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Mark Pawuk Sweeps NHRA Midwest Nationals with First Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Victory

Coming into eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier, Mark Pawk and his Empaco Equipment Dodge Drag Pak team picked up their first Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown victory of his career Sunday at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway.
On his way to victory, Pawuk, who was the No. 1 qualifier, set the national elapsed time record at 7.583 seconds and won $1,000 in the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Bounty Program by defeating the previous event winner, Aaron Stanfield.

In the finals, Pawuk took on Stephen Bell and his Stanfield Racing Engines Chevrolet COPO Camaro. Pawuk would have the starting line advantage and never trailed for a 7.638-second pass at 180.89 mph bettering Bell’s 7.651 at 179.47.
“It’s been 22 years since we started in Las Vegas. I finally got another Wally and that’s the reason why I came back to this sport. Don Schumacher brought me back to get another win. I’ve been close a lot of times, but I had the car today and I drove good,” Pawuk said. “It was a really great weekend for my entire team. We had a really great hot rod all day. I have to congratulate my entire team and David Barton who has worked so hard on this program and it’s paying off.  I drove really good this weekend and it’s just unbelievable. It’s pretty cool.”
En route to the finals, Pawuk defeated Connor Statler and his Janac Brothers Racing COPO Camaro with a 7.715-second pass at 179.49 mph bettering Statler’s 7.724 at 176.84. The first-round win gave Pawuk a bye in the second where he laid down the national record 7.583-second pass at 182.03 mph.
“We’ve been working so hard, you know, Ray Barton Racing Engines, David Barton, my son Kyle have all contributed,” Pawuk said. “We finally got my hot rod running pretty damn good and I never would have thought that we could have ran as fast as we did this morning.”

In the quarterfinals, Pawuk faced Del Holbrook and put up a 7.630-second pass at 181.40 while Holbrook didn’t complete the win. In a monster match-up in the semifinals, Pawuk faced off with points leader and bounty holder Stanfield. Pawuk would have a 7.665 at 180.38 to defeat Stanfield and his Stanfield Racing Engines COPO’s 7.688 at 178.61.
“I like getting that Flexjet money. Thank you Flexjet for supporting our class. It’s just absolutely awesome. (Flexjet executive) David Davies and I were teammates for a few years and he’s a great guy,” Pawuk said. “It’s just so nice for them to continue to support this class because this is a really cool class. It’s one that fans can relate to. You know, you got Dodges, you got Chevys and you got Fords.”
Bell, who has a win this year in Norwalk, Ohio, had a bye into the final round after defeating Anthony Berge, Lee Hartman and Nick Shirley in earlier rounds.
Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown competition will continue with the second-to-last race of the season at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas just outside of Dallas for the NHRA Texas Fall Nationals Oct. 12-15.

This story was originally published on October 2, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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