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Pawuk Looks to Continue Hot Streak at Winternationals with Another Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Win

Veteran driver and team owner Mark Pawuk opened the season with an emotional win at the NHRA Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals racing to his second career Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series victory. The win was sweeter because he was driving a Dodge Drag Pak designed to honor long-time friend and NHRA Hall of Famer Don Schumacher, who passed away over the off-season. For Pawuk, a long-time NHRA Pro Stock competitor turned Flexjet Factory Stock racer, the win was meaningful on a variety of fronts. He will get his chance to continue his win streak as the fan-favorite series makes its debut on the West Cost at the NHRA Winternationals, at In-N-Out Dragway in Pomona, Calif., March 22-24.

“The Gatornationals is one of the biggest races in the NHRA and I have always wanted to win in Gainesville,” said Pawuk, from the Gatornationals winner’s circle. “To get that win and to have Don’s name on the race car was special. Don was a great friend and competitor. This class has a lot of tough drivers and cars, so anytime you can turn on a win light that’s a big deal. Racing Stephen (Bell) in the final was tough. I knew I would need to get off the line quick and hopefully hold him off. I can’t wait to get to Pomona and show off for the California fans who have never seen this class.”

In that final against Bell, Pawuk posted low ET of the event – a masterful 7.745 seconds at 177.23 mph. Both Pawuk and Bell got good jumps off the starting line, but Bell’s Chevrolet COPO Camaro spun the tires and Pawuk pulled away for the victory and the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series bounty. Bell held off three opponents throughout the race day, but Pawuk was able to get the win light and the $1,000.

“I was excited to get the win and then I knew I got the bounty on top of that which is pretty cool,” said Pawuk. “I love the Flexjet bounty program because it just makes the racing a little more exciting. I know I will have the bounty for the Winternationals and I want to hang onto it for as long as possible.”

With the absence of Aaron Stanfield and David Barton, the two previous Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown world champions, the field is wide open in 2024. Pawuk has the points lead after the first race, but 2023 championship runner-up Bell is right behind him. The top five in points is rounded out by David Janac, Doug Hamp, and Scott Libersher. Janac escaped a scary top end incident during the second round of the Gatornationals when his Ford Mustang Cobra Jet spun at the top end and contacted the guardwall. He is on the entry list for the Winternationals and a strong performance this weekend would be an impressive feat. Every driver will be looking to get the first Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown win at the historic In-N-Out Dragstrip at Pomona.

Qualifying for the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown begins Friday, March 22 with sessions at 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. (PST). A final qualifying session will take place on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. (PST) with elimination rounds in the afternoon and carrying over into Sunday with final eliminations scheduled for 3:50 p.m. (PST).

This story was originally published on March 20, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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