Frustrated by his runner-up finish in the 2021 Constant Aviation NHRA Factory Stock Showdown, David Barton went into the 2022 season determined to have a better outcome, and he delivered an all-star performance that included three wins and a season championship. Barton finished the season with a robust total of 712 points, easily eclipsing the 662-point total of second-place Bill Skillman and the 586 posted by Aaron Stanfield, who had won the two previous championships.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Barton, moments after clinching the title at the final race of the season in Dallas. “It is hard to believe we came out on top amongst all these people who are trying so hard to accomplish the same goal.
“A lot [of this year’s success] had to do with just having my head screwed on straight and making sure I was mentally ready for every round,” Barton said. “I tend to run from car to car because I tune all sorts of cars when I’m racing. I love doing it, but it can also be a huge distraction. This time, I did a better job of staying focused. Last year, we had some good qualifying runs, and then I fell short on race day. That was unacceptable. There was a time when you might have been able to get away with it, but not against Bill Skillman or Aaron Stanfield. It also made a difference having my wife, Samantha, there more often. She made sure I took care of myself, and that was big.”
Barton is equal parts driver, tuner, and engine builder. He first made a name for himself in the Dodge Hemi Challenge, and his family engine business still builds some of the most competitive powerplants in the class. More recently, Barton has put his skill set to use in Factory Stock, which showcases modern muscle cars featuring superchargers and electronic fuel injection as well as a mandatory nine-inch rear tire that often acts as a great equalizer.
Following the disappointment of the last few seasons, Barton got off to a mostly satisfying start in 2022 with a semifinal finish in Gainesville followed by a runner-up at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.
Barton bagged the first of his three wins at midseason when he defeated Stephen Bell in the final in Bristol. Barton qualified his Saw Mill Auto Sales COPO Camaro in the No. 10 spot at that event and then powered past Leonard Lottig, Stanfield, and Dave Davies before winning the final by a comfortable 7.88 to 7.93 margin.
Throughout the season, Barton had success against reigning champ Stanfield, something he hadn’t been able to say in prior seasons. Including the four-wide event, Barton and Stanfield raced six times, with Barton winning four times.
“That was a difference maker, and even if I didn’t win the championship, it just felt nice to outrun him a few times,” said Barton. “Another key thing [is] this was the success [of] all of our teammates like Lenny Lottig, Jesse Alexandra, Scott Libersher, Dan Condon, Don Belles, Doug Hamp, and Anthony Troyer. There were times when they took care of business against some of the best cars in the class. It was all a team effort. Not just me.”
Barton served up another two holeshot wins on his way to perhaps the biggest win of his career at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals. He defeated incoming leader Skillman in the semifinals and then topped Stanfield in a thrilling final round, 7.786 to 7.781. The difference was Barton’s .020 to .037 advantage at the start.
“I was thirsty for that [Indy win] because we hadn’t had it together the previous couple of years,” Barton said. “I had to run Bill in the semi’s, and he had me covered by a half a tenth. I just hoped it would be a round where he’d give me some room, and that’s exactly what happened. The final was just me being in the right place at the right time. I took over the lead in the semi’s, and then winning the final made it that much better. I felt good leaving Indy, but I’ve also been around too long to get cocky.”
For Barton, the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at his home track, Maple Grove Raceway, proved to be the perfect setting to all but lock up the title with another victory. Barton dominated from start to finish, qualifying No. 1 and then beating Stanfield again in the final round. At that point, he knew he only needed to show up for the final event in Dallas in order to make the championship official.
“To win it at our home track was amazing,” said Barton. “I went in thinking I just needed to win a couple of rounds, and at the end of the day, we had the trophy. In Dallas, I was never so nervous just to stage a car. I just needed the 10 points [for making a qualifying attempt], but I couldn’t help but think about what might go wrong.
“I have a lot of people to thank for this, including my dad, Ray, and my wife, Samantha, along with Saw Mill Auto, Gary Wolkwitz, NGK, VP Fuel, Mickey Thompson, Holley EFI, Joel’s on Joy, Pro Torque converters, Chevrolet, and Dave, Jay Tim, Jim, Steve, Thomas, Ryan, and Pat, who put forth all the effort in our shop. The same goes for our teammates. This is a total team effort.”
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