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Bill Skillman leads record all-seven-second Factory Stock field

Bill Skillman’s record 7.744 leads the way in first seven-second SAM Tech.edu Factory Stock field. Plus a look at how the class compares to Pro Stock in 1982.
16 Mar 2019
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage

Less than six months ago, Mark Pawuk set the elapsed time record at 7.927 in the SAM Tech.edu Factory Stock Showdown. Today, that run is not quick enough to qualify for the record field at the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. Automotive technology moves at lightning speeds and no where is that more evident than the Factory Stock class, which features modern muscle cars from the big three; Dodge, Ford, and General Motors.

Since last season, where the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak entries won five of seven events and the championship, new supercharger technology was approved for the Ford Cobra Jet Mustangs and the Chevy COPO Camaro entries. The end result has been a sizable performance improvement that has dramatically shifted the balance of power in the class. During pre-season testing, numerous photos of 7.7 and 7.8-second time slips made their way onto various social media platforms, fueling speculation for a record-setting 2019 debut in Gainesville.

It didn’t take long for that speculation to become reality once qualifying began on Friday. Immediately, almost every driver in the record 31-car field had recorded a career best including Bill Skillman who wheeled his new Cobra Jet Mustang to a 7.744. The bump spot plummeted in each session before finally settling at a 7.920 by past Factory Stock Showdown winner Pete Gasko Jr. Six drivers, including 2017 Mello Yello Pro Stock champ Bo Butner, ran in the sevens and did not qualify for the 16-car race. Also on the outside of the field was Pawuk, and fellow Pro Stock alum Allen Johnson.

1Bill Skillman‘14 Mustang7.744175.87
2Carl Tasca‘16 Mustang7.758178.24
3Chris Holbrook‘19 Mustang7.770178.05
4Randy Eakins‘19 Mustang7.782178.64
5Drew Skillman‘18 Mustang7.829175.11
6Leah Pritchett‘15 Challenger7.852173.21
7Randy Taylor‘19 Camaro7.853174.41
8Stephen Bell‘18 Camaro7.856174.87
9Scott Libersher‘19 Camaro7.862173.87
10David Janac‘19 Camaro7.879174.35
11David Barton‘19 Camaro7.879174.23
12Arthur Kohn‘19 Camaro7.883177.93
13Leonard Libersher‘15 Camaro7.885172.67
14Kevin Skinner‘16 Mustang7.900173.74
15Robert Falcone‘19 Camaro7.910172.56
16Pete Gasko Jr.‘19 Camaro7.920174.35


For those win an interest in history, the 2019 Gainesville Factory Stock field bears a striking resemblance to the 1982 Gatornationals Pro Stock field, which was the second race of the 500-cubic inch era. Qualifying for that event was led by the late Lee Shepherd (pictured above) with a 7.778 in the famed Reher-Morrison-Shepherd Camaro. Shepherd went on to win the race in a thrilling 7.88 to 7.89 final round against rival Frank Iaconio. A 1982 era Pro Stock car featured a carbureted 500-cid engine and a 2,350-pound minimum weight. Today’s Factory Stock entries feature supercharged and fuel injected small block engines varying from 327 to 354-cid and minimum weights of 3,575-pounds. For comparison sake, the qualifying lists for the two events are listed below.

1Lee Shepherd’81 Camaro7.778‘177.16
2Frank Iaconio’81 Camaro7.838‘175.09
3Pat Musi’81 Camaro7.897171.75
4Joe Lepone’81 Camaro7.900172.41
5David Hutchens’81 Camaro7.912172.41
6Rickie Smith’81 Mustang7.934173.41
7Don Coonce’81 Camaro7.945171.10
8Roy Hill’82 Charger7.960171.42
9Bob Glidden’82 EXP7.975174.41
10Mark YuillJ20007.983172.08
11Bob Ingles’81 Camaro7.991171.42
12Harold Denton’81 Mustang8.025171.42
13Chuck Sneed’81 Camaro8.030168.85
14John Brumley’81 Camaro8.032169.17
15Jerry Janke’81 Camaro8.050168.22
16Jerome Bradford’81 Monte Carlo8.054170.13