Chris Holbrook, near lane, drove his new Varsity Ford Cobra Jet to the SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown title with a final-round win over Stephen Bell's COPO Camaro. Along the way, Holbrook made the sport's quickest Stock pass with an 8.23 at more than 165 mph.
There was a dominating performance in the School of Automotive Machinists and Technology Factory Stock Showdown, but this time it was Chris Holbrook who administered the punishment, not three-time Factory Showdown champ David Barton. Holbrook debuted his '16 Cobra Jet Mustang at Indy and ran roughshod over the eight-car field to win the special event, which is open to new-era Factory Stock race cars from Ford, GM, and Dodge.
“Coming in here with a new car, we knew that we had a lot of power, but we didn’t have much time to test. We went to Michigan last week and made three runs just to try and figure the chassis out. Then we came here and struggled a little in qualifying.”
Holbrook, who previously raced in the mountain-motor Pro Stock class, qualified third in the field with an 8.412, nearly a tenth behind Barton, who drove Gary Wolkwitz’s COPO Camaro to an 8.339 for the top spot. Barton entered the event unbeaten in Factory Stock Showdown races with wins in Gainesville, Englishtown, and Norwalk. In Sunday’s eliminations, Holbrook lowered the boom with an 8.23 pass, bettering Barton’s previous record of 8.25 as the sport’s quickest Stock run. He also ran 165.17 mph, one of the fastest speeds in the history of the class.
“I knew that run was good, but I had no idea it was that good,” said Holbrook. “The car was very smooth which is usually a good sign. When I got my time slip, the woman said, ‘You ran 165 mph.’ I told her, ‘Forget about that, did you see I ran 8.23?' I couldn’t believe it.”
In Sunday’s semifinal and final rounds, Holbrook ended Barton’s winning streak at 10 rounds with an 8.30. Barton made his best run of the weekend, but his 8.36 was not enough. In the final, Holbrook used a consistent 8.31 to stop Stephen Bell’s COPO Camaro. Earlier, Bell had defeated Chuck Watson and Anthony Bongiovanni.
“I actually have to give a lot of credit to [fellow Ford Factory Stock racer] Kevin Skinner,” said Holbrook. “He sent me a note on Saturday and told me what I’d been missing. He realized this car can go 8.20s, so we took a closer look at our tune-up and realized that he was right.”
The SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown was a huge hit in 2016 with more than 20 supercharged entries competing for just eight available spots. The close competition produced a tough field that stretched from Barton's 8.339 to Randy Eakins' 8.545.
While the SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown is complete for 2016, Holbrook and Barton will likely continue their Ford vs. Chevy battle later this season at the Pennsylvania Dutch Classic National Open at Maple Grove Raceway. At that event, both drivers plan to pull out all the stops in an attempt to become the first Stock racer in the seven-second zone.