In a spectacular showing of skill and stamina, Durand, Illinois resident Brian Folk slashed his way through seven rounds to secure his name in the record books as the 2011 Super Comp Champion for the most prestigious drag race of the entire season, the 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana.
2011 Super Comp Champion Brian Folk
Folk was double entered into the "Big Go", running in both Super Comp and Super Gas and was going strong in both categories until Sunday evening. "I lost a good race to Kevin Klineweber [eventual class winner] in Super Gas," he quickly noted. "You know, that's just one marathon of a race. By the time it was all said and done, I was there, at that track for just three hours short of a week.
Let's just say, when folks point out that a guy deserves a win because he put in his time, well we put in our time for that race. It's just so much different than when you go to a bracket race and you are there for a day or two, maybe three."
Brian Folk at the 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway
For every driver, there is a special round or two that stick out as the important or more memorable ones and for Folk, during the U.S. Nationals, his round with Shawn Langdon [also Top Fuel driver] was one of those. "It was late Sunday night and our first time on the track since the morning before. That was when we had to deal with the big weather change," he pointed out. "You know, like one hundred and one to sixty-one. [degrees] Everyone was really lost on the dial in. So to squeak past that run was very pivotal. Another round was the one earlier with Adam Gerber. I was between double-oh and thirty-two on the tree over the course of seven days on the track. That thirty-two can win you a round, but it was good that he went one red or I may not have got that one."
"It was starting to get to me a little bit as we got later in the race, just how long and drawn out everything was, and my brother Nick gave me a little pep talk," he confessed. "He's like, 'your still in with both cars, now just get out there and get 'em.' You know, we do all this because we love it and for the great folks that are on board with us like, K&N, Lunati, Dart and Wiesco."
Including Gerber, Folk had also made his way past, Majkowski and Bernier during the first three elimination rounds held on Friday and Saturday before meeting up with Langdon in round four. Where both drivers seemed to manage putting some workable numbers in for the throttle stop settings, it was Folk who had the tree down. Fold had a hefty .043 advantage over Langdon at the hit and was able to back way into him for the round win.
Super Comp wouldn't make it back on the track until very late Monday afternoon and then, the rounds would be hot and heavy. Folk first would match up with Dean Karns and while he may have lagged a little behind on the tree, how outdrove his opponent at the stripe with his 8.902 to Karns' 8.937.
With just over an hour between rounds, this certainly made for much easier throttle stop dialing than the enormous amount of time between the earlier rounds of the weekend, and Folk was more than ready for the task. Folk took the starting line advantage over Joey Cambria [.012 to .040] in the semi-finals and was able to push Cambria one full one hundredth under the 8.90 index for the win.
For the final, Folk would have to face his longtime family friend and fellow K&N racer, Britt Cummings. The two families were even pitted together during the event.
"We were all ready to go and a stocker oiled the track," he said of the moments leading up to the final. "So they [NHRA] pushed us aside and ran the pros in front of us after the cleanup. It must have been another thirty min or so before we ran."
The Super Comp cars of Folk and Cummings would be the final pair of cars down the track and wrap up the six day, 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Both very experienced drivers and either were more than capable of sealing the deal.
It would be Folk off the line first which allowed him to stay just ahead of Cummings for a holeshot 8.945 to 8.911 victory, or one-hundredth margin at the stripe. The win at "Indy" would be the second for Folk, with his last coming back in 1999 and bring his NHRA National Event Wally tally to ten.
"It's always fun when you run someone that you are truly friends with," Folk said about his final with Britt. "Of course when you put that helmet on, there are no friends. I'm there to win. It's one thing when you get beat by someone and yeah well, they were on their game that day or whatever. But when it's a buddy, you know you are going to have to hear about it for the rest of your life, whether it's to the good or to the bad."
"So now, we could be out doing something together and if he says something smart I can say, you know I remember when somebody was forty-eight on the tree in the final of the U.S. Nationals, what the heck were you looking at," he jokingly added.
"It was really all just great," he said of the win and of the top end celebration. "By the time we got finished with contingency and pictures, which pictures are worth a thousand words to me, I love taking pictures [laughs], by the time we got back to the pit, it was like 8:30 that night. We had quite a little party in the pit that night between the families. We even ordered pizzas and had them delivered to the track."
"I just have to say that it was total fatigue for all of us after being in one place for that long," he added. "There are a lot of people that made the win possible and one of them is my dad [Ron Folk]. I owe him a lot, he taught me everything I know about racing. Others are the great companies that work with us, like K&N. Steve Williams from K&N was there all week and he's such a great guy, plus Bob Harris takes really good care of our whole team. I just can't say enough good about K&N, you know with the way they support the sportsman racers. I mean, they just do so much for the sportsman racers."
"From their oil filters to their air filters, we use it all and have always been more than happy with K&N's products," he noted. "Everything K&N offers, it's top of the line stuff."
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