Now that 2011 is finally behind us we can talk smack about it. Based primarily on observation and feedback, for many, last year was more about survival and adaptation to change than it was about major strides forward. There were as always exceptions, but muddling-on was a preeminent theme for most. Ending the year on a high-note became the coveted brass-ring, a way to restore order heading into 2012. For K&N's Luke Bogacki the sweet taste of positivity came in the form of a pair of $5,000 wins at Palm Beach International Raceway 5-Day Bracket Championships.
A pair of $5,000 wins at Palm Beach International Raceway 5-Day Bracket Championships was the season ending high note Bogacki was looking for.
"It was a nice shot in the arm and created some much needed momentum going into the offseason. 2011 wasn't one of my better years on the race track, but ending on a high note was great to end with the season on such a positive," said Bogacki.
Bogacki kicked off the weekend with a $5,000 win in the 1/8th mile event behind the wheel of his familiar ThisIsBracketRacing.com backed American Race Cars dragster. After winning the opening round with a .014 reaction time, Bogacki put on a starting line clinic, posting reaction times ranging from .000 to .008 in the remaining seven rounds to earn the victory. His win was highlighted by back-to-back .006 packages in rounds 3 and 4, and a .002 package in the semi-final round. In the final, he used another great .001 reaction time to take the advantage over Gene Drogan and slowed to a 4.596 on his 4.58 dial to take the victory by .010 of a second.
Luke Bogacki staged and waiting for the green.
After a blown engine in round 3 that his crew replaced in a Herculean effort, and a rain delay, when the action finally resumed Bogacki picked up right where he'd left off, rolling through the opening four rounds of competition with reaction times varying from .003 to .009. When eliminations resumed, Bogacki posted a .002 package to dispose of good friend Jason Lynch in the quarterfinal round. He then used another pair of strong reaction times (.009 and .010) to defeat a red-lighting Mike Ledford in the semi-final round and red-hot Jesse Alberts in the final stanza.
"I was really happy with my driving," said Bogacki. "To be .00 on the tree 13 out of 16 rounds, or whatever it was, is great."
Your reaction times were off the hook. Is there something in particular you do off track to hone that skill, or have you always had faster than average reflexes?
"Not really. I'm not a huge advocate of practice trees to be honest. I think it's very hard to duplicate the factors in play when you're actually at the track. When you look at it from afar, consistent reaction times really shouldn't be difficult: the goal of reacting to a light by releasing a button is a pretty simple idea. I think as racers we make it a lot harder than it has to be. The key for me at least, is a concentration and focus ritual that allows me to basically turn my brain off momentarily once I stage. At that point 'thinking' just detracts from my ability to react. It's easier said than done, and like anyone I have good days and bad. The weekend at PBIR was obviously very good. The .00 reaction times built confidence on my part and it just snowballed, a .00 light builds confidence, confidence creates more .00 lights, etc."
Looking back at 2011 what would you say were the highlights that got you pumped and what was the low point that you just had to muddle through?
Luke Bogacki has his priorities in order and keeps them at his side, his mother Ellen Bogacki, and fiancée Jessica Camden (soon to be wife: Jan 21).
"The highlight for my season wasn't a huge win, although I had a couple. In fact, it wasn't a win at all. In early August I got the chance to race my fiancée, Jessica, in the final round of Super Pro at our home track, I-57 Dragstrip in Benton, Illinois. She beat me in the final. It was just a regular weekly event at home, but it was one of my best racing memories."
"On the low point, I don't know if I can single out one particular low point in 2011. I just had a lot of parts breakage, and that took its toll on resources, confidence, and stamina. On the whole, I tore up five motors in 2011 alone."
Having said that what's your overall feeling about last season?
"As a whole, my results weren't great, but overall I feel like my program progressed and we're better for it. Plus we had a lot of fun throughout the season."
So how much are you looking forward to the 2012 season, and have you set any goals you'd care to share?
"I don't know that I've ever been more excited about an upcoming season than I am for 2012. We've been fortunate to align with several companies that believe in our effort and that has allowed us to pursue 2012 with greater resources and better equipment than ever before. I have a new '63 Corvette Roadster on the way from Charlie Stewart Race Cars, and I'll run an aggressive NHRA schedule. We'll compete for the Lucas Oil national championship in both Super Comp and Super Gas. Obviously, that's the goal coming into the season for everyone, but I'd be very satisfied with a top-ten finish in each class. A division title is a huge goal in 2012 as well."
Thanks to his weekend at PBIR, Bogacki closed his 2011 campaign with 12 victories in 20 final round appearances.
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