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Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Title Chase Wide Open in 2024

The Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown will begin its season at historic Gainesville Raceway, March 7-10, for the 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. The heated competition between Chevrolet COPO Camaros, Ford Mustang Cobra Jets and Dodge Mopar Challenger Drag Paks will be front and center at a total of 10 NHRA national events in 2024.
 
After an off-season of change, the look of the field will change dramatically as previous series champions have moved on to new challenges. Last season, Aaron Stanfield took top honors, but the multi-time champion is stepping away from full-time competition in the class along with 2022 champion David Barton, who will focus on his engine development business. Both former champions will be around the class, but their full-time absence will open the door for other drivers.
 
“Aaron has been dominant in this class for a lot of years, and he is a great friend. We had a fun battle last year for the championship,” said Stephen Bell, the 2023 Flexjet championship runner-up. “I think this year we are going to see a lot of new faces in the winner’s circle and the championship will be up for grabs. I can’t wait to get to the Gatornationals and get the season started. We have done some testing but until you get into competition you don’t really know what you have.”

With the Gatornationals absence of Barton, the winner of the Nevada Nationals Factory Stock Showdown title, the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Bounty of $1,000 shifts to the reigning champion but Stanfield is also not on the entry list, so championship runner-up Bell will carry the added pressure of starting his championship chase with a figurative bullets-eye on his COPO Camaro.
 
“I love the Flexjet bounty program and I think it adds a lot to the class,” said Bell. “I had the bounty last year after I won the Norwalk national event and it was pretty cool. This class has so many tough drivers and good cars I think you’ll see the bounty on a lot of drivers this season.”
 
Last year Joe Welch took home the win at the Gatornationals, his third Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown national event win, running low ET and Top Speed of the race. The win was special for the racer from Stevensville, Michigan. Turning on five win lights and outrunning Stanfield for the win was quite an accomplishment.
 
“I get to the finals so few times, you have to give it all you got,” recalled Welch after the victory. “That last run – it was straight as an arrow. Aaron’s a good friend of mine and a great competitor. I just knew I had to give him my best. The chips were going to fall where they may and this time the win light came on for me.”
 
This season with ten races spread across the country the competitors in the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series will have their hands full chasing the championship. In 2023 the series saw seven different drivers hoist the infamous Wally trophy for winning an NHRA national event. Lenny Lottig took home three national event wins to lead the class. Veteran racer Mark Pawuk picked up his first win in the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown era and Jesse Alexandra won the U.S. Nationals for the second time in the hyper competitive class. Pawuk and Alexandra will be back in action in 2024 and each is looking to pick up more wins and possibly the Flexjet championship trophy.
 
“Winning the U.S. Nationals again was great. The field was huge in the Flexjet Factory Showdown with lots of real heavy-hitting competitors. There were a lot of guys that could have done this job. The Lord was with me, and it is just crazy how it all came together,” said Alexandra, after the Indy win. “Winning out here against these kinds of competitors. Stephen Bell is like, ‘The Guy,’ for me. He’s so good all around. He’s so good on the tree. He’s such a good competitor. He drives so well. We have gone back and forth. I mean when I can race with him just to be on the same track with him is an honor. I tell him that all the time. He’s a great, great competitor.”
 
Qualifying for the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown season opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals begins Friday, March 8 with sessions at 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. Elimination rounds will take off on Saturday and Sunday with final eliminations scheduled for 3:50 p.m. on Sunday, March 10.
 
2024 FLEXJET NHRA FACTORY STOCK SHOWDOWN SCHEDULE
March 7-10                 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fl.
March 21-24               64th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, Calif.
April 12-14                  24th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Las Vegas
May 17-19                   24th annual Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Chicago
June 7-9                      23rd annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.
June 27-30                  18th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio
Aug. 15-18                   42nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn.
Aug. 28-Sept. 2           70th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis
Sept. 12-15                  39th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa.
Sept. 27-29                  13th annual NHRA Midwest Nationals, St. Louis

This story was originally published on March 7, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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