When one races as much as Luke Bogacki does, and as successfully as he has been over the years, it may be hard for some to fathom that he still has quite a few items to check off of his drag racing bucket list. But after his weekend competing in Brainerd, Minnesota for the 31st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the Carterville, Illinois resident marked one more off that list when he put both of his K&N/ThisIsBracketRacing.com entries into their respective final rounds, winning Super Gas and taking the runner-up honors in Super Comp. Luke Bogacki made his first double final at a NHRA national event.
Luke Bogacki made his first NHRA national event double final at Brainerd International Raceway
Super Gas Win for Luke Bogacki at 31st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota
"I got really lucky when I ran Jerry Hoss," he said of his first round of Super Comp. "He runs 8.90 at like 138 [MPH] and by the time I realized that I was going by him, it was really too late and I really got on the brakes and still got to the finish line first and ran an 8.902. So that was my lucky win there and doubly lucky because the 8.902 ended up being low qualifier and gave me a bye in the second round when we were all put on the ladder."
After his single in round two, Bogacki and his 2010 K&N American dragster would face Kevin Dyck, and Bogacki was looking for a better outcome than their last meeting on the track. "It was a round I was a little concerned about," he confessed of round three. "He beat me in the semi's there at the division race. He's a really good driver and has a great tune-up. I was fortunate that round when he missed the tree a little bit and was a little slow in his time."
Bogacki's .013 starting line advantage over Dyck allowed him to take the stripe for the holeshot win and make it look great for those watching the boards with his 8.934 to Dyck's 8.933. He would do it all over again in round four. After another consistent near perfect light, Bogacki sent his next competitor packing by grabbing just enough stripe to turn on his win light and a second holeshot victory, 8.929 to Steven Michaels' 8.924.
The next round of Super Comp was a chance to Bogacki to grab what doesn't happen very often in NHRA racing, a second scheduled bye, but first he would need to get past Steve Evans. "I know he has more mile-per-hour than I do and when I saw the time slip, he has a 1.34 60ft, when he's normally 1.60-something," he explained. "So, I didn't get a chance to talk to him later, but with his .032 red, he must have had some kind of mechanical problem, but I don't know what it was."
Evans' red light meant Bogacki was going to final in Super Comp by now earning his second bye of the race and this wasn't the only bye into the final that he now had earned. Bogacki has also been slaying the driver's in the other lane in the very similar Super Gas category. "In both classes, the opportunity to get the bye into the final was very cool and Super Comp was actually my second quarterfinal of the day, so when his red-light came on and I knew I was going to two finals and that was a heck of a feeling."
But to get that rare shot at doubling up at an NHRA national event, the K&N racer would not only have to do some tremendous driving, but have a few of those fortunate Super Gas rounds along the way in his '63 Corvette Roadster that he had also enjoyed in Super Comp.
It all started with his Super Gas round one match up when his opponent was leaking on the line and was shut off, allowing Bogacki a single run and a chance to tighten his tune-up that much more for the coming rounds and that would prove to be a lethal thing for the rest of the Super Gas drivers who would cross Bogacki's path over the remainder of eliminations.
Since this was only his third appearance to run the Brainerd national event, Bogacki points out that he isn't as familiar with the group of racers this event draws, as he may be at other venues. "No, I'm blind to most of these guys. I've been running division five this year, but Brainerd is so far removed from the rest of the division, a lot of the guys I just didn't have a lot of background information on at all."
And for "Cool Hand Luke", that didn't seem to be a problem. He continued his winning ways as he trailered Doug Legner, Chris Bishop and Troy Coughlin, Jr. in rounds two, three and four, each time taking a great starting line advantage that helped him tickle the win light on in his lane.
His next little bit of Super Gas luck came in the quarterfinals where he would have his first meeting of the day with Steve Mikus. Just like every round before, Bogacki still had the lead at the hit, but this time it was by the smallest margin of all his rounds [.005] and would make for some super tight top end racing where both seasoned drivers took their rides well under the 9.90 index, both trying extra hard to earn the bye into the Super Gas final.
"I think what I had going for me in that round was that it was the first round of the day on Sunday," he noted. "Mikus is running that Nova wide-open when he runs it in Super Gas and he's not using a [throttle] stop. He's a very talented racer and the best time to run him if you have to, is the first run of the day. Obviously, we were both a lot faster than we thought we would be and I just came out on the right end of it."
"When I made both of the bye runs, I was just really trying to get some incremental numbers in both cars and to be honest, just take it all in," he admitted. "I mean this was a great opportunity to be in two finals and I probably looked up in the stands a little more and actually took a deep breath and thought to myself, "This is pretty cool."
Now Bogacki found himself in two finals at a NHRA national event for the first time in his racing career. Being in two finals, whether it's your first time or tenth, can make things very tight jumping from one car to the next all while keeping up with the amount of time you are allowed to return to the staging lanes with the next car. NHRA officials ran Super Gas first and moved Super Comp to the end of the order, allowing Bogacki just enough time to switch cars.
In his first final, Bogacki sewed up the first half of a possible double when Mark McMasters just couldn't run the number. "I never got a chance to talk to him later, but he was about where he was supposed to be at about 1000' and then his car laid over," he reflected. "I'm assuming that he broke. My car was running really good and I liked my chances of winning it, but it was a tough break for him."
One NHRA national event Wally in hand and his second this year in Super Gas, Bogacki returned to the staging lanes in his dragster to face Steve Mikus one more time, but for Bogacki the tables would turn from their earlier match up.
Mikus took just a slight .004 starting line advantage and with just a .007 margin at the stripe, denied Bogacki of his first NHRA national double, as they both went under the 8.90 index and Mikus closer to the number. "It was a heck of a race and obviously I was really disappointed not to see my win light come on and have the chance to double," he said. "But like I told [Alan] Reinhart on stage that you are not going to run someone the caliber of Mikus and beat him twice in one day."
Bogacki is always quick to credit the companies and the products that get him to his numerous final rounds and wins, including his latest accolade during the 31st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd and top of his list is K&N Engineering. "That's a lot of rounds to put together and you need to count on the cars being there and being consistent," he said. "The dragster is loaded with K&N products from the 1st Gen composite scoop, oil filter and miscellaneous K&N filters throughout the car. The Corvette has K&N's complete induction setup with the Pro Stock scoop, the sealer tray, the air filter insert to the oil filter. I probably sound like a broken record but K&N is the leading supplier in the filtration industry and their products just provide the highest peace of mind for us when we are out there doing what we do."
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