Charter Communications / Attitude Apparel Pro Stock driver Rodger Brogdon will not only celebrate a birthday this week but also put the finishing touches on his first full-time NHRA Pro Stock season this weekend. "It has been an incredible ride...
Charter Communications / Attitude Apparel Pro Stock driver Rodger Brogdon will not only celebrate a birthday this week but also put the finishing touches on his first full-time NHRA Pro Stock season this weekend.
"It has been an incredible ride and a learning experience," Brogdon said, as he prepared for his trip to Pomona's season-ending NHRA Auto Club Finals. "I've learned a lot as a driver and we did the same as a team. Headed into this season we had realistic expectations and now those goals are beginning to materialize. They've always said it's not how you start a race that counts, its how you finish, and I believe we're closing out our first full season on a high note."
After struggling in the first four races (the team missed the season opener in Pomona) they scored a major coup when they signed an engine program with Victor Cagnazzi. The Cagnazzi alliance though provided more than just horsepower. It also provided personal additions that included crew chief Tommy Utt and engine man Brian Claas, and in their first race together, the NHRA Southern Nationals, Brogdon scored his first Pro Stock win of 2009 by beating Ron Krisher on a holeshot.
"In Atlanta Tommy was able to get the car dialed in so that we could get the power we had to the ground," said Brogdon. "After that began the process of finessing literally every component in our Pontiac to be able to extract every last bit of E.T. the car is capable of. Pro Stock requires perfection, as every piece of the car has to work in perfect harmony with every other component, and that includes the driver. As we began to get the car dialed in it became necessary for me to make adjustments in the way I was driving the car. As the car became quicker, I had to adapt as well, and it took seat-time and laps down track to figure out both the physical and the mechanical adjustments we needed to make."
"Our performance in Denver told us we were making the progress we'd been looking for," Brogdon said. "Yet a couple of minor changes in our set-up begin to affect the way the car was launching, and it took us too many laps to find our errors and get back on track. Frustrating, yes, but every team out here has done it, it's just part of the learning process that everyone goes through to find what does and doesn't work."
"We knew going into Indy that we were finally on the right track," said Rodger, "we just needed to start putting it all together," and Indy proved to be the turning point. Despite early carburetor issues during qualifying, Brogdon thundered his way to the quarter-finals. His finest moment at the NHRA U.S. Nationals was beating Allen Johnson on a holeshot. He lost to point leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. in round two.
"I think the four race swing late in the season really showed just how much this team had matured," said Brogdon. "We had some ups and downs earlier during the western swing, yet we were able to qualify well and put some round wins under our belt during the late season marathon of events. Since Indy we've won rounds at five of six events, including the last four in a row. Are we where we want to be, no, but we're continuing to go in the right direction, and that's what's most important."
"Vegas was a bit disappointing, we qualified well and with the way we were running we really felt like we could have made at least the semi finals," Brogdon admitted. "Our goal at the start of the season was to take home a Wally, Vegas was a golden opportunity that we let slip through our fingers. It looks like we'll just have to try harder at Pomona."
As for beyond this weekend's event, Brogdon said he's got a few surprises up his sleeve. With the Pro Stock landscape expected to be dramatically different, he believes 2010 could be his best opportunity to establish his role as a championship contender.
"We've got a new car being built, our first car that will be built to fit my six feet tall plus frame." Brogdon said. "Our race shop is done, so we now have a home base for the rig and guys to test and work out of, and we've renewed our deal with (Victor) Cagnazzi to supply us with power for at least another season.
"Beyond that we have some discussions ongoing that could enable us to stir up the pot even more for next year, hopefully we'll know more in the next few weeks. All I can say is stay tuned."