds and 211.93 mph, set last year in Sonoma and Gainesville, respectively.
Aaron Stanfield will also return to the Elite team for another season behind the wheel of the Janac Bros/JC3 Energy Camaro. Stanfield, the son of five-time Super Stock world champ Greg Stanfield, is coming off a season where he was the third-ranked driver in Pro Stock.
Last year, Stanfield earned Pro Stock wins in Phoenix, Bristol and the Fall Charlotte race to go with four runner-up finishes in Pomona, Epping, Norwalk, and Denver. Stanfield finished the season with a 38-16 record in elimination rounds.
Stanfield won back-to-back titles in the FlexJet Factory Stock Showdown class in 2020-21. He will continue to drive his Janac Bros. owned COPO Camaro in that class and will also continue to race in the Wright Trailers Top Dragster class.
All told, Stanfield has 21 career wins in Pro Stock, Factory Stock, Super Stock, and Top Dragster. Stanfield is also a previous winner in Gainesville, having claimed back-to-back Factory Stock wins in 2020-21.
Stanfield’s career bests in Pro Stock are 6.457-seconds and 213.47 mph, both set last year in Gainesville.
Bo Butner is a two-time NHRA world champion in Pro Stock (2017) and Comp Eliminator (2006). He joined the Elite team last season as the driver of the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Camaro.
Last season, Butner drove to a ninth-place finish in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Pro Stock standings. While he did not win a Pro Stock event last year, the multi-talented driver did earn a pair of victories in the Super Gas class in Indy and Reading.
Butner has 29 career national event victories including 11 in Pro Stock. He also has wins in Comp, Super Stock, Stock, Super Gas, and Super Street. Butner has also enjoyed success as a big-money bracket racer with a victory at the K&N Spring Fling Million in Las Vegas in 2021.
Butner won the Pro Stock title in Gainesville in 2019 and also won the Gatornationals in Stock Eliminator in 2013.
Butner’s career bests in Pro Stock are 6.475-seconds and 214.28 mph, set in Dallas (2015) and Gainesville (2017), respectively.
The Cuadra family including Fernando Sr., and his sons Fernando Jr. and Cristian, have returned to Elite Motorsports again this season with their three-car Corral Handcrafted Boots team. The Cuadra family will race Ford Mustangs under the Elite banner.
Fernando Sr. is a two-time national event runner-up with final-round appearances at the 2019 races in Reading and Pomona. Cristian Cuadra was also the runner-up to Enders at the 2022 Four-Wide event in Las Vegas.
The Cuadra family has career-best elapsed times of 6.515 (Fernando Jr.), 6.524 (Fernando Sr.) and 6.528 (Cristian) – all of them recorded at the 2022 Gainesville event. Their career-best speeds are 212.13 (Fernando Sr.), 211.43 (Cristian), and 210.73 (Fernando Jr.).
Cristian Cuadra went to the final round of the Four-Wide event in Las Vegas last season where he finished second to teammate Enders. He finished the season as the sport’s No. 8 ranked driver in Pro Stock.
Collectively, Elite drivers have combined to win 103 NHRA national event titles across all classes including 63 in the Pro Stock class.
New to the Elite Pro Stock team this year is Jerry Tucker, who recently upgraded his NHRA license in anticipation of his debut in Gainesville.
Tucker, of Lindsay, Okla., has spent the last 30 years racing everything from Sprint cars to Midgets and has also enjoyed success in drag racing. Tucker previously raced in the Top Sportsman class.
Tucker is expected to be one of the leading contenders for the NHRA Rookie of the Year award.
The Elite team is also welcoming Mason Wright as its newest driver in the Pro Mod class, which is also making its season debut in Gainesville.
Wright, of Odessa, Texas, is a graduate of the Top Sportsman class. He will be racing a supercharged Camaro as part of the Elite team. Justin Elkes of Modern Racing will serve as Wright’s crew chief this season.
Pro Mod will be showcased at 10 NHRA events this season beginning in Gainesville and it was recently announced that the class will be part of the NHRA on Fox Sports television broadcasts from each event.
Imagination 9 PR