Sometimes a driver just has a special or a favorite track to compete at and after the 2011 NHRA GatorNationals one could be sure that for Rodger Brogdon, driver of The Racers Edge Pontiac GTO, Gainesville Raceway is right at the top.
The Racers Edge Pontiac GTO and Rodger Brogdon
"A lot of people don't know it, but this is the first national event I ever went to when I started drag racing - probably 1984," said Brogdon a former sportsman competitor who has competed in both Super Stock and Competition Eliminator classes.
Brogdon, who had been looking for his first Pro Stock career number one qualifier, took full advantage of the fantastic cool-dry air during Friday's first qualifying session. It was the type of air that the crew chiefs for the naturally aspirated Pro Stock cars dream about and Brogdon's team wasn't the only one who laid down some mighty nice numbers during the session.
During that first session, K&N's Mike Edwards laid down a 6.496 at 213.47 and for only a brief moment enjoyed having posted the quickest and fastest pass in NHRA Pro Stock history, but in the very next pair, Brogdon's team had something just a little bit better.
"We knew when the weekend started that Friday's weather was going to provide all of us with ample opportunity to run some very stout numbers. With cool, dry air and a rising barometer everyone in the category was salivating at the opportunities," he reflected. "The media was all abuzz wondering who was going to run the first 6.4 second run in Pro Stock history, and I'll guarantee you my name never came up. Mike Edwards made his lap right in front of us in that opening session and certainly surprised no one when he went 6.496. When we went 6.495 right behind him, I just knew that someone behind us would run a 6.48 and honestly I was surprised when it didn't happen."
It continued to be quite an exciting day of qualifying for Brogdon and his team as they managed to back up their efforts in session number one to clinch the NHRA National Pro Stock E.T. record in the process, just missing out on grabbing the MPH record as well. Brogdon had tied Erica Enders for the National Speed record, but in this case, Erica had the tie-breaker.
On Saturday the teams continued to push the envelope in the outstanding air conditions and get their final tune-ups in place for Sunday's eliminations.
Brogdon continued to hang near the top of the pack in each session also gaining important championship bonus points by posting the third quickest pass in session three and the quickest in the fourth and final session on Saturday. Doing so, Brogdon became the fifty-fifth driver in NHRA history to qualify number one in Pro Stock and in National ET record style.
"To run the laps we did this weekend and get our first #1 qualifying spot is a testament to the guys on our team. We busted our butts testing this week in Bradenton and brought what we learned there to the race this weekend. The runs we made yesterday & today averaged out to a 6.504, and that is truly incredible when you consider the national record coming into this weekend was 6.509. When we break down and review our runs the 6.495 was a good run, but actually our run today was even better, because the 6.516 we ran in the final session corrected to a 6.481," he said.
"To my guys THAT was our run of the weekend," he added.
In addition to the $3,000 number one qualifier bonus Brogdon and his The Racers Edge team picked up during the GatorNationals, their efforts also moved them closer to the all-important top seven in the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge, now sitting just twenty-five points behind Shane Gray.
The top seven in the point standings, along with a fan voted eighth Pro Stock driver, will vie for the largest single payday in NHRA Pro Stock and the $50,000 check for the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge Champion.
"We really appreciate the support K&N gives to the Pro Stock class with the Horsepower Challenge. Letting the fans vote last year made it even more interesting and gave several of the teams the opportunity to become quite creative in their solicitation of the fan vote," noted Brogdon, who campaigned quite heavily for the 2010 fan vote but secured his spot in the shootout by earning enough points on his own and a shot at the crown.
One can only guess that when Brogdon first took to the historic Gainesville Raceway some twenty-seven years ago in Super Stock for his first ever NHRA National Event, he could have only dreamed of the record-setting weekend he would have in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class come 2011.
The teams have two weeks off before their next event unfolds at The Strip at LVMS and the Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals, April 1-3.
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