Dodge Challenger Dominates the Factory Classes at the NHRA Midwest Nationals

This past weekend, the NHRA headed to World Wide Technology Raceway for the Midwest Nationals and among the 13 classes competing were two factory-based classes – Factory Stock Showdown (FSS) and Factory X (FX). Both of these factory-based classes were won by Dodge Challenger entries, with Mark Pawuk winning in Factory Stock Showdown while Allen Johnson drove the Geoff Turk Blackbird X to the win in Factory X.

NHRA Midwest Nationals FSS and FX Winners

Factory Stock Showdown

First up, in the Factory Stock Showdown class was packed with 22 entries in eliminations, including a handful of well-known Dodge Challengers drivers, such as AJ Berge, David Davies and Mark Pawuk. Pawuk got a great start to the event when he qualified in the top spot, but as the Midwest Nationals moved to eliminations, he just kept on getting better.

Mark Pawuk Dodge Challenger Launch

In the first round, Pawuk ran a 7.715 at 179.49 to beat Conner Statler while AJ Berge also took the first round win, running a 7.716 at 180.69. Unfortunately, Davies lost in the first round with a 7.778 at 179.61 to Anthony Troyer’s 7.713 at 178.02. In the second round, Berge won again, running a 7.651 at 181.81 to beat Troyer while Pawuk had a single pass due to an uneven number of cars in the second round group. Some drivers go easy on single runs, but Pawuk made the most of his free pass to Round 3, laying down a 7.583 at 182.03. That 7.583 is the quickest pass in the history of the Factory Stock Showdown class, so after being the quickest FSS car in Midwest Nationals, he claimed the title of the quickest FSS car in the history of the class.

Unfortunately, the third round marked the end of the day for AJ Berge, who ran a 7.672 at 181.89 in losing to Stephen Bell’s 7.672 at 179.33. You read that right – the two cars ran the exact same elapsed time, but Bell got the win on the tree, pulling a .029 reaction time to Berge’s .055. However, Pawuk made short work of Del Holbrook, running a 7.630 at 181.4 to advance to the fourth round. In that fourth round, Stephen Bell got a single pass to the finals while Pawuk had to take on Aaron Stanfield, and while Stanfield’s Camaro had an early advantage on the tree, the Challenger laid down the better ET to take the win (7.665 at 180.38 to 7.688 at 178.61).

Mark Pawuk Dodge Challenger

In the finals, Mark Pawuk took on Stephen Bell in a battle between the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak and the Chevrolet COPO Camaro. Pawuk got off of the starting line first (.036 to .053) and never looked back, roaring to the win with a 7.638 at 180.89 to Bell’s losing 7.651 at 179.47.

Mark Pawuk

After setting the class record for the quickest ET in history and qualifying in the top spot, Mark Pawuk ended his perfect weekend with a big win.

Factory X

Over in the Factory X class, things were a bit different. If you follow the NHRA, you likely know that FSS has been around for over a decade, but the Factory X class is new for 2023. As a result, the field is much smaller for the budding class, with just 4 entries for the Midwest Nationals. This included Camaro driver Greg Stanfield, Mustang drivers Stephen Bell and Chris Holbrook and, of course, Allen Johnson driving the Blackbird X of Geoff Turk. Click here for more information on how FX differs from FSS, and why Allen Johnson is driving Geoff Turk’s Challenger.

Blackbird Dodge Challenger Factory X

In the first round of FX qualifying, Allen Johnson ran into mechanical issues and could not make a pass while Holbrook turned in the best time with a 7.144 at 193.05, but he wouldn’t last long atop the leaderboard. In Q2, Holbrook ran a solid 7.165 at 193.24, but it was Allen Johnson in the Blackbird X Dodge Challenger who set the quickest ET – and made history. Johnson ran a 7.110 at 202.55 miles per hour, making the Blackbird X the first Factory X car to break the 200mph barrier. When the NHRA Factory X season began earlier this year, automotive supplier Jesel announced a $10,000 prize for the first FX car to eclipse the 200 mile per hour mark, so the Blackbird X team took home that big check in additional to grabbing the top spot in the class for the Midwest Nationals. You can watch the history-making run in the video below.

In the third and final round of FX qualifying, Allen Johnson wouldn’t hit 200, but he would run an even quicker elapsed time, laying down a 7.046 at 198.32, and he would need that improvement over his 7.11 in Q2, as in Q3, Stanfield ran a 7.091 at 192.08. As a result, Johnson and Team Blackbird headed into eliminations in the top spot.

Team Blackbird X - the First Factory X car to 200.

In the first round of eliminations for the Factory X class at the NHRA Midwest Nationals, Allen Johnson and the Blackbird X Dodge Challenger took on Stephen Bell, but it wasnt much of a race. After AJ jumped out to an early lead, Bell ran into issues near half-track and lifted out, allowing the Challenger to cruise to an W1 win with a 7.368 at 198.73. Meanwhile, on the other side of the four-car ladder, Holbrook and Stanfield had a great side-by-side race, with Holbrook’s 7.077 beating Stanfield’s 7.094 to advance to the finals.

In the Factory X finals, Allen Johnson grabbed a big starting line advantage (.067 to .105) and he just kept on pulling away in the Blackbird X Dodge Challenger. He took the win with a 7.105 at 202.27 miles per hour while Holbrook ran a 7.768 at 179.47, so Team Blackbird made a pair of 200+ runs to prove that they are, without doubt, the top dog in the Factory X class. You can watch the event-winning run in the video above.

Team Blackbird X with the Wally


Blackbird X images and videos courtesy of Geoff and Jena Turk. Mark Pawuk images courtesy of the Factory Stock Showdown FB account.

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