Mark Pawuk started the iconic Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals with a historic run in the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown, making the quickest and fastest run in the history of the class. Pawuk lit up the scoreboard with a 7.608 second pass at 183.15 mph to set both ends of the factory stock class record.
The entire session was stacked with strong runs from the Chevrolet COPO Camaros, Ford Cobra Jets and Dodge Challenger Drag Paks entries. The top eight qualifiers each made runs that were quicker than the previous quickest run ever. For Pawuk, driver of the Empaco Dodge Drag Pak, running to the No. 1 qualifier position was a pleasant surprise and reward for his team’s hard work in the off-season.
“I am loving it. We tested and worked hard this winter,” said Pawuk, who last year recorded a No. 2 qualifier at the Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. “These guys have done a great job. To be honest with you we didn’t think we could run this fast. I was kind of shocked. The conditions are exceptional. We have our Dodge Drag Pak flying. Hopefully we can keep this car rolling. I have set both ends of the record in Pro Stock and it would be cool to do that in Factory Stock also. It would be an honor to possibly be the first guy in the 50s.”
This was Pawuk’s third career No. 1 qualifier and his first since Indy 2019. The qualifying session has 22 competitors running for one of the sixteen qualifier positions. Reigning Factory Stock world champion Aaron Stanfield qualified his Janac Brothers Chevrolet Camaro No. 4 with an impressive 7.699 second run. He will face Anthony Troyer in the first round with the bounty of $2,000 on the line. Stanfield was also impressed with the performance of the entire category, but it was Pawuk who summed up the feeling of almost every racer who made a career run.
“I could tell it was on a great run,” said Pawuk. “We have been struggling in low gear and that run just picked the front end up. It accelerated through low gear. I knew we were on a pretty good run. Running that fast was something I didn’t expect.”
Due to rain on Friday and cooling temperatures today there was only one qualifying session. Final eliminations will begin tomorrow at Gainesville Raceway.
First Round Match-Ups
No. 1 Mark Pawuk vs. No. 16 Carl Tasca
No. 2 Tripp Carter vs. No. 15 Alan Scruggs
No. 3 Warren Welcher vs. No. 14 Dennis Chaisson
No. 4 Aaron Stanfield vs. No. 13 Anthony Troyer
No. 5 Bill Skillman vs. No. 12 Chuck Watson
No. 6 Ricky Hord vs. No. 11 David Davies
No. 7 Stephen Bell vs. No. 10 Lenny Lottig
No. 8 David Barton vs. No. 9 David Janac