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Lee Hartman Runs to Second Consecutive No. 1 at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Auto Imagery/Gary Nastase photo

For the first time this season the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series recorded back-to-back No. 1 qualifiers when Lee Hartman posted the quickest run of the weekend in his Hartman Racing Chevrolet COPO Camaro today at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Hartman amazed the capacity crowd on hand at Bristol Dragway with a blistering run in the heat of 7.897 seconds at 174.21 mph. This was Hartman’s second career No. 1 qualifier on the heels of posting the quickest qualifying time at the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 Nationals outside of Chicago, two weeks ago. Hartman raced to the final round at that race losing the win to point leader Stephen Bell. Today, Hartman was excited with the surge in performance going into eliminations.

“I was just telling my guys when I came back, I wish I could make a pass like that every time,” said Hartman. “There is nothing like seeing the sky when you do a wheel stand and your Camaro’s nose is in the air. You’re looking at your peripheral vision making sure the car is still going straight. As long as we’re running good, we’ll keep this thing going.”
 
Hartman was sitting No. 6 going into the final round of qualifying. The jump in the qualifying standings was something Hartman’s team was working towards throughout the sessions.
 
“In the first qualifying session we went out there and tried to get down the track and we had a .122 60-foot roll off the line there and we felt it would take a little bit more,” said Hartman. “We’ve been slowly easing our way up there. Stanfield Racing Engines has done a great job with just tuning the car and prepping it so that it is ready to go. I can’t say enough how good those guys have been to me and how good this car has turned around.”
 
In the first qualifying session the top four Friday finishers made their best runs and coming out of the second session last night the top four comprised. Provisional No. 1 Scott Libersher, from Wilmington Ill. and his COPO Camaro posting a 7.924-second, 173.76 mph run. Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown point leader Bell was No. 2 followed by David Janac and Tony Scott Jr., to round out the top four provisional finishers.
 
When qualifying concluded today Libersher was No. 2 with his time from Friday and the remaining top drivers all held form on their Friday runs.  Gatornationals winner Mark Pawuk finished Friday No. 12 with a 15.247 pass and he jumped to No. 9 with an improved 8.089 second pass today. Las Vegas Four-Wide winner Ricky Hord was No. 13 on Friday with a 15.376 second pass and today moved up to No. 7 with a solid 8.050 second pass in the heat.
 
Bell, the most recent race winner will enter eliminations with the Flexjet $1,000 bounty on his Chevrolet Camaro. He will face Kim Shirley in a No. 3 versus No. 12 match up. Bell’s quickest pass of 7.940 seconds should give the two-time 2024 Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown winner a decent advantage over Shirley’s 8.491 second best pass.
 
The pack grandstands at Bristol Dragway enjoyed seeing quick and fast Flexjet Factory Showdown Series action. Final eliminations will continue tomorrow starting at 2:05 p.m. EST from Bristol Dragway. For the No. 1 qualifier the fan reaction all weekend was a thrill.
 
“It’s awesome to see all the fans out there,” said Hartman. “It’s just amazing because I can still remember the day I sat up there and thought someday man I’d like to drive one of those cars. It’s just exciting out there.”

This story was originally published on June 8, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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