Even though he won the first three rounds of the School of Automotive Machinists and Technology NHRA Factory Stock Showdown in 2016, David Barton let the sport’s biggest prize slip through his fingers when he lost the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals title to Chris Holbrook. He didn’t hesitate to call it the most painful loss of his career.
Barton didn’t get mad, Barton got even.
Returning to Indy a year later with an all-new supercharged COPO Camaro, Barton knuckled down and blitzed the 22-car field with a string of 8.1 and 8.2-second runs. Barton capped off the week-long battle with a thrilling 8.181, 164.53 to 8.214, 165. against Steven Bell’s similar COPO in the final.
“This is the greatest race on earth and I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” said Barton, who builds racing engines along with his father, Ray. “It doesn’t get any better than this. After the second round, we had five of the eight cars remaining. They were all our customers. They all worked hard to get there.
The 2017 edition of the SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown featured a 16-car field for the first time and 22 drivers made qualifying attempts. Barton wheeled his Camaro to the top spot with an 8.109, 165.31 pass. Bell was close behind with an 8.126, 166.68 and the bump was a competitive 8.491 by John Calvert’s Cobra Jet Mustang.
Barton was solid throughout eliminations but he had to rely on a bit of luck to survive his opening round battle against Carl Tasca’s 170-mph Cobra Jet. Both racers spun the tires off the starting line but Barton was able to recover with an 8.582, 163.37 to advance. Barton later drove to an 8.262, 164.03 in the quarterfinals to beat Daniel Condon’s COPO. In the semi’s, Barton stopped Kevin Skinner’s Ford, 8.199, 164.85 to 8.331, 162.52.
In addition to the win, Barton also put a hammerlock on the points title in the season-long battle for the SAM Tech Factory Stock championship. Coming into the event, Barton was tied with Chuck Watson after each driver won one of the first three events. When Watson was upset in the opening round, it provided a perfect opportunity for Barton to distance himself and he didn’t let it go to waste.
“There is an extra round at this race so I’m pretty sure I just clinched the championship,” said Barton. “The cool thing about this class is that you can go buy them from a Chevrolet dealership pretty much the way they are. You can go to a dealer and get one and that’s cool. A guy like me will need a loan to do it, but it can be done.”
There is just one more round left in the five-race series, later this month at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis.