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Stephen Bell Wins Route 66 Nationals, Second Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Event of 2024

Auto Imagery/Gary Nastase photo

Over three days at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals Stephen Bell kept his focus on winning another Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown national event. Through three qualifying session Bell made solid runs and entered race day as the No. 6 qualifier but leading up to race day the event belonged to No. 1 qualifier Lee Hartman. It was fitting that Bell and Hartman would meet in the final with Bell taking the win.
 
“Holy cow it was a great weekend,” said Bell. “It was my son Charlie’s high school graduation, and we made a decision early in the year I was going to get a plane. I was going to come in and qualify, go to graduation, bring the girls back and we were going to see what happens. You can’t even make this up. Back and forth and having your son, my best friend in the whole world, graduating high school and we got to win a race with my girls here. This is the best day ever.”

Auto Imagery/Gary Nastase photo

Bell, the Winternationals winner, had a competition bye in the first round when his opponent Del Holbrook did not make the call for the first round. Bell took full advantage of the single running 7.923 seconds at 173.32 mph to get a solid set up for the second-round race against Tony Scott Jr.
 
In the quarterfinals against Scott, Bell grabbed a starting line reaction time advantage and never trailed in the race, winning with a 7.868 second pass against Scott’s 7.878 second run. His quick time gave him lane choice over Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown point leader Mark Pawuk in the semifinals.
 
With the points lead on the line, Bell took his third win light of the day driving around Pawuk in the semifinals. Pawuk was first off the line but immediately lost traction and opened the door for Bell. Bell made another solid run lighting up the scoreboard with a winning time of 7.906 seconds.
 
While Bell was working his way to the final Hartman, the No. 1 qualifier, was tackling three tough competitors on the other side of the elimination ladder. Hartman outran Michael Lloyd in the first round and then dispatched veteran Scott Libersher in the second round. In the semis he faced most recent winner, Ricky Hord. He took out the Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals winner to collect the $1,000 Flexjet Bounty. Hartman made the quickest pass of the event to grab the bounty and win over Hord. His 7.868 second run at 170.04 mph outpaced Hord’s 8.055 second run. When Hord launched off the starting line, he carried the front end of his Camaro for an extended period robbing him of valuable seconds.

The final round was all Bell, who took a starting line advantage .028 to .064 and never trailed winning with a 7.871 second elapsed time in front of Hartman’s 9.749 second pass. The win was Bell’s sixth career Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series national event win.

“Lee was the class of the field,” said Bell. “Qualified No. 1, I think he was low E.T. almost every session, and I told my crew guys Dean and Dylan, look we don’t have anything to do but roll the dice. It was just a great call. Dean and Dylan did an incredible job and the guy in the seat ain’t so bad either.”
 
The Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Series will return to action June 7-9 at Bristol Dragway.

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

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