Veteran driver Joe Welch, kicked off the season with a win at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown. Welch, driving his Joe Welch Racing Challenger Drag Pak, faced some tough competitors, including Chevrolet COPO Camaros and Ford Mustang Cobra Jets on his way to the finals.
In the final round, Welch was pitted against Aaron Stanfield, who drove his Janac Brothers Chevrolet COPO Camaro to the finals as the No.1 qualifier. Despite the challenge, Welch emerged victorious, running a 7.638-second pass at a Factory Stock Showdown speed record of 185.18 mph, defeating Stanfield’s 8.308 @ 134.70 after he shut off early.
Welch’s path to the final was not easy, as he had to overcome tough opponents like Jesse Alexandra and David H. Davies in the earlier rounds. In a thrilling drag race, Welch drove past Alexandra to secure his spot in the semifinals. In the semifinals, despite a challenging ride, he held on to beat Davies.
On the other hand, Stanfield defeated AJ Berge in the quarterfinals and then took the Janac Brothers COPO to a 7.755 @ 177.32 in the final round but came up short against Welch.
Welch’s victory not only secured him the win but also set the speed record and earned him $1,000 for beating Stanfield, thanks to the Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown Bounty Program. He also collected $10,000 from the Direct Connection Drag Pak contingency program for his win.
Speaking about his win, Welch said, “I am going to pay for my fuel, which will be great. Golf great Greg Norman has a quote that I have always kept in the back of my head. ‘I would rather be the hunted than the hunter.’ I agree with that.”
Welch, a resident of Longboat Key, Florida, has been to the finals three times in his career and picked up victories each time. With his impressive performance, Welch will undoubtedly be looking to carry his momentum into the next event, the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway, on April 28th – 30th.
Image Source: Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown FB Page