K&N's Luke Bogacki has always been known for his prowess at many of the big money bracket races across the country and with his latest feat, is becoming known for his growing list of NHRA National event victories. With just one event under Bogacki's belt in his brand new 1963 Corvette bodied Charlie Stewart Race Cars roadster only the week before, he took his new Super Gas ride all the way to the championship during the 25th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals in Baytown, Texas. The victory came for Bogacki and the new car during its first NHRA National event.
Jeff and I grew up together and we have been really close friend for about twenty or so years. I mean just recently, I was in his wedding and he was in my wedding, we go way back.
"I knew we would be competitive in Super Gas eventually," said Bogacki. "Charlie and his team build a great car, and we bolted on nothing but the best components. Plus, my team is really fortunate to have support from some excellent sponsors and we've got a decent database for throttle stop tune-ups and settings. But I never dreamed it would all come together this quickly. To win in our first national event is beyond my wildest dreams."
While the Super Gas national event crown was the first in the category for Bogacki, he had two prior national victories already to his credit both coming in Super Comp for the well-known sportsman racer.
"The fit and finish on this new car is something else," said Bogacki. "I've really been impressed and it has performed meticulously from the start. Charlie has helped out a lot on the tune up and some little odds and ends here and there. He actually incorporated into the body the K&N Pro Stock composite scoop that also has the slide-in K&N filter in the front part of the scoop. Not only is it a good looking scoop, as far as my vision it doesn't impede it like the ones that were on a couple of other roadsters that I have raced where you wouldn't really want to run the left lane against a slower car, because you would kind of lose them [in your sight] as you went down track. I don't have that problem with the K&N scoop on this car."
Bogacki started off Super Gas eliminations by getting a little revenge on Salter, who he bowed out to the week before, defeating him in round one with a nice opening .006 reaction time. Moving on to round two, the car showed it was as dialed as the driver as Bogacki took his new ride to a near perfect 9.902 to send home Reggie Baudoin. Bogacki gathered a little luck over Hugh Hawkins in round three when Hawkins dipped under the index to Bogacki's .022 reaction and 9.921.
Bogacki used his .006 starting line advance to push Lopez into a 9.878 breakout for a third NHRA national event triumph in as many final round appearances.
Now that the Super Gas category was down to eight cars, normally that would have ended eliminations for the day and save the remaining three rounds for Sunday. That wouldn't be the case for this event as NHRA ran the class all the way down to four cars. While it worked out well for K&N's Bogacki, he was actually hoping to hold off his next round pairing for the following day.
"Travis Ringguth is the defending Division 6 Super Street champion," He explained of his quarter-final match up. "He was driving his Super Street car in Super Gas and I really didn't race him to begin with, but certainly didn't care to Saturday night. The two previous rounds he'd been 9.90 wide open. He left the starting line with a .003 reaction time and I was just fortunate that he didn't make one of his better runs. He was only 9.932 and I was able to get there with my .006 light and just four thousandths at the stripe."
When a sportsman racer has been fortunate enough to make it to Sunday's eliminations during a NHRA national event, depending on your class, it can already be a long enough day waiting to make your next round due to all the festivities and professional class eliminations. Since Super Gas only had two remaining rounds, the wait for Bogacki and his fellow three racers was even longer for the Houston event. "You wake up pretty excited because obviously you are still in at a NHRA national event, but you know you are going to sit through pre-race and a couple of professional rounds," he explained. "But it was even compounded because we had to sit out the first round of sportsman eliminations that day, since we only had the two rounds left. I knew I wasn't going to be out on the track until 3 or 3:30 that day and I just tried to keep myself busy and not think about it too much until it was time to go."
By the time Sunday's semi-final rolled around Bogacki was more than ready to tackle his next competitor, Lloyd Parfait in what would be a close double breakout match, 9.872 to 9.864. That win would not only send Bogacki to his first NHRA national event final in the brand new car, but also to battle it out with multi-time NHRA Division 4 Champion, Jeff Lopez who is also one of Bogacki's very best friends.
"Jeff and I grew up together and we have been really close friends for about twenty or so years. I mean just recently, I was in his wedding and he was in my wedding, we go way back," noted Bogacki. "When we made it all the way down to the semifinal round on Saturday night, Jeff and I knew the opportunity was there to run one another in the final. We had gone to dinner Saturday night and even joked about how cool it would be if we could pull it off. When we both ended up winning in the semi's, that was like winning the whole event right there. I don't think it mattered to either of us who got to hoist the trophy in the end, it was just really cool getting to share the final round stage with one another."
When the final round came, Bogacki used his .006 starting line advance to push Lopez into a 9.878 breakout for a third NHRA national event triumph in as many final round appearances. In addition to the win being his first in Super Gas it was also his first in front of the big Sunday crowd as his prior two wins came during events where the finals were weather delayed and pushed into Monday. "I came into the race really confident because I felt like I had a really good car," he admitted. "But really it's so rare that everything just falls into place that quickly. That win was just really cool being able to be a part of all the festivities, being on the winner's stage and everything else. That was just really neat."
"If you look back at the event round by round, I didn't really do anything special as a driver," confessed the K&N racer. "I made a couple nice runs, but I was pretty erratic on the tree. My car really bailed me out, and I got some breaks. I raced six really talented opponents, all very good racers. I was just fortunate that none of them made their best runs beside me. And as we all know, that's what it takes. It's not who you race, it's when you race them and I seemed to have really good timing last weekend."
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