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Home > LATEST STORIES > Leah Pritchett defeats Mark Pawuk in SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown at US Nationals | Presented by Nitto Tire

Leah Pritchett defeats Mark Pawuk in SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown at US Nationals | Presented by Nitto Tire

Leah Pritchett in her NMCA debut earlier this year, competing in Holley EFI Factory Super Car. She recently won the 57th annual NHRA Chevrolet Performance US Nationals.

The SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown had a little bit of everything for fans and racers of the true factory hot rod eliminator during the NHRA Chevrolet Performance US Nationals. In the end, Leah Pritchett defeated DSR teammate Mark “Cowboy” Pawuk in the all-Dodge/Don Schumacher Racing final round after three days of drama. The number one qualifier, Pritchett, set low ET of every round of competition and bested Pawuk in the finals with an 8.108 at 170.26 mph to the Cowboy’s 8.191 at 167.51 mph effort.

Pritchett recently found the 7s, she ran 7.98 during a pre-race test session at Lucas Oil Raceway and then put the car back in the box in anticipation of the biggest race of the year. Her Factory Stock Showdown win marks her first US Nationals win in either the sportsman or pro ranks. Pawuk found himself in his second straight final round in just four races, he won the NMCA All-American Nationals the week before at Summit Motorsports Park. The Factory Stock Showdown continues to be one of the hottest sportsman categories in NHRA with 27 cars showing up for the heads-up race as Dodge, Chevy, and Ford battle it out with the production racecars. Each manufacturer relies on a Whipple 2.9L supercharger with their iteration of a Stock Eliminator style engine under it. Each manufacturer’s car runs mid-8s off the showroom floor and that is where the specialty shops, tuners, and engine builders takeover and push the cars to the brink of the 7s.

Tensions were high during qualifying when Joe Welch ran what should have been the first 7-second class run in NHRA competition, but hours later it was removed from the top of the qualifying list when the NHRA technical department determined his Dodge Challenger Drag Pak was not in compliance with the class rules. Unofficial reports from the US Nationals point to an adjustable lower control arm as the reason for the disqualified run, though those reports have been unconfirmed. Welch worked his way into the field through the remaining qualifying sessions as he landed tenth thanks to an 8.133 at 166.64 mph. Pritchett would take the top position in the 16-car qualified field with an 8.002 at 172.56 mph run.

The NHRA tech staff didn’t stop scrutinizing the category throughout the weekend, all the first round victors were hustled into the famous Tech Barn at Lucas Oil Raceway for another thorough inspection. Welch would once again be on the other end of a decision to remove his run from competition, this time putting him out of the eliminator. Another technical offense would be discovered, the specific problem wasn’t officially disclosed by NHRA officials.

Several social media posts made by a representative of PTP Racing, the company hired to tune Welch’s Drag Pak, disclosed a photo that showed the throttle body modification that was ruled illegal. The throttle body appears to have one of the external ribs ground off, Jason Lee of PTP Racing says it isn’t clear in the rule book that the modification could be performed and it offers no performance advantage. According to Lee, the purpose for removing the rib was to allow easier maintenance when pulling the inlet tube on and off. He also informed RPD that the throttle body’s internals remained untouched.

Photo Courtesy of PTP Racing

Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi is the Director of Content & Marketing at ProMedia Publishing and Events with nearly 20 years of experience in motorsport writing and photography.