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Bristol Dragway Set for Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Excitement

Stephen Bell (top) races Lee Hartman in Route 66 Nationals, Auto Imagery/Gary Nastase photo

The Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series will return to one of the most historic drag strips in the country this weekend, Bristol Dragway, nestled in the Tennessee mountains and known as one of the quickest racing surfaces in the country. For the high-performance Chevrolet COPO Camaros, Dodge Drag Paks and Ford Cobra Jets that make up the factory-backed class it will be an intense weekend of high horsepower and low elapsed times as drivers from across the country try to reel in point leader and two-time 2024 winner Stephen Bell from Shreveport, La.
 
“We are off to a good start for sure, but we want to keep turning on those win lights,” said Bell, the most recent winner at the Route 66 Nationals. “We got a great win in Chicago and we would like to make it two races in a row but the competition is so tough I don’t know if we can do that. We are sure going to try in Bristol this weekend.”

Bell was the series runner-up in 2023 to Aaron Stanfield, who is the defending Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Flexjet winner. Stanfield is not entered to defend his title, so the door is open for Bell or one of the other top Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown competitors to pick up the win. Bell will have to fend off the charge from veteran driver and Gatornationals winner Mark Pawuk as well as Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals winner Ricky Hord. Another driver to watch out for is Winternationals runner-up David Davies II driving the Mission 22 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. Davies has continued to improve his operation and is a favorite to earn his first Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series win this season.

“We have made a lot of improvements this season and we came close to getting the Winternationals win,” said Davies. “In Chicago we only made one full pull and that was in the first round of eliminations. The track was tricky for everyone, but we did learn a few things. I can’t wait to get to Bristol and get this Mission 22 Dodge on the track. We have some great competitors in this class and Stephen and Mark have been the class of the field so far.”

Bell will be racing with the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown bounty on his back for the third time in 2024. He opened the season as the bounty holder only to have Pawuk win the $1,000 on his way to the Gatornationals victory. Pawuk once again took the $1,000 during the Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals getting to the stripe in front of Bell in the second round. This weekend Bell will be looking to win back-to-back races and increase the bounty to $2,000 heading into the Norwalk Summit Racing Equipment Nationals, June 28-30.
 
“The Flexjet Bounty program is a lot of fun,” said Bell. “I haven’t done a great job of hanging on to it but winning back-to-back races is very tough in this series. The competition top to bottom is outstanding. Even beyond guys like Mark and Ricky, who have won races, there are guys like Lee Hartman, David Davies, Scott Libersher and the list goes on. I love racing against all these guys because they bring out the best in me.”
 
Currently Bell (374 points) holds a 30-point lead over Pawuk at the top of the Flexjet point standings. The top five is rounded out by David Janac (-90), Hord (-120) and Libersher (-158). With qualifying points and 20-points per round up for grabs an early exit by Bell and strong finish by any of these drivers at the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals could tighten up the points at the halfway mark of the season.
 
“After Bristol we will still have five national events left on the schedule,” said Pawuk. “It is anyone’s championship to win and there are a lot of guys who can get the job done. I want to get back in the winner’s circle and Bristol is our next shot. We should have good weather and a good track. That is a great combination.”
 
Qualifying for the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series will begin with two sessions on Friday, June 7 followed by a final qualifier on Saturday, June 8. The quickest 16 Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge competitors will race through four rounds of competition looking to collect an iconic Wally trophy at the fifth Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series national event of 2024.

This story was originally published on June 5, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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