race reports

Factory Stock Showdown at 50th Gatornationals

Mustangs dominate Camaros

Words by Jeff Burk

Photos by Adam Cranmer and Steve Gruenwald

Drew Skillman (near lane) met Stephen Bell in the final in a classic Ford versus Chevrolet match.


At the first Gatornationals in 1970 the premier NHRA doorslammer class was Pro Stock. It was a class added to the NHRA show for the first time that season and factory-aided Bill Jenkins, Ronnie Sox, Dyno Don Nicholson and other former stars of the Super Stock classes raced all-steel factory-built sedans with highly modified Chevy, Chrysler and Ford factory engines under the hood. The stands at that race were filled with diehard fans of those Detroit brands rooting for their favorite driver and brand.


Although NHRA's current Pro Stock class in no way resembles what Pro Stock fans saw at the first Gatornationals, fans of that era who came to the 2019 edition were treated to some old school Pro Stock action from the NHRA's 7.70's, 180-mph, wheel standing Factory Stock Showdown cars and drivers. In this era of drag racing, qualifying in the professional classes is often just a perfunctory exercise since there often a just enough entries to fill the qualified field. That was not the case in the Factory Stock class at the Gators where qualifying was a brutal battle with 32 entries vying for just 16 spots.



  1 Bill Skillman, Greenwood IN, '14 Mustang        7.744  172.96

  2 Carl Tasca, Cranston RI, '16 Mustang            7.758  178.24

  3 Chris Holbrook, Livonia MI, '19 Mustang         7.770  178.05

  4 Randy Eakins, Sikeston MO, '19 Mustang          7.782  178.64

  5 Drew Skillman, Greenwood IN, '18 Mustang        7.829  175.11

  6 Leah Pritchett, Danville IN, '15 Challenger     7.852  173.21

  7 Randy Taylor, Artesia NM, '19 Camaro            7.853  174.41

  8 Stephen Bell, Shreveport LA, '18 Camaro         7.856  174.87

  9 Scott Libersher, Wilmington IL, '19 Camaro      7.862  173.87

 10 David Janac, Caldwell TX, '19 Camaro            7.879  174.35

 11 David Barton, Reading PA, '19 Camaro            7.879  173.34

 12 Arthur Kohn, Richmond TX, '19 Camaro            7.883  177.93

 13 Leonard Libersher, Wilmington IL, '15 Camaro    7.885  172.67

 14 Kevin Skinner, Grove City OH, '16 Mustang       7.900  173.38

 15 Robert Falcone, Pleasant Valley NY, '19 Camaro  7.910  172.56

 16 Pete Gasko Jr, Monroe Township NJ, '19 Camaro   7.920  174.35


       ------------ Not Qualified ------------


 17 Ryan Priddy, Chino CA, '19 Camaro               7.934  173.47

 18 Paul Roderick, Westernport MD, '16 Mustang      7.965  179.33

 19 Terry Munroe, Beaver PA, '19 Camaro             7.967  171.42

 20 Bo Butner, Floyds Knobs IN, '16 Mustang         7.971  172.83

 21 Kevin Lumsden, Caddo TX, '19 Camaro             7.984  173.61

 22 Doug Hamp, York PA, '19 Camaro                  7.994  171.40

 23 Jesse Alexandra, West Bend WI, '19 Camaro       8.035  170.67

 24 Johnny Calvert, Lancaster CA, '19 Mustang       8.043  172.17

 25 Chuck Watson, Grosse Ile MI, '19 Mustang        8.069  175.98

 26 Allen Johnson, Greeneville IN, '15 Challenger   8.069  169.59

 27 Mark Pawuk, Akron OH, '15 Challenger            8.077  170.26

 28 Don Fezell, Dubois PA, '08 Mustang              8.123  166.58

 29 Waldemar Rodriguez, Cidra PR, '19 Camaro        8.202  172.25

 30 Richard Bierie, Acworth GA, '17 Camaro          8.229  165.48

 31 Dan Condon, Wilmington IL, '18 Camaro          10.750   81.52


The SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown qualifying saw some fierce competition. COPO Camaros dominated the entry list with 17, followed by Mustang Cobra Jets with 12 and Challenger Drag Paks with a mere three entries. The odds would seem to favor the Camaros for taking the win, but that’s not what happened -- supercharged Mustangs dominated!  After qualifying for the 16-car field was done the final count was 10 Camaros, five Mustangs and one lone Challenger, 2018 champion Leah Pritchett. All five Mustangs made it out of the first round, leaving Ryan Priddy (as an alternate for Eakins), Stephen Bell, and Randy Taylor to represent the Bowtie Brigade.

In the first round David Barton had the starting line advantage, but then his Camaro crossed the centerline in front of opponent Chris Holbrook, who maneuvered his Mustang out of Barton’s way. But in doing so he knocked out the half-track cones. Holbrook got the win, but no time. 

Leah Pritchett’s 354-inch Hemi-powered “Angry Bee” Challenger could not get her to the finish line in the first round even with her .024 to .043 RT. Kevin Skinner’s Mustang ran 7.799/175.57 to Pritchett’s 7.891 at 172.59 mph.


Carl Tasca, father of Funny Car driver Bob Tasca III, has been a loyal Ford man and Ford dealer for many years. He qualified at No. 2 and got the first-round win over a red-lighting David Janac. His 7.745 at 177.88 got the better of Kevin Skinner’s 7.813/175.84 in the second, but then the veteran went red against Stephen Bell.

Oh no! A crewmember reacts as Carl Tasca turns on the dreaded red light against Stephen Bell in the semifinal. Bell of Shreveport, LA, drove his Chevrolet COPO Camaro to a runner-up finish. He was the winner of the event in 2018 at the track. 

Drew Skillman (near lane) met his father, Bill, in the second round. With only .001 separating their Reaction Times, the youngster’s 7.733 at 176.03 mph narrowly beat dad’s 7.736/177.14. Bill qualified his Mustang at the top of the field with a 7.744, more than a tenth of a second quicker than the Drag Pak or COPO Camaro competitors.

Randy Taylor of Artesia, NM, in his COPO Camaro got past Robert Falcone, who crossed the centerline, and Holbrook (shown), 7.828 to 7.856, but had to click off in his semifinal run against Skillman. 


Drew Skillman set a class record with a 7.718-second pass in the semifinal. He took the win in his very first Factory Stock Showdown. 


NOTE: As is often the case after one brand or power combination has dominated an event, the NHRA reviewed the performances and came up with a rules change for the Factory Stocks (as posted on NHRARacer.com):  The NHRA Technical Department is increasing the supercharger top pulley size on the 2019 COPO 350 combination from 3.350 inches to 3.500 inches and the 2019 Cobra Jet 327 combination from 3.250 inches to 3.500 inches. This will decrease the 2019 COPO 350 combination supercharger overdrive from 147.5 percent to 136.6 percent overdrive or 10.9 percent. Additionally, this will decrease the 2019 Cobra Jet 327 combination supercharger overdrive from 146.2 percent to 128.6 percent or 17.6 percent. As a reminder no other changes may be made to all approved superchargers, including, but not limited to: (upper or lower pulley sizes, gear ratios, cases, rotors, etc.). All other permitted combinations in the SAMTech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Show.


It remains to be seen what those changes do to the performances at the next SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown on April 12-14 at Houston, TX.  



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