Holbrook defends Factory Stock Showdown title
Friday, August 29, 2014

by Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor

Chris Holbrook, far lane, won his second straight Factory Stock Showdown title at Indy when he drove his Watson Racing/Varsity Ford Cobra Jet to an 8.69 to 9.02 win over three-time NHRA Stock champ Kevin Helms’ Challenger in the final.

For the third straight year, a Cobra Jet Mustang emerged as the king of the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown after Chris Holbrook successfully defended his 2013 title. Holbrook, a former IHRA series Pro Stock champion, drove his Watson Racing Mustang to a win in the FS/A class, and then captured overall class honors when he defeated the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak of FS/B winner and three-time Stock national champ Kevin Helms. In the final round, Holbrook gave up a five-hundredths advantage to Helms, who cut a .008 light, but rallied to claim the win, 8.69 to 9.02.

“This is awesome,” said Holbrook. “We felt like we had the best car, but you never know who might be holding back or who might surprise you. Kevin Helms is a great driver and I knew he’d be on time, but I also thought we had the car to win. It would have been foolish for me to try and cut a .00 light. Bo [Butner, former Factory Stock Showdown champ] told me before the run that if I was .050 or better on the Tree that I’d win, and he was right. We have a tune-up on this car that is very good, and it allows it to go down the track just about every time. He was ahead of me for a while, but by the time we got to the 1,000-foot mark, I felt pretty good.”

As the top qualifier in the FS/A class, which is reserved for supercharged entries, Holbrook had a bye run in the opening round but later drove his Watson Racing/Varsity Ford Cobra Jet to wins over Gray Motorsports Pro Stock crew chief Craig Hankinson and Gary Richard before facing the Autogeek.net COPO Camaro of two-time NHRA Comp champ Bruno Massel in the FS/A final. In that race, Holbrook made his slowest run of the weekend with an 8.74 but prevailed after Massel fouled.

“I really love these Factory Showdown races, “said Holbrook, who is a former IHRA series Pro Stock champion. “They are a lot of fun, and it’s a great way for the factories to battle against each other on the dragstrip. I’m very happy to be a part of that.”

In the FS/B class, Helms emerged from a very deep pool of talent that also included Pro Stock driver Dave Connolly, former Hemi Challenge champion Dave Barton, Comp champ Bo Butner, and past national event winners Ken Miele and Kevin Stubbs.

Helms, driving a 426 Hemi-powered Challenger for the Southland Dodge team, made four runs between 9.00 and 9.03 during eliminations to win the FS/B title, including a 9.03 to 9.06 win over Connolly’s GMPartsNow.com COPO Camaro in the final round.

“We accomplished a lot this weekend, including winning the FS/B class,” said Helms, who won three consecutive Stock titles from 2001-03. “In the final, I didn’t see Chris for a long time, and then he was right there with me. That Ford is loud, and when he passed me, he came by very quickly. We are pretty happy with our Dodge, though. We have a bit of work to do, but we’re on the right track.”