After capturing back-to-back championships with Erica Enders in 2014 and 2015, Elite Motorsports surprised the NHRA Pro Stock world after the 2015 season when it announced it would switch from Chevrolet cars and motors to Mopar/Dodge power and car bodies for 2016.
Wednesday, Elite Motorsports once again surprised the Pro Stock ranks when it announced it will part ways with Mopar/Dodge after just one season.
“I want to thank everyone at Mopar and Dodge, from the top executives to the engineers on to the people helping us at the races for their hard work and dedication,” Elite Motorsports owner Richard Freeman said in a statement. “My guys should be commended. They basically worked around the clock with pretty much zero days off for the entire season, busting their butts to try and give Erica and Jeggy competitive racecars. We look forward to a fresh start into 2017.”
Added Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global: “We thank the entire Elite Motorsports team, including owner Richard Freeman and drivers Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin Jr. for serving as superb ambassadors of our brand. “The drivers and team handled themselves with professionalism and class, constantly working hard to break into the winner’s circle. We commend them for their dedication and never-quit attitude, and wish the team, Erica and Jeg nothing but success in their future endeavors.”
With Enders winning the championship the last two seasons, and with five-time champion Coughlin joining the team in a full-time capacity, expectations were high for both drivers in their Dodge Darts in 2016.
Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, including NHRA mandating electronic fuel injection and doing away with hood scoops, Elite just never could regain the supremacy and domination it had the previous two years.
Enders finished the season ninth in the standings and failed to win even one race after winning six in 2014 and nine in 2016. Still, she wouldn’t trade the experience.
“Mopar has been wonderful to work with,” Enders said. “It seems we were chasing it all year and never really got the cars where we could challenge for wins.
“Hopefully, we can start writing a new chapter and everyone will move forward into a better situation, including Team Mopar. We wish them nothing but the best because they’ve been great partners.”
Coughlin can relate to Enders’ struggles. He also failed to win a race and finished tenth in the standings, but still welcomed working with Mopar/Dodge.
“We really wanted to light up the scoreboards this year with our Magneti Marelli offered by Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart but we couldn’t quite get it running where it needed to be,” Coughlin said. “Like Richard, I salute everyone at Mopar and thank them for the effort. We wish them well in 2017 and beyond.”
Elite Motorsports has not yet announced which manufacturer it will align itself with for 2017, but a return to Chevrolet is likely.