Following a season where he won five of six events and practically coasted to his first title in the Constant Aviation NHRA Factory Stock Showdown, Aaron Stanfield knew that winning a second title would be difficult, but he might not have anticipated the battle that ensued in 2021.
Stanfield managed to win three of eight events behind the wheel of the Janac Bros. COPO Camaro, but he also took his lumps on a few occasions as competition among the Chevy, Dodge, and Ford factory muscle cars continued to intensify.
“I would say both championships were hard to win, but it seemed like we had more challenges presented to us this year,” Stanfield said. “Last year, the Fords didn’t race too much, and this year, they came back, and the Dodges stepped up and David Barton and some others really stepped up. That just made us really work hard for it.”
Stanfield kicked off the season in the best way possible — with a victory at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. He defeated Kevin Skinner’s Cobra Jet Mustang in the final round but trailed low qualifier Bill Skillman and several other teams in terms of performance. That theme was constant during the season, particularly among the Dodge teams, which enjoyed a resurgence with the introduction of the 2021 Drag Pak Challenger, a car that topped 182 mph during the season.
Stanfield didn’t exactly struggle this season, but after his Gainesville victory in March, he didn’t find the winner’s circle again until late September.
“I don’t really think about the points too much; I’ve never been one of those guys,” said Stanfield. “We just kept grinding. I feel like if you can go out and win races, the championship will take care of itself.
“You really need to mentally stay in your own lane and focus on what you can do,” Stanfield said. “I think the Dodges made some big strides. It is cool to see the e.t.s coming closer together. That equates to some really good drag racing like we saw this [season].”
After a runner-up finish to David Barton in Houston, Stanfield suffered a rare round-one loss in Norwalk. Stanfield didn’t win the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals, but he did impress the Bandimere Speedway fans with a towering wheelstand that nearly cleared the 330-foot clocks.
“We went to Denver thinking that on the mountain we won’t have enough power to do that, but obviously, we did,” Stanfield recalled. “That was a wild run. It got airborne, and I shifted it, and it stayed up. It was out there a ways when it finally landed.
“That’s one of the things I like about driving these Showdown cars. They are unpredictable. They can blow the tires off or they can drag the rear bumper. It’s a heavy car on a nine-inch rear tire, and that makes it interesting.”
After a runner-up against first-time winner Jesse Alexandra at the Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals, Stanfield clinched the title at the penultimate event of the season in St. Louis and then finished the year in style with a victory in Las Vegas at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil.
For most of the season, Stanfield was firmly in control of his own destiny but still had to fend off late-season challenges from rivals Barton and Alexandra. The dramatic finish that many had expected in St. Louis never materialized as Barton and Alexandra each lost in round one, and Stanfield went on to win the event over first-time finalist Leonard Lottig.
“The first championship one was pretty awesome,” said Stanfield. “I wouldn’t say one was better than the other. They are both special, and we have worked so hard to get to this point.
“That was definitely surprising because I didn’t know I could lock it up in the first round,” Stanfield said. “When Barton went out, I had no idea that was it. I was strapped in the car, and they came over and told me it was over and I won. That’s always a cool feeling not just for me but also the people who support me. This is a true team effort.”
As was the case in 2020, Stanfield’s success wasn’t confined to the Factory Stock Showdown class. He also became a legitimate championship threat in Pro Stock with three wins and a sparkling 23-14 record. Stanfield also went to a pair of final rounds in Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers.
To cap off a memorable year, Stanfield got to celebrate alongside his father, Greg, who picked up his fifth Super Stock title, more than a quarter-century after winning his fourth. As if that wasn’t enough, Stanfield also got married in March and he and wife Joleigh are expecting their first child in February 2022.
“I don’t know how to put this season into words,” Stanfield said. “Sharing a championship with my dad was awesome. I was too young to remember when he won his first championships, so it was cool to see him shine.
“I owe a lot of thanks to my dad, my wife, Joleigh, to Conner Jackson and Colin Statler in our shop as well as JD and Terrissa Coffman of JC3 Energy, David and Joe Janac, and Pat Quinn, and everyone who supports our programs.”
AARON STANFIELD’S TRACK RECORD
|Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals
|Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals
|Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals
|Dodge NHRA Mile-High Nationals
|Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals
|Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals
|NHRA Midwest Nationals
|Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals