Life is good these days for NHRA racer Drew Skillman in the Sportsman ranks.
“This is about as good as it gets,” Skillman said. “Every time we go to the races, we win so I can’t really complain. Things have been really good.”
This season, Skillman has won two NHRA Factory Stock Showdown class races in Gainesville, Fla., and in Richmond, Va. He also won in Stock Eliminator in NHRA’s national event in Charlotte, N.C.
“I thought we would definitely win some Stock Eliminator races,” Skillman said. “I’ve been a Stock racer for a long time and I never quit racing in Stock Eliminator even when I was in Pro Stock, just not as much as I was. I thought we would have some success in that, and I thought the (Factory Stock) Showdown would be a bit more of a struggle than it has been. But obviously my crew did a great job developing the program over the winter and Chris Holbrook, with the powerplant and it is pretty darn superior over what else is out there right now and you just have to make hay when the sun shines and we did that.”
Skillman raced fulltime in NHRA’s Pro Stock ranks from 2015-2018. He finished third in the Pro Stock points standings a year ago behind Tanner Gray and Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Skillman captured the title Factory Stock Showdown victory Sunday in Richmond by defeating Bo Butner on a holeshot in the finals in his Cobra Jet. The same Butner, who won Pro Stock in Richmond.
Skillman clocked a 7.990-second elapsed time at 170.69 mph, while Butner had a quicker elapsed time at 7.989 seconds at 171.29 mph. The difference was at the starting line as Skillman had a .028 reaction time compared to Butner’s .054 reaction time.
Butner flew with Skillman to and from the Richmond race, which prompted some colorful conversations.
“There was quite a bit of sh*t talking on the way down and a lot more on the way back,” Skillman said with a laugh. “There was a lot more on the way back. I’m glad we could back it up. We have a good time. We’ve known Bo for a long time, and we had good competition back and forth for quite some time now. I really respect him. He’s a great race car driver and it is fun to race and be around people like that.”
Drew Skillman and his father, Bill are competing fulltime in the Factory Stock Showdown class in 2019.
The Factory Showdown Series will have eight events in 2019 and the remaining schedule is as follows – Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, Kan., (June 7-9); Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio, (June 20-23); U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis (Aug. 28-Sept. 2); AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, St. Louis, (Sept. 27-29) and AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Dallas, (Oct. 17-20).
“I’m only racing the Showdown races and then I will race the Indy divisional and stuff that’s local,” said Skillman, who lives right outside of Indianapolis in Greenwood. “I would really like to win Indy in the Sportsman class. I won it in Pro Stock (in 2017) and I would like to win it in Stock Eliminator. That’s kind of a thing on my bucket list so we will see. I have not even got close (to winning Indy) in the Sportsman ranks. It has been a rough race for me.”
Skillman acknowledged he hasn’t got Pro Stock racing completely out of his system.
“I definitely miss driving a Pro Stock car, but I don’t miss the schedule even though they made the schedule a little bit more racer-friendly for business owners. It was a good decision for me. I needed to spend more time at work (at the Ray Skillman Ford story) and spend some time with the family. We are just backing down a little bit in the Showdown class and it obviously gives me the heads-up racing, which we enjoy and still get to do a little bit of Sportsman Racing on the side.”
The NHRA Pro Stock class was reduced to an 18-event national schedule this season.
Skillman and his wife, Brittany have been married for three years. They are expecting their first child, a girl, Sept. 10.
“We are really excited,” Drew said.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019