For only the second time in Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown history, Chevrolet COPO Camaros, Ford Cobra Jets and Dodge Challenger Drag Paks will battle it out across four lanes at this weekend’s Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway just outside of Charlotte.
Coming off a victory at the season opening Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Florida, Joe Welch enters the Four-Wide Nationals not only with the points lead but a national speed record to his name and the $1,000 bounty on his back. He’ll have some added obstacles this weekend, Welch has never raced in the four-wide format.
“This will be my first time racing four-wide. I’ve been asking my friends what to expect. I don’t want to get clocked out up there,” Welch said. “I’ll have to get my game face on. But I’m looking forward to it, a new experience. I’m sure it puts you on your toes and I’ll probably struggle a little bit. I’m 74-years old, so change doesn’t come easy. I’m looking forward to it.”
Welch and his Joe Welch Racing Dodge Drag Pak picked up the $1,000 bounty at the Gatornationals through the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Bounty Program after defeating previous race winner Aaron Stanfield in his Janac Brothers Chevrolet COPO Camaro during the finals. Welch will now carry the bounty until he is beaten, with $1,000 being added each race weekend he goes undefeated.
“When you have the bounty on you, it’s exciting, everyone is gunning for you. It’s kind of fun. Having a bullseye on our back, gives everyone a little more motivation,” said Welch, who set the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown national speed record at 185.18 mph during the Gatornationals finals. “We have some things to work on with the car, some suspension work. Found some things in Gainesville but we hoped for the best and it worked out for us.
“I didn’t really think about the national record until after the race. Speed is an indication of horsepower. Most of our speed came from us getting the attitude of the car right. We worked hard to get our nose down and make it more aerodynamic,” Welch said. “Of course, you want to have your name on any record out there, I just wish there was more weight behind it with points or something.”
Eager to get back into his COPO Camaro is Stanfield, who ended the 2022 season on a strong note and has carried over that momentum. He’s currently second in points after earning the No.1. qualifier at the Gatornationals before finishing runner-up to Welch.
“We learned a lot last year racing four-wide and I think that will help us this weekend,” said Stanfield. “It has been a while since the Gatornationals and I am looking forward to getting back in the seat. I think the bar has been raised in this class and there are a lot of cars out here that can win a race at any time.”
Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown will kick-off at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway with qualifying sessions Friday at 3:15 and 6:00 p.m. and Saturday at 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Eliminations will begin Saturday at approximately 5:15 p.m. with the second round picking up Sunday at 1:20 p.m.