Author: McKenna, Kevin
Date published: May 18, 2012
Journal code: NDRG
As the operator of the popular website www.thisisbracketracing.com and a drag racing school instructor, Luke Bogacki lends his wisdom and expertise to his fellow competitors on a regular basis, offering helpful tips on the finer points of Sportsman drag racing. Bogacki also isn't above following his own advice, and he was able to put his various strategies to good use at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, where he claimed his third career NHRA national event title.
"What we share in schools and online is what I try to practice whenever I'm racing," said Bogacki. "We break down handicap racing into three basic strategies, and during the six rounds in Houston, I was able to use each of those strategies twice. I'm afraid to be giving information away. For the most part, if you create a game plan and then execute it with precision, you're going to be unbeatable anyway. It's like Dan Fletcher says, 'It's not who you run but rather when you run them that counts.' Thankfully, I was in the right place at the right time, and no one really put together an unbeatable run against me."
No one was able to beat Bogacki, although several of his opponents came close. Quarterfinal opponent and Division 6 Super Street champ Travis Ringguth was nearly perfect on the starting line with a .003 light (see The key race), and Bogacki's semifinal race against well-known Lloyd Parfait was decided by a narrow 9.872 to 9.864 double breakout.
The final was also no cakewalk, although Bogacki wasn't far downtrack before he realized he wasn't going to catch JeffLopez's fleeing Corvette. Leftwith few options, he tapped the brakes and slowed to a 9.91, taking the win when Lopez broke out with a 9.87.
"My car is so good that I had a pretty good idea where I was," said Bogacki. "I knew I couldn't catch him but had a good feeling about it. This was a fun deal all the way around. It's the third [national event] final I've been in, and I've been lucky to win all three of them. I've been on the road for a few weeks, and my wife, Jessica, told me not to come home without a Wally. Now, it's safe to pull back in my driveway."
The key race: Super-class races are rarely won without at least one nail-biting round, and Bogacki's Houston victory was no exception. Paired with Ringguth's '86 Camaro in the fourth round, Bogacki crossed the finish line first by a scant four-thousandths of a second and registered a 9.925 to 9.932 victory.
"I was probably more concerned about that round than any other," said Bogacki. "I watched him in the previous round, and he was 9.90 wide open. When we ran, I didn't expect him to be .003 on the Tree, but I got lucky because he slowed a bit."
The runner-up: Thanks to a runner-up finish at the season-opening Division 4 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at Royal Purple Raceway and his runner-up to Bogacki at this race, Lopez is currently ranked in the top 10 in Super Gas.
Appearing in his first national event final, Lopez, the son of longtime Division 4 racer Eli, drove his Corvette to several key wins during eliminations, including a pair of late-round victories against Ross Laris and Frank Tamborella.
Fast facts: The starting field of 61 entries featured 23 Corvette-bodied cars. ... Leonard Trahan drove to a 9.903 pass in round one to grab the top spot on the ladder. ... A number of racers topped 160 mph during eliminations, including Jim Cappiello, who had top speed of the event at 168.22 mph, which came on a perfect 9.900 pass. ... The field featured three drivers from last year's top 10: Tommy Phillips, Rustin Mayse, and Jimmy Lewis.
Did you know: Bogacki is now a perfect 3-0 in NHRA national event final rounds. His other two victories came in Super Comp at the Atlanta and Memphis events in 2009.
Quotable: "Jeff[Lopez] and I are good friends. In fact, we both got married within the last year and a half, and we were in each other's weddings. On Saturday night, we went out and were joking about how cool it would be to race in the final. Once we got there, I don't think either of us cared who won. It was really special." - Bogacki
Best packages: 1. Aaron Tatum (Oklahoma City), .010/9.901 (round two); 2. Ringguth (Grand Prairie, Alta.), .004/9.912 (round one); 3. Laris (Raceland, La.), .013/9.911 (round one). ND