Pro Stock Standout Erica Enders Wins NHRA Four-Wide Nationals For Second Year In A Row

Pro Stock Standout Erica Enders Wins NHRA Four-Wide Nationals For Second Year In A Row

LAS VEGAS (April 3, 2022) – For the second year in a row, Pro Stock pilot Erica Enders emerged victorious today at the 22nd Annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. With nine wins at the facility, she now holds the record for most wins at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a distinction formerly held by NHRA Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher, who has eight wins to his name.

The four-time NHRA Pro Stock World Champion was consistently powerful throughout the day in her Elite Motorsports Melling Performance Chevrolet Camaro as she faced her opponents in the nontraditional four-wide format to capture her second Wally of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals

Stellar driving and precision tuning led the way to the winner’s circle as Enders secured the 35th Pro Stock win of her career. The fan-favorite started the day from the No. 4 qualifier position with a pass of 6.664 seconds at 206.01 MPH. Coming off of a holeshot loss in Gainesville while setting a world record, she admitted that her confidence was wavering before she made her way up to the starting line this morning.

“Going up there in the first round I wasn’t stellar on the tree but thankfully Mark Ingersoll (Crew Chief) and the guys had my car tuned up and we were able to finish second in that quad getting into the next round,” said Enders. “They have my Melling Performance hot rod tuned up for sure.”

In the first round of eliminations, Enders faced teammates Troy Coughlin Jr. and Fernando Cuadra Jr. as well as No. 13 qualifier Steve Graham. She and Troy Coughlin Jr. advanced to the second round of eliminations where they faced off against teammates Aaron Stanfield and Christian Cuadra in an all-Elite Motorsports quad. Notably, C. Cuadra raced his way into the second round of eliminations with a triple holeshot with a killer reaction time of .001, a feat that’s only occurred once before in the history of the sport.

Enders and C. Cuadra went to the final round with passes of 6.684 at 206.13 and 6.700 ET at 204.29, respectively.

In the final four-wide lineup of the day, Enders once again faced teammate C. Cuadra as well as Mason McGaha and 2021 Rookie Of The Year, Dallas Glenn. She defeated all opponents with a solid run of 6.668 at 206.32 MPH. C. Cuadra was the Runner-Up of the final quad with a pass of 6.702 at 196.13.

Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals

Reflecting on her record-setting number of wins at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Enders said, “Vegas has always been good to me even when I haven’t been good out there. We’ve still been able to turn on win lights consistently and it definitely means a lot to me.”

The back windshield of the Elite Motorsports Melling Performance Pro Stock car carried a special tribute to Pro Mod racer Scotty Oksas who passed away unexpectedly on March 28.

“He was a really big part of our Elite family. He was just a happy-go-lucky guy who would light up every room he walked in. I know that sounds cliche but the world’s going to be a darker place without Scotty. We have a greaseboard in our trailer that usually has things to do on it. All that was on there this weekend was, ‘Win Vegas for Scotty O,’ and I’m really thankful to have done just that. He was riding along with us this weekend and this one’s for the Oksas family.”

Next up, Enders will visit her hometown track in Houston for the NHRA SpringNationals April 22-24, which will be the final NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series event ever held at Houston Raceway Park.

CHE Precision Inc. Selected as Official High-Performance Valve Train Component Supplier for Ron Capps Motorsports

Ron Capps’ championship-winning crew chiefs Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli and John Medlen are highly-regarded as among the ‘best of the best in the world of NHRA Drag Racing, and as they work alongside the new team owner/driver to assemble the recently-launched Ron Capps Motorsports operation, they are intent on being ultra-selective when it comes to choosing performance partners. Today, the team is pleased to announce that it has added CHE Precision Inc. to its growing list of backers, with the Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based manufacturer joining RCM as the ‘official high-performance valve train component supplier’ of Capps’ 11,000-horsepower NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car.

The Antonelli/Medlen brain trust has relied on CHE Precision Inc. valve train components for twenty years and credits their high-quality products for helping them to win races and championships. As they embark on this new chapter with Capps as he ventures into the world of team ownership, they have the unique advantage of being able to hand-select which companies they would like to work with as they help to refine Capps’ new Funny Car team.

“Valvetrain components are crucial elements of any high-performance engine, let alone a nitromethane-burning fuel engine” explained Antonelli, a key player in the NAPA AUTO PARTS team’s 2021 NHRA Camping World Series championship campaign. “If you have anything fail in the valve train, it usually results in an explosion so it’s of the utmost importance to use the highest-quality, most-refined machined components available. John Medlen and I have worked with CHE and its staff for decades. We both have machining backgrounds, so we understand the importance of securing the best components.”

“The fans see it on the race track, but I’ve been around this sport long enough to know that the success starts with all of the hard work that our team puts in at the shop and the late nights in the machine shop, planning how to get better,” said Capps of the behind-the-scenes dedication that translates into finishing in the winner’s circle on Sundays. “I couldn’t imagine going to the starting line without the support and the components from CHE. There are reasons you win championships, and they’re a major part of that, and I’m thrilled they will be joining our team in 2022.”

While CHE Precision Inc. is a well-known name throughout the pits, with most of the top-ranked teams having relied on their products for many years, 2022 will mark the first time their NHRA involvement will be in the form of official sponsorship of a nitro team. CHE will be along for the ride as the reigning Funny Car world champions attempt to go back-to-back in capturing consecutive titles, with Capps pursuing his third overall (2016, 2021), and first as a team owner.

“We’ve been a fixture in the NHRA pro pits for many years, but more as a behind-the-scenes supporter,” explained Charlie Holguin, owner of CHE Precision Inc. “This will be our first time joining one of the nitro teams in an official capacity, and who better to do that with than Ron Capps and the NAPA team, the defending champions. We’re a family-owned company that is built on strong relationships, and we know that Ron, ‘Guido,’ and John Medlen share those same values. CHE has been in business for over 35 years, and we look forward to playing a key role in the success of Ron Capps Motorsports in its debut season and beyond, and are already looking toward the future as to how we can continue to grow with what is sure to be a powerhouse organization in the drag racing industry.”

About Ron Capps Motorsports
Established in 2021, Ron Capps Motorsports is a single-car NHRA Funny Car team owned and operated by reigning and two-time world champion Ron Capps. Headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., the team will make its on-track debut in 2022 and will compete on the 22-race NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit thanks to the support of NAPA AUTO PARTS.

Capps, who serves as both the owner and driver of his namesake operation, is the second-winningest Funny Car pilot in NHRA history with 67 wins in the category, and 68 overall (1 Top Fuel). The 2022 NHRA season marks Capps’ 28th year competing in the sport’s professional ranks.

For more information, follow @RonCapps28 on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Media Contact:
Allison McCormick
ABM Communications
AMcCormick@TheABMNetwork.com
(305) 764-5377

Elite Motorsports and CHE Precision Inc. sign multi-year deal for Race Team and Elite Performance Engine Shop for 2022 and beyond

Wynnewood, OK

Elite Motorsports and CHE Precision Inc. sign multi-year deal for Race Team and Elite Performance Engine Shop for
2022 and beyond.

Pro Stock World Champion Mega Team, Elite Motorsports, and the power behind it, Elite Performance Engine Shop
have linked up with long-standing industry leaders, CHE Precision Inc. for the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag
Racing Series.

“CHE Precision Inc. is a family-owned company built on hard work and strong partnerships and we are excited to
announce our new partnership with Elite Motorsports and Erica Enders Racing in 2022,” said Rochén Holguin,
Business Development and wife of the owner of CHE. “We look forward to supplying the team with the best high
performance valve train components on the market and spending time building a relationship on and off the track with
great people like the Enders, and the Freemans.

CHE Performance Inc. has 50 plus years in motorsports; from building racing engines to the operation of successful
race teams, and will bring so much experience and expertise to the already stacked Elite team with their own line of
precision valve train components. They are committed to producing high-quality parts more than ever as they involve
themselves with World Champion teams like Elite.

The partnership will not stop with a Major Associate sponsor on the house car driven by 4X NHRA Pro Stock World
Champion, Erica Enders. Elite Motorsports is the home to 4+ other full-time, touring Pro Stock Cars with countless
customers relying on the quality of parts and partners out of the Elite Performance shop.

“We can talk about the on-track, and in-shop success we plan to have, but as a lot of people know, what is more
special than wins in the racing industry is the people,” said Holguin. “The collaboration of incredible people in this
partnership is the icing on the cake. We are so excited to get to know the Enders, Freemans, and all of their teams
and customers as we grow this relationship.

“It takes a lot to make the wheels go ’round on this program, Richard Freeman of Elite Motorsports said. “We have a
handful of cars competing out of our stable next year as well as a long list of successful customers that rely on our
performance and partnerships here at Elite Motorsport and Elite Performance. Getting together with Roe and Charlie
will do nothing but elevate this program. Here at Elite, we strive for the best and settle for nothing less and that is
exactly what we are getting here with the folks at CHE. We look forward to a long-lasting and ever-growing
relationship that starts with a bang in 2022.”

Elite Motorsports competes in the NHRA Camping World Series with 18 stops along the tour of the US. For more
information on the series and to find a full schedule for the series that starts mid-February, visit www.nhra.com.

For more information on CHE Precision Inc., visit www.cheprecision.com

For more information on Elite Motorsport, visit www.elitemotorsportsllc.com

For more information on the team, contact Courtney Enders – courtney@elitehp.com

Sitting Targets

We ask a manufacturer and a material supplier to reveal the state of the art in valve seats. By Ian Bamsey with research by Stewart Mitchell

Claude Holguin is co-owner of CHE Precision, a company renowned for its race engine valve seats. We asked him: what needs to be considered in terms of the interaction between the valve seat and the cylinder head?

He says, “First of all, the valve seat is a critical engine component, as it is the foundation of the valvetrain. Seats with higher thermal conductivity will enable better heat transfer away from the valve to the cylinder head. For competition engines, we have come up with a proprietary copper-based seat used in an aluminum cylinder head; it seems to work the best for most race applications.

“Now, if you’re talking about a production engine with a cast-iron cylinder head, copper-based seats would not be recommended. As soon as you put the copper into the cast iron, it lessens its thermal conductivity benefit: the seat’s ability to transfer the heat is lost.

“With an aluminum head, no matter which copper alloy is used for the seat, the copper will absorb more temperature than the aluminum. Consequently, you have to think of the valve seat as a heat sink.

“The only place a valve can get rid of its heat are where it touches its seat and its guide. It is important for the seat to absorb that heat as best as possible – that’s why we continue to tell engine builders that they should really go deeper with seats, allowing more surface area to transfer the heat to the aluminum.

“No matter which copper allow you use, make sure you have a thick enough seat so that the valve’s life can be improved. A deeper seat not only gives you better thermal conductivity, it also provides better grip length; it has less tendency to fall out.

“Plus, it is best to have the seat at least 0.050-0.100 in larger in diameter than the valve head. If you have really high spring pressure – as is often the case in drag racing for example – the compression that closes the valve is pretty aggressive, and if there isn’t support around the edges, the whole thing is going to cave in or crack the OD of the seat.

“Often the cam designer is trying to obtain extreme acceleration and deceleration rates. The higher the rpm, the more rapidly the valve is coming down on the seat, and it can start to bounce. A copper material will give it more of a cushion, so that the impact isn’t so harsh on the valve. It’s like when a marble is dropped onto concrete and it jumps right back up into your hand. If you put a bit of cushion in there, it can control that bounce.

“Valve bounce is something that can happen to anybody, with any spring, whether it’s a motorcycle engine that’s going to 12,000 rpm or a 500 cu in a V8 going to 10,000 rpm. One problem with American V8s is that, because of the size of the valves they use, they can end up with an interlock.

“The problem is that the exhaust seat has combustion heat expanding it, while the intake seat has a cold charge coming in every fourth cycle to cool it. It is necessary to relieve the space between them so that the exhaust seat doesn’t push the intake seat out, which means you will have a leak that costs horsepower.

“The relief you need is a matter of trial and error. You can do a leak-down test when the engine is cold and you have all the compression in the world, but then when it gets hot there is no compression. That is when you realise the exhaust seat is pushing the intake seat out. If you take a close look with a glass, you can actually see that the exhaust seat has moved the intake seat out of the way.”

We asked if there is an appropriate ratio for seat depth as a function of diameter. “We don’t look at it as a set ration,” Holguin says. “We look at what is available.

“In most engines the exhaust seat is not able to go deeper, as the ledge to support the seat is quite thin. Also, the short side radius is small, so going deeper with the seat would shorten this radius and affect flow adversely.”

You mentioned that copper alloys provide a cushioning effect. Do you ever specify valve seat materials that don’t have this compressive aspect to them?

“No. If you consider the production engine seats that come out of the likes of Detroit, they are usually sintered. They are intended to be long-lasting, not performance based. This seat is a powdered metal. At one time we tried making them but there were still voids in the seat, even when using a 100 ton press.”

Can you do anything to a copper alloy to reduce the amount of expansion of the exhaust side to make sure the intake seat doesn’t get pushed out?

“Copper is copper. By itself, you can’t really do too much with it. However, when you alloy different materials with the copper, you have more flexibility to create what is needed. Over the years, in our company, we have used five different alloys for various seat applications. Some engine builders want the seat to simply be harder. Truth be told, you don’t necessarily want it harder. There is a big difference between hard and tough.

“You actually want the seat to be tougher rather than harder. You want it to stand up to the pressure, even if it contours a little bit, that isn’t the same problem as having it break like a piece of glass.

“When a material is tough, you can get a nick in it and the seat will still perform, and maybe lose only 2-3% of its strength. You can finish a race like that, but you certainly can’t finish a race when a seat has broken.

“That’s why we push for tougher alloys. When CHE creates alloys there are a couple of mills that will pour them for us – a bit of this and a dash of that – which gives us better workability. We are looking at it from the racers’ point of view, whereas Detroit is looking at getting 200,000 miles out of a seat. A drag racer might only need minutes of running time!”

What are the elements of the alloy that enhance toughness?

“That information can’t be revealed, but you would be surprised at the possible outcomes. What you put in the cake recipe and make the cake do different things. You can make the cake softer and more moist, or you can make it a little more dense and longer lasting. There is always a trade-off.”

Material Facts

Understandably Holguin won’t reveal the recipes his company uses for its well-respected valve seats. So we asked Dave Krus of Materion Performance Alloys which materials his company supplies to other companies making race engine valve seats?

“Copper beryllium has been the industry standard for a very long time,” Krus replies. “The first record I can find of [Materion Supplying] it for valve seats was in 1984; many teams still use it. Primarily we supply two copper-beryllium alloys – one is a high-strength alloy used for intake seats, the other is a higher conductivity alloy that has a better strength retention at temperature, which is used for exhaust seats.

“Another material we offer for seats is PerforMet alloy, which is the copper-based material we are now offering for piston rings and cylinder lines [see Grid in RET 115, December/January 2019].”

Beryllium-free PerforMet is a nickel-silicide strengthened copper alloy containing (nominally by weight) 7% nickel, 2% silicon and 1% chromium, with the rest being copper. Krus says, “PerforMet has good strength retention at temperature. It is harder and stronger than high-conductivity copper beryllium, and is more thermally conductive and has better strength retention at high temperature than high-strength copper beryllium.

“There are advantages to using one material that works well for both intake and exhaust seats, so for that reason as well some prefer PerforMet. It is now used quite a bit in NASCAR and NHRA for intake and exhaust seats. It does seem advantageous, especially with respect to durability on the exhaust side.

“Our Alloy 10X copper-beryllium alloy has the best strength retention at temperature of all the copper alloys we produce. It was originally produced for use in nuclear generators. It has a 480,000 Pa yield strength and 5% elongation at 800 F/427 C.

“Copper alloys generally lose their strength and get softer as the temperature rises. Eventually, they also will go through a ductility minimum, meaning they become more brittle at first then eventually become more ductile.

“The reason we decided to use Alloy 10X was because somebody using our C17510 high-conductivity copper beryllium alloy for valve seats was suffering cracking on the exhaust side. The phenomenon is called heat checking, where tiny cracks are generated by overheating on the surface of the component.

“That was about 10 years ago. I offered them Alloy 10X and the problem went away. However, it hasn’t taken off like we thought it would. Some of the engine builders who have used say they can overwhelm even its properties. If you get any valve seat material hot enough, Alloy 10X included, the seat doesn’t necessarily suffer cracking but recession occurs simply because the material softens. That said, we still have some loyal users who say they can’t find anything better for exhaust seats.”

We asked Krus: what is the phenomenon that occurs when the metallurgy starts to break down? “We call it over-ageing,” he replies. “In its soft state, before the final heat treatment, the metal is commonly hot-worked and/or cold-worked into its form and then we heat-treat it.

“Ageing of copper beryllium and many other copper alloys involves holding the material at a controlled elevated temperature for an extended period of time then the material will reach a peak in strength, and it will start to come down after that. The material’s ductility changes in the opposite way. At its peak strength the material is at its least ductile.

“Those are two separate phenomena. One question is, ‘What are the properties of a material within minutes of raising it to the component operating temperature?’ The other question is, ‘Does long-term exposure at the operating temperature cause permanent changes in the material’s properties?’

“Take a C17200 seat and a PerforMet seat, for example. At room temperature, C17200 alloy is one of the strongest copper alloys available, with 25% higher yield strength than PerforMet. Hold both seats at a temperature normally seen in racing intake seats, below something like 300 C. Within minutes, both materials are softer and weaker than they are at room temperature, but no permanent changes will happen even with very long exposures.

“Now take them to 400 C. Again, both are softer than at room temperature and 300 C. However, at this point, the C17200 seat is now softer than the PerforMet seat. Hold the two at 400 C for several hours and the C17200 seat will become progressively softer, while the PerforMet seat’s hardness will not change.

“Hold for long enough at 400 C, and when the two samples are cooled back to room temperature, the PerforMet seat’s hardness will be the same as it was, while the C17200 seat will be significantly softer than it was originally at room temperature. The C17200 seat has over-aged after a long time at 400 C; the PerforMet seat has not.

“For applications such as Top Fuel drag racing, some teams use the strongest alloys they can to avoid recession in the short term. They usually destroy the valve seats in a very short time anyway, so long-term exposure is not one of their main considerations. On the other hand, it is ideal if the exhaust valve seat has high conductivity, as that allows you to distribute the heat away from the combustion chamber into the head. That reduces hot-spots.”

What are some of the characteristics of the alloys that prevent excessive softening, and what are the trade-offs? “In order to have some strength at high temperature, you need a relatively lean alloy with fewer alloying elements in it,” Krus says. “It’ll then have a higher conductivity. Alloy C17200 was used traditionally as a copper beryllium for intake seats, and C17510 for exhaust valve seats; C17200 has a 1.8% beryllium and the C17510 about 0.3%.

“With the lower beryllium content, you have a higher conductivity but less strength at room temperature. PerforMet doesn’t contain any beryllium, it uses a different hardening alloy.

“You need something in a valve seat alloy that allows it to retain strength at temperature, or you run the risk of recession. C17510 and C17200 are cold-worked and then the material is taken into heat treatment to achieve the desired properties and internal structure.”

What kind of structure are you looking for, and how far up the scale of heat treatment do you go?

“Because we are talking about different hardening mechanisms, it gets a bit challenging to isolate the exact level to which the hardening process needs to be completed for every valve seat application. With copper beryllium, a coherent structure forms hard particles that strengthen the material – because they are coherent with the matrix – but the lattice spacing is smaller in this form.

“That means the particles pull the lattice together, and that puts the entire component in compression. Therefore, when you try to stress them, you have to overcome that first before you get to the zero point.

“For PerforMet, the strengthening is a combination of shrinking the lattice spacing and the formation of hard, nickel-silicide particles. The lattice strain is less than with C17200, which explains the room temperature strength difference. The nickel silicides, however, provide wear resistance and strengthening that is more resistant to temperature changes. You might say the alloy looks a bit like a composite material in that way.”

Is additive manufacturing used for valve seats? “We are looking at additive manufacturing,” Krus says. “Most of our alloys are produced by melting and casting, followed by metalworking and heat treatment, sometimes in multiple steps. The process is necessary to get the properties, and it needs to be done before the material is ready to be machined into components such as seats.

“The beauty of additive manufacturing is efficient production of near-net shapes. If the additively manufactured component requires metalworking or significant heat treatment after forming, that efficiency is wasted.

“It is difficult. We are thinking about ways to trick the system, although we haven’t perfected any yet.”

So it is that the technology of valve seats continues to progress behind the scenes, while on the stage of competition events it is the engine builders who hark the advice of Holguin and Krus who are most likely to find success.

Read more in Race Engine Technology – Issue 118

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