MAVTV pro Brogdon glad to be heading back to Gainesville
TOMBALL, TX – Mention the 2011 race at Gainesville, and a smile comes to MAVTV/Lucas Oil driver Rodger Brogdon.
Brogdon earned his first No. 1 qualifier in the competitive Pro Stock class last year at Gainesville, making a pass of 6.495 seconds at 213.57 mph. His elapsed time stood as the national record until Jason Line grabbed it at Maple Grove later in the year.
Still, despite falling in the semifinals at Gainesville last season, Brogdon heads back to Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville for the Tire Kingdom 42nd annual NHRA Gatornationals with fond memories.
"It was very good, I don't mind telling you," Brogdon said. "It was very exciting for my team. We had a good run after that. We were fast the next few races and won a few rounds – before our midseason slump started. That's our main goal this year: Avoid the midseason slump."
Brogdon, fourth in the Pro Stock points standings, has had a solid start to this season, winning three rounds in two races and advancing to the semifinals in the most recent race at Phoenix.
"I don't know if I would say we didn't deserve it; we did it," Brogdon said of the Phoenix race, where he knocked off two higher-qualified cars before falling in the semis to Greg Anderson. "I wouldn't give it back for nothing. It gave my team a little boost, a little confidence. The last couple of years, we'd think we'd run a perfect race, and it seemed like we couldn't get a break. I told my guys after the last race, 'Well, we got back a couple this race, boys.' Maybe things are turning around."
Brogdon is not a believer in momentum in racing, despite his team's talk.
"I try not to be, but most of the guys on the team are that way," Brogdon said. "And they're very superstitious. I'm battling different things with these guys. If we go out there and do well this weekend, they're going to really be on that momentum deal."
But Brogdon knows you have to take each race one at a time, no matter the performance in the previous race. The MAVTV Pontiac team is testing this week in Bradenton, Fla., in preparation of what is usually a fast field of Pro Stock cars in Gainesville.
"We're always getting something new to try, new ideas to run through this thing," Brogdon said. "You can't do it at a national meet, and you can't really learn if you go somewhere where you're by yourself or with one or two cars. But here, heck, between the Pro Mods and us, we might have 20 cars down here. We'll have plenty of guys going down the track."
Brogdon will also drive teammate Steve Kent's car during the test, attempting to make at least five runs per day in each car.
Brogdon, who won the Gatornationals title in Competition Eliminator in 2008, was having one of his best weekends as a pro at Gainesville last year before a mechanical problem ended his day.
"No telling what would've happened last year," said Brogdon, who is looking for his first Pro Stock victory. "In the semis against Greg, my two-step on the clutch pedal broke. If you can little bitty things like that behind you, it'll be good."
Qualifying rounds will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday with eliminations slated to begin at noon Sunday. ESPN2 will show qualifying highlights from 5-6 p.m. Sunday with eliminations airing from 6-9 p.m. Sunday.