There are very few sports where contenders are eliminated, not because of their performance but the lack of funding to continue competing on a regular basis. Motorsports is generally the only sport with that common dilemma and it struck NHRA drag racing in the Pro Stock ranks when a top five competitor and team, Erica Enders-Stevens and Cagnazzi Racing, were forced to park the car for several events. However, an opportune meeting with a sponsor at the race track brought sponsorship for the rest of the season and Enders-Stevens will indeed be able to compete during the playoffs, which starts this coming weekend at Charlotte (source: Cagnazzi Racing).
Husky Liners will be the primary sponsor on Enders-Stevens’ Victor Cagnazzi owned Chevrolet Camaro for the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
Title contender before sponsor ills
Erica is one of the most popular drivers in drag racing. However, a major sponsor abruptly reneged on a deal that would have lasted through next season, so the team, which was in fourth place in the standings with a win, sat idly by while trying to muster up enough investment to race. Charter Communications had been a part-time sponsor on the car and did add one race to allow the team to defend their event win from a year ago at Brainerd, Minnesota (see related articles below). Still, that was strictly a one race deal.
Even someone as popular and historically important (first woman to win a Pro Stock race) as Enders-Stevens is hard pressed to find funding quickly. To keep herself in racing form, she tried a little Pro Mod racing at an ADRL meet in Memphis in early August.
However, a chance meeting occurred when Cagnazzi and Husky Liners President and founder Robert D. Tyler met up at Indy for the Factory Stock Showdown where they each had a car in the finals. Let Mr. Tyler tell it:
“We got to talking about Erica and I told Victor I felt she’s someone that should be out there,” Tyler said. “She’s so good for the sport. Of course, we’re always interested in getting more exposure for Husky Liners so after a few texts back and forth we struck this deal. I think it’s going to be great. I can’t wait to see how it goes.”
An amazing part of the story is the fact that Enders-Stevens missed six events this year and still was able to make the Top 10 and Countdown. That’s how good the team was and/or is.
The seeding reset for the playoffs will have Enders-Stevens in ninth, 100 points behind the Top seed Mike Edwards, who by the way is racing with a torn rotator cuff that needs surgery. In fact, there were unsubstantiated rumors Edwards might not be able to participate in the playoffs and possibly put Enders-Stevens in his seat, but that speculation was tenuous at best and unfounded.
Other competitors vying for the championship include last year’s champ Allan Johnson who starts second and multiple champion Jeg Coughlin in third. Also, just ahead of Erica are the Ken Black owned Chevrolet’s of Jason Line and Greg Anderson who have several championship between them.
In the end, one of the most historically significant drivers in the NHRA right now will be able to battle for the championship with the help of Husky Liners. Thanks to Victor Cagnazzi working up a marketing partnership with Mr. Tyler’s company, there are a lot of new fans of Husky Liners.