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Indy's Sportsman special events

31 Aug 2016
Kevin McKenna, National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report

Many things make the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals the world’s most prestigious drag race, including the School of Automotive Machinists & Technology NHRA Factory Stock Showdown and the Mopar Hemi Challenge, two premier events for NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Sportsman racers.

The Mopar Hemi Challenge is a tradition-rich event that dates back to the original muscle-car wars of the 1960s and features heads-up competition between '68-model Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda factory race cars, the forerunners of today’s Pro Stock cars.

Charlie Westcott Jr., who for more than a decade was the undisputed king of the Mopar Hemi Challenge, has moved on to Pro Stock, which has opened the door for other competitors to shine. One of those competitors was engine builder Lloyd Wofford, who claimed an emotional victory in last year's event. Wofford should again be among the favorites this season, but with more than 20 entries in the field, a repeat victory will be difficult.

MOPAR HEMI CHALLENGE
  
Stephen Hebert Secretariat Barracuda 3-1
As the entry name suggests, this is a thoroughbred entry with Reher-Morrison horsepower. A good bet to qualify No. 1 as well.
  
Lloyd Wofford Engines Inc. Barracuda 5-1
Defending event champ is eager to prove that last season’s win was no fluke. It wasn’t. He will almost certainly be in contention for a second title this year.
  
Steve Kent Kent Racing Barracuda 6-1
Former Pro Stock driver already bagged a win this season at the Hemi “Chootout” event during the JEGS NHRA SPORTSnationals in Bowling Green, Ky.
  
Bucky Hess Bucky’s Auto Body Barracuda 7-1
This car is fully capable of winning the race, but to do so, he needs to avoid the small gremlins that have often cropped up.
  
Stephen Comella Island Hemi Dart 9-1
This car has been close on a number of occasions, but to win, he’s going to have to have a break or two.
  
Joe Teuton III Southland Truck Group Barracuda 11-1
As always, he has an edge because he is one of the best drivers in the class, but one has to wonder if the horsepower is here.
  
Gary Wolkwitz Ray Barton Racing Dart 14-1
Admittedly, he has a better chance of winning the Factory Stock Showdown with his David Barton-driven COPO, but this car should be a player as well.
  
Doug Fazzolare Fever Motorsport Dart 17-1
Reportedly has a fresh Barton-built bullet under the hood, but it remains to be seen if that’s enough to take on the top dogs in the class.

 

While the Mopar Hemi Challenge honors the rich history of factory involvement in NHRA racing, the SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown is a showcase event for modern factory muscle cars, including the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, Ford Cobra Jet Mustang, and Chevrolet COPO Camaro factory race cars that have continued to gain in popularity in the last decade.

So far this season, David Barton is undefeated in the three Factory Showdown events, held in Gainesville, Englishtown, and Norwalk, but Barton's season won't be complete unless he completes the sweep in Indy. Standing in his way is a strong field of supercharged machines, including a new Dodge entry driven by two-time and reigning NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders.

SAM TECH FACTORY STOCK SHOWDOWN
  
David Barton Wolkwitz Racing COPO Camaro 2-1
Undefeated in the first three events of the season, it will be a major disappointment if they don’t win the Big Go.
  
Kevin Skinner Columbus Joint & Clutch Cobra Jet Mustang 4-1
Recently debuted a new ’16 Cobra Jet, and early indications are that he can run with the leaders.
  
Ryan Herem Autogeek.net COPO Camaro 6-1
This car, with owner Bruno Massel driving, posted big numbers in Englishtown. They’ll need to do that again to have a chance here.
  
Chris Holbrook Watson Racing Cobra Jet Mustang 8-1
Multitime Factory Showdown winner has been strangely silent this year. This would be a perfect time for a breakout.
  
Clay Arnett Arnett Racing COPO Camaro 10-1
It’s worth noting that this car ran 8.32 at Lucas Oil Raceway in late 2014. He could use a few more of those runs.
  
Stephen Bell 1320 LLC COPO Camaro 14-1
He has ace Pro Stock engine builder Greg Stanfield in his corner, which opens up all kinds of possibilities.
  
Erica Enders Welch Motorsports Drag Pak Challenger 20-1
Two-time Mello Yello Pro Stock world champ will make her Factory Stock Showdown debut in an untested vehicle.
  
Austin Ford SamTech/Lupe Tortilla Cobra Jet Mustang 22-1
Longtime Ford ace will be in a very competitive '16-model Cobra Jet Mustang, so he should be able to make some noise.