Some seasons, championships are won by pure domination and others by a driver or team's constant persistence throughout the year. The latter would be true for Jimmy DeFrank who was recently crowned as the 2011 NHRA LODRS Div 7 Super Stock Champion after what he refers to as somewhat of a struggle during the course of the year.
2011 NHRA LODRS Div 7 Super Stock Champion Jimmy DeFrank
Jimmy DeFrank's NHRA Super Stock Chevy Cobalt
DeFrank, who hails from Chatsworth, California, notes that he wishes the 2010 Cobalt that he competes with in SS/BS had been set up all season, as they had it for the final division event in Las Vegas. "During the season we kept changing things and trying to make performance improvements," he pointed out. "And we were struggling to try to win rounds and win races. For the last race in Vegas, we put the car back to a set up that we are familiar with, which is also a set up that we have won a national championship with in 2009 and the very first race out, going back to that set-up we won the event. We really learned our lesson there and that taught us a lot."
Over the season, DeFrank had several Super Stock final round appearances on both the national and divisional scene including the WinterNationals, the SportsNationals event in Fontana and during the spring division event in Las Vegas - all runner-up finishes and he was looking to finish the job before the season came to a close.
He is certainly no stranger to the championship podium. DeFrank currently owns three NHRA National Championships and with his latest accomplishment in 2011, he has now acquired a total of nine championships on the divisional level. "We were just so excited to win the championship," he said. "When you start racing, you just don't think about that stuff. When we look back now and think, 'Wow, that makes our ninth', it is pretty amazing."
In addition to his Super Stock ride, Jimmy also very successfully wheels a 1969 Chevy Camaro in Stock. "We didn't race that car very much during 2011, since we were really focusing primarily on Super Stock," he admitted. "But for all the more than we had it out, we had some good races and final rounds in that car, too. Next year we are going to try to race both classes on a fulltime basis."
Every racer has their own way of approaching each event, or one may call it their style of racing. DeFrank is no different and where he qualifies on the ladder is very important to him, no matter if it's in his Stock or Super Stock Car. "We run the cars fairly conservative and that helps with their consistency," he explained. "We take the same approach with both cars and we kind of try to choose the best spot on the ladder that we can, although everyone is so good. Each year racers get better and it keeps getting tougher."
For DeFrank's final divisional event of the season, not only did he want to take care of the rounds he needed to seal the championship, but he was also looking to grab his first race win of the season and with time quickly running out, the pressure was on. "It was such a big race for us," he said. "Going into that race, we hadn't won a race all season. We had just been straggling and got off our game. Going into that race in Vegas, we were second in the divisional points, with a chance to win the division. During the summer, when things were just not going well for us, we never really thought we would have a shot at it."
Just like his entire season, even for this event things weren't going to be easy. "It rained during one of the qualifiers," he noted. "So we only had one qualifier pass for the event and needless to say, our nerves were up a little bit. We got by first round on Saturday night and all of the competitors that all had a shot at the championship, all lost first round. That was such a great break for us, because now all we had to do was win second round to close the divisional championship."
DeFrank would have to wait until Sunday morning for second round and when he made it past DeCarlo and won the championship, emotions were running high. "There was such a ease and a peace about that," he confessed. "To struggle like we did and then still win the championship, we were just so thankful and excited and after that, it just really took the pressure off."
He may have had the championship in his back pocket, but he didn't want to go out winless for the season and had some heavy hitters to get through if he wanted to make that happen. "Third round, we had one of the best racers and fellow K&N racer, Dan Fletcher," he reflected. "We were happy to get by Dan, who is so good. Anytime you can get by Dan, it's kinda like winning a race. So that kind of set the tone for the rest of the race."
Even though they were racing in the desert, it actually became too cold to continue and the race was held over until Monday. "When we came back in the morning, we kept the car set up exactly the same as we had had it for our run with Dan," said DeFrank. "One by one we went through the rounds and won the race. It was just all so big for us and such a relief to win that race and everything."
"Vegas was such a confidence booster, we didn't want the season to end," he continued. "We just wanted to keep going and go right into the WinterNationals. That win and that championship felt like such a big comeback for us after the way our summer months went."
Both DeFrank's Stock and Super Stock cars utilize K&N air and oil filters and in addition to protecting his power plants with K&N, DeFrank is also very pleased with the K&N scoop on his Super Stock Cobalt. "My dad has always had the belief that you must use the absolute best-best quality products available , because by doing so, you have much better reliability and chance to win rounds and races. K&N is the very best in any product that they sell and not only just the products, the company as a whole is just awesome. Using the highest quality products is such a big part of being successful, it really does help you win races."
And for Jimmy DeFrank, not just races but many more championships.
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