This past weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals marked the return of SAMTech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown action for the first time this season. Both Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) drivers Leah Pruett and Mark Pawuk both took to their Challenger Drag Paks to eliminations.
Pruett pulled double duty this weekend also running in the Top Fuel category, she joined Mark Pawuk for SAMTech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown action. The pair took their Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Paks to their first elimination round runs of the year in the first of eight FSS events this season.
Sporting a fresh, new livery on his Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, 12th-seeded Pawuk lined up next to No. 5 qualifier Arthur Kohn in the opening round, but his 8.135-second elapsed time run at 169.85 mph wasn’t quite enough to beat his opponent’s 8.057-second/170.88-mph pass to move on to the next round.
“It’s great to be back behind the wheel of our Empaco Challenger Drag Pak this weekend here at Indy. We qualified in a very tough field. We left well, but unfortunately we’re struggling to keep up. We’re going to keep working hard to find a way to create more power and see what we can do to be more competitive. It was awesome to see fans in the stands with everything going on with Covid. It’s nice to be out at the track and I can’t wait to make more laps at Atlanta and Indy in late August.” – Mark Pawuk
A similar fate awaited Pruett who, from her 16th place qualifying position on the ladder, drove her Angry Bee themed Mopar Challenger Drag straight down the lane to post an 8.200-second E.T. at 168.07 mph but wasn’t able to challenge No. 1 qualifier Chris Holbrook’s 7.980-second/174.55-mph pass.
“No matter what category you’re in, one day of qualifying with just two hits is a challenge. We got our two Drag Paks qualified and we had to race the No. 1 qualifier (Chris) Holbrook. We tuned for the changing air and weather conditions. The package that we currently have is making it challenging to turn on win lights. We’re working very hard to change that, but in the interim, we’re doing the best job with what we can. The result is that win lights will be hard to find. This is a very different class than Top Fuel where we can see a progression from run to run. This particular class, progression happens on the dyno, at the shop, in making laps and with rule changes. We know that we don’t have an upper hand and it speaks a lot for Dodge and Mopar and our team to be fighting this fight and it’s a difficult run. We do see the light at the end of the tunnel and we know we can achieve what we have in the past with these Drag Paks.” – Leah Pruett
The pair will get back in their Drag Paks next month at the second FSS event of the season, scheduled to take place at the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway (Aug. 28th to 30th).