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Mark Pawuk Powers To Big Win At 2022 NMCA Season Opener

Posted By: Steve Baur
With an extra $10,000 on the line for the winner of the NMCA Holley EFI Factory Super Cars and NHRA Constant Aviation Factory Showdown classes in 2022, the Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak drivers were fired up for the start of the season, and Mark Pawuk of the Don Schumacher Racing team collected the first win of the season at the 2022 NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem event in Bradenton, Florida.
In February of 2022, Dodge announced that its Direct Connection Contingency Program would offer Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak racers $10,000 to win at National Muscle Car Association (NMCA) Factory Super Cars and National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Factory Stock Showdown events.

Leading up the NMCA season opener, Pawuk was fast, as he set both ends of the Constant Aviation Factory Showdown class record with a 7.608-second pass at 183.15 mph at the 2022 NHRA Gatornationals. While a win wasn’t in the cards for him there, he played a winning hand just a couple weeks later at the Red Line Oil NMCA’s Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines event just down the road at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
Pawuk’s ride is the first production Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak (Serial #001) and one of four of the supercharged, HEMI-powered machines racing under the Don Schumacher Racing banner. The NMCA’s season opener in Bradenton, Florida, saw a total of six Drag Paks entered, the most at any NMCA event since the series debuted it’s Holley EFI Factory Super Cars class in 2016.
Led by the Cobra Jet of Jim Betz with a 7.791-second run, nineteen cars qualified for the Holley EFI Factory Super Cars class. Pawuk grabbed the sixth spot with a 7.898, just a few spots behind his DSR teammate, David Davies, who managed a 7.854 for third.

As eliminations began, Pawuk clicked off a stout 7.844 against Tony Scott for a first-round victory. In the second round, the Akron, Ohio, resident drilled the Tree with an .078-second reaction time and logged a 7.796 at 177.85 to claim the win over Lindsay Wheelock and her new Drag Pak at 8.383.
Despite having the low ET for the second round, and taking the starting-line advantage over Pawuk in the third round of eliminations, Terry Munroe and his COPO Camaro suffered issues during the run, while Pawuk sped to a 7.836 for the round win.
The fourth round of competition pit Pawuk again the capable Cobra Jet of Bill Skillman. Skillman had hurt the engine in his CJ the round before, though, and bowed out of the competition, allowing Pawuk to advance easily.

The final round of competition then came down to Pawuk and the COPO Camaro of Ft. Myers’ Florida’s Jeff Bragg. Bragg had qualified 13th with an 8.09 elapsed time, and benefitted from red lights by A.J. Berge and Doug Hamp. Bragg had an easy win over Glenn Pieschke, and then had a bye run into the final round.
Pawuk and his crew chiefs, A.J. Berge and Kevin Helms, used power and performance to subdue Bragg’s winning streak, however. Pawuk took the starting line advantage, and held the lead all the way to the stripe, where he secured victory with a 7.807 to Bragg’s quickest run of the day at 8.206.
“Norwalk in 2019 was my last NMCA race and I won then. I’m glad to be back and be competitive,” Pawuk said. “The NMCA tracks have a lot more traction, and it took us a while to adjust to that. We ran a little better every round. My race with Skillman would have been a good race, but unfortunately he hurt his engine.”

Pawuk and the DSR team celebrated in the NMCA Winner’s Circle, where he was awarded the NMCA Victor award, as well as the Direct Connection-boosted prize money.
“It’s awesome to be able to win the first 10K,” Pawuk said.
With $10,000 up for grabs at each NMCA race and each of the eight NHRA races where the Factory Showdown class is hosted this year, Pawuk and his Empaco Equipment/ Ohio Cat/Mr. Heater Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak plan to hit as many events as possible.

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