With the kickoff for the 2012 season on the horizon, Rodger Brogdon has set his goals for the upcoming Full Throttle championship run, and while the goals resemble those set last year the resolve to attain those goals is much, much stronger.
Although the quest in 2011 came up short of the top five points finish and a national event win or two that he had hoped to achieve, Brogdon knows that both of his goals were there for the taking, they just ended up a few thousandths of a second beyond the team's reach.
The national event win that eluded Brogdon at Houston was decided by .0016 seconds in one of the closest final rounds of the entire season.
"That final round at Houston was certainly a heartbreaker, we were nose to nose at the stripe and it was absolutely anyone's race to win, we just came up an inch or two short," Brogdon said. "Don't ask my Dad about it though, he still isn't convinced we lost that one and he has his own, shall we say, very descriptive term for how we lost.
Going into the Finals at Pomona, Brogdon was seventh in points but when qualifying was done, the way the eliminations ladder played out, the opportunity existed to claim a top five finish with a final round showing.
"One of the most frustrating days of my racing career though was Sunday at Pomona," he said. "With all we'd been through last year, with all of our ups and downs ... the pairings were in our favor and the car was responding to our input, things were looking good. Then we came up four thou' short against (Greg) Stanfield in the second round, losing on a hole shot. Hole shot losses never sit well with me anyway, but that one really stung, because it gave Stanfield the opportunity to actually kick us back to eighth in the final standings when he went on to win the event. Like I said, it was a very frustrating day."
The off season has been anything but down time for Brogdon with the team devoting itself to a stronger run in 2012. Multiple test sessions have seen the Tim Freeman led crew attack numerous facets of their race day combinations.
"While Cagnazzi's engine shop works on finding us every last ounce of power they can, we've tested so many different combinations it would make your head spin," Brogdon said. "Chassis combos, clutches, headers, carburetors -- you name it, we've tested it. And noted every response to every change.
"We've also burnt-in numerous sets of tires to have them ready for this year. We are going into this season with more information and preparation than we ever have and to a man, we all feel that we will be as solid a contender for the championship as anyone else."
After a final test session in Vegas to wrap up the off season the team will head to Pomona with but one goal on their mind, leave with the Wally. For Brogdon, the drive to the championship has already begun.