Joe Welch, ran to his second Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown No. 1 qualifier of the season this weekend at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Las Vegas Nationalsat The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Welch made his quickest run on Friday night. Tonight he backed it up with the quickest run of the final session to solidify his position as the Factory Stock team to beat on race day. His qualifying effort was not without challenges for the driver from Longboat Key, Florida.
“We had some bad luck on the first run and for some reason the RacePak didn’t record, and we lost all our data,” said Welch. “The second time up I stumbled, and we got no data again. The Challenger is running good but we are coming up here shooting blind. We have been battling with the combination of the two-step and the idle with this new supercharger. We are closing in on it. Once I get off the starting line, I am fine.”
Right behind Welch will be Aaron Stanfield in the No. 2 qualifying position based on his final session pass. A season ending victory for Welch would put a period on a tough stretch for his Dodge Challenger team.
“Having a good race day tomorrow would be a real blessing because we have worked so hard on this car and had so many things not go right for whatever reason,” said Welch. “At Indy I was No. 1 qualifier and we had two-step problems. I got sick at St. Louis. The car was running fine but I was in no condition to race.”
Through three runs at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as well as the 2021 season Welch gave credit to his young team for his success. The veteran driver will be wrapping up the season with an outside shot at finishing in the Top Ten but more importantly he is surrounded by a hard-working group.
“I have an awesome team,” added Welch. “My team brings so much professionalism to this operation they constantly exceed my expectations. These guys define the term team. They work well together. They support each other. When I am in the racecar, they are strapping me in and making sure everything is checking out OK. When we get back to the shop, they are ready to get back to work. They have been a real blessing.”
In the second session a few teams shuffled the order including veteran driver Mark Pawuk who moved his Empaco Mopar Drag Pak from No. 5 to No. 2 with a 7.970 second pass at 174.39 mph. Pawuk eventually wound-up No. 5 going into eliminations. 2021 Factory Stock Showdown champion Aaron Stanfield jumped from No. 18 to No. 3 putting a solid 7.970 second run at 173.99 mph and sliding in behind Pawuk based on speed. Jason Dietsch from Edgerton, Ohio, powered his Ford Cobra Jet to the No. 3 spot with a 7.979 second at 173.87 mph run.
Friday night saw Joe Welch race to the top of the Factory Stock Showdown qualifying sheet running 7.7873 seconds at 176.70 mph. The Longboat Key, Florida racer powered his Dodge Challenger to the top spot in front of a pair of Camaros driven by Stephen Bell and Jesse Alexandra. Surprisingly, several the top teams struggled with the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway track including Aaron Stanfield (No. 18), David Janac (No. 15) and John Cerbone (No. 14) after the first session.
In the first round No. 15 qualifier Dan Condon will have the first shot at winning the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown $1,000 bounty if he can upset Aaron Stanfield. Another tough first round match-up will be No. 5 qualifier Mark Pawuk versus John Cerbone in a battle of Top Ten Factory Stock racecars in a classic Dodge versus Chevrolet battle.
First Round Match-Ups
No. 1 Joseph Welch vs. No. 16 Doug Hamp
No. 2 Aaron Stanfield vs. No. 15 Dan Condon
No. 3 Jason Dietsch vs. No. 14 David Davies II
No. 4 Leah Pruett vs. No. 13 Ryan Priddy
No. 5 Mark Pawuk vs. No. 12 John Cerbone
No. 6 David Barton vs. No. 11 Scott Libersher
No. 7 Jesse Alexandra vs. No. 10 Anthony Troyer
No. 8 Stephen Bell vs. No. 9 Leonard Lottig
2021 Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown No. 1 Qualifiers
Gainesville: Bill Skillman, 7.781 sec, 179.47 mph
Houston: Bill Skillman, 7.823 sec, 177.72 mph
Norwalk: David Barton, 7.860, 177.79 mph
Denver: Aaron Stanfield, 8.234 sec, 164.65 mph
Topeka: John Cerbone, 7.909 sec, 164.13 mph
Indianapolis: Joseph Welch, 7.776 sec, 179.95 mph
St. Louis: Aaron Stanfield, 7.765 sec, 176.12 mph
Las Vegas: Joseph Welch, 7.873 sec; 176.70 mph
Tony Fay PR