In a huge step in the right direction, the “Big 3” automakers have returned to factory-supported (at least in some degree) drag racing, not in all-out formats like Pro Stock or the fuel classes, but in the exciting, wheels-up world of Stock Eliminator. While most casual fans race to the pits as soon as the pro classes finish, your hardercore race fans will congregate in clusters in the stands to watch and discuss the grassroots sportsman racers mowing each other down with killer reaction times and cars so consistent the Atomic Clock in Colorado often consults them for updates. It is these fans to which the Factory Stock Showdown most appeals.
The Showdown, held at four events in 2015–the biggest of which is the venerable U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis–consists of COPO Camaros, Cobra Jet Mustangs and Drag Pak Dodge Challengers. The factory-built hot rods feature both naturally-aspirated and blown combinations–including Viper V10’s for the Mopar contingent–as powerplant options, so the shootout ladder is divided and the winners of each group face each other to crown the Factory Stock Showdown Champion. This year’s field boasted 14 naturally-aspirated entries and 15 supercharged cars, each of which look just like their showroom counterparts from the stands, with the obvious exceptions of track-only wheel and tire combos, parachutes, and wheelie bars, which is why this form of racing appeals to a broader audience and builds an increased interest at the grassroots level.
On the naturally-aspirated side of the ladder, legendary sportsman driver Bo Butner wheeled his gorgeous red Mustang through the field with both consistent lights and strong numbers from his Butner Auto Sales-sponsored hot rod, taking out fellow Ford runner Fred Henson in round one, the Mopar entry of Jonathan Allegrucci in round two, and Joseph Welch’s COPO entry in the third frame. In the naturally-aspirated finals, Butner faced off with engine builder David Barton’s Mopar entry and won by the narrowest of margins: 0.0004-seconds, or approximately one inch!
In the supercharged eliminator, Kevin Skinner and his sinister black CJ Mustang had a first round bye before taking out Steven Ficacci’s Mustang in round two and Kenneth Miele in round three, setting up a final round showdown with yet another engine builder in Chris Holbrook in his Mustang. In what should have been a much closer race, Skinner strapped a .008 light on Holbrook and held his breath, as Holbooks car charges hard on the top end. However, the silver ‘Stang of Holbrooks toted the wheels WAY downtrack and he had to pedal the throttle, thus handing Skinner the win.
In the Showdown finale, Butner was given a four-tenths head start based on the best runs he and Skinner had made in competition and parlayed a huge holeshot into a fairly easy win, outrunning Skinners top-end charge and taking the overall Factory Stock Showdown win.