Opportunities to grab a $50,000 brass-ring are very rare, to miss that occasion by three-thousandth of seconds, less than half an eye blink, is the real world drag racers have to make their peace with. At the 5th Annual Ultimate 64 Shootout, held at Edgewater Sports Park near Cincinnati, Ohio, Luke Bogacki battled his way through 63 of the top sportsman competitors in the nation to advance to a final round, missing the big bucks by lighting a excruciating .003 red light.
Bogacki says he's amused that his nearly two year old American Dragster has won four or five national events and a couple of points races.
Undeterred by his heartbreaking finals loss, Bogacki returned to the track and won the $10,000 Box Bonanza event
"It always stings. I've been racing competitively for over fifteen years now, and that was only my second $50,000 final, so I know that those chances don't come along very often," reflected Bogacki.
"It's frustrating because I feel like it's a race I could've and maybe even should've won at that point. But all-in-all, you have to put it in perspective. We had an excellent day, and the way things have been going lately that's a huge shot in the arm, both for my confidence and wallet. I don't know that the momentum carries over to the 2011 Ultimate 64, although for some reason, I've had good success at that event."
The Carterville, Illinois racer has had a string of strong showing in the Ultimate 64 Shootout. In the five years of the event, Bogacki has a pair of quarterfinal losses, a semi-final loss, and now a runner-up.
"That race, like any big dollar bracket race, is just so competitive. I'm up against 63 other excellent drivers, in 63 great cars; anyone in that field could win. If you ran that race ten times in the same weekend, I'm confident you'd have ten different winners," says Bogacki.
In racing though, one moment you're the bug, and in the next you're the windshield. Shortly after his final round heartbreaker Bogacki returned to the track to compete in that evening's Box Bonanza event, which featured a $10,000 winner's purse. After nine rounds of tough racing, he avenged himself by winning. For the day, Bogacki compiled a stellar 14-1 record, and took home over $20,000 in prize money.
"I think the confidence carries more than anything. I've always said that ‘Winning breeds winning,' and I believe that. I compete in a lot of different events, in several categories, and in various forms of vehicles. So, the momentum from a bracket win doesn't necessarily carry over to Stock Eliminator next weekend; but I think the confidence goes a long way."
Bogacki says that presently he feels very fortunate - all four of the cars he drives on a regular basis are as competitive as any cars in their category. So he has a great deal of confidence knowing he's in the fight at any event he attends.
"At the bracket races, my 2008 THisIsBracketRacing.com Dragster (a 582 cubic inch big block prepared by Huntsville Engine and Performance) is one of the best cars in the Electronics class, and my Vega is one of the best cars in the No Box class. At the NHRA events, our 2010 American Dragster has currently got one of the best Super Comp tune-ups in the country, and Bryan Robinson's Nova is a great Stock Eliminator car. Whatever the class calls for, I feel like I've got the best tools available. That's the single biggest key to the success I've enjoyed in recent seasons."
Bogacki says another key to his continuing accomplishments is the support of sponsors like K&N.
"The K&N products we use, air filters, oil filters, fuel filters, and miscellaneous vent filters, all do a phenomenal job of protecting vital engine parts and increasing performance. K&N products give me the peace of mind to focus on my job behind the wheel."
Bogacki returns to NHRA competition this weekend at the upcoming Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee and at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. After a hot start to the 2010 campaign that included four final round appearances in Super Comp and Stock Eliminator, Bogacki has turned his focus mainly to bracket competition. He currently sits in second place in the NHRA Lucas Oil national standings in both categories as he readies for the upcoming Full Throttle Series events.
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