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Barton Set to Defend Factory Stock Showdown Title

Pep Boys NHRA Nationals

The Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown once again begins its season at historic Gainesville Raceway, March 10-12 for the 54th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. After a lengthy off season, 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 2023. Last season David Barton dominated the end of the season to capture the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown championship winning two of the final three races of the season.

“It’s been a productive off-season for our team. We took some time to celebrate the championship, but we also made some improvements heading into 2023. We want to start this season at the same high-performance level we left with at the end of last year,” said Barton, who collected three wins in five final round appearances in 2022. “There’s heated competition in this category, we may not get enough credit for that, but there are guys out here going after it every weekend, not just one or two either but everybody. Now, this year, with 10 races to prove who deserves the title, it’s going to be even more exciting. I know I’m looking forward to it and where better to kick things off than a historic track like Gainesville.”

In his 2022 championship campaign, Barton snagged a runner-up finish at the second event, but it wasn’t until mid-summer in Bristol, Tennessee that he would pick up his first victory and go on a run of four consecutive final round appearances. He would pick up his final two victories of the season at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and at his hometown race in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Barton earned the championship with a narrow point lead over veteran Bill Skillman who also had three victories in his Ray Skillman Auto Ford Cobra Jet.

Besides chasing down and hoping to take the series crown from Barton, drivers will also be gunning for the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Bounty Program $1,000 from 2021 champion and winner of the season ending Texas NHRA FallNationals, Aaron Stanfield. The program will see a “bounty” placed on the head of the previous event winner. As the most recent winner Stanfield is now being hunted by the rest of the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown field. If a competitor can beat Stanfield at this weekend’s Gatornationals, that driver will receive the $1,000 prize. If Stanfield takes home the win in Gainesville, his bounty is upped to $2,000.

“The 2022 season was a bit shaky for us. We had success towards the end with a pair of runner-up finishes and then the win to close it all out, but the first half was a bit rocky,” said Stanfield who is a two-time class champion. “We’ve been working hard in the shop to carryover our end of season success and hopefully get things started on the right foot in 2023. It might play into our favor that we have a pair of extra races but that might be true for everyone. It’s definitely going to be another good year with high-level competition, you can be sure of that.”

Qualifying for the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown season opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals begins Friday with sessions at 12:45 and 3:30 p.m. and continues Saturday with a third and final session at 11:15 a.m. before eliminations kick-off at 2:55 p.m. Eliminations are set to conclude Sunday with second round at 11:50 a.m. and the finals slated for 2:20 p.m.

This story was originally published on March 9, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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