Loves Park, IL - John Frana and his #907 RCV Performance/”the Official” Brand Name Prescription Card/Rooster Synthetics/FK Rod Ends Honda-powered AWD Super Buggy made a last minute decision to come to Charlotte and the end result was a pair of podium finishes. The Super Buggy division was added to the PRO-Truck program as TORC continues to expand the footprint of short-course off-road racing.
After fellow Super Buggy competitor Steve Krieman convinced Frana to race Charlotte, the two drivers wired Frana’s truck for trailer lights and towed Krieman’s trailer to NASCAR land. The two Illinois drivers arrived at the track early Friday morning. When the sun came up over the track a few hours later, Frana took a quick view of the track and headed for tech inspection.
The temporary .9 mile long circuit had various combinations of moguls, whoops, and jumps making it a very tough track for drivers to get a good set-up on their race vehicles.
Then almost immediately after PRO truck practice, the Super Buggy group hit the track for a combination practice and qualifying session. After all the times were counted, the RCV Performance Super Buggy qualified third quickest.
“The track looked mild from the stands but it was the roughest I’ve ever driven on with nonstop jumps and turns,” remarked Frana after practice. “It will be a fun, but tiring 16 laps.”
After practice, John’s father, who flew out to help with the team, fixed an electric cooling fan problem and then the two family members went over the race car one more time to ensure it was race ready.
The start of the Friday night feature had John on the front row thanks to TORC inverting the starting positions of the top four qualifiers. One added feature to Friday’s racing was the live broadcast of the entire night of racing on SPEED.
When the green flag was waved, John grabbed the lead hoping his AWD hot rod would give him an early advantage on the freshly watered track. The first three laps of the sixteen lap event had the #907 Super Buggy leading the pack. Then the hard charging teenage Mitchell DeJong made a clean pass over the table top jump to take over the lead. As the laps continued, the transmission on the exotic Super Buggy was giving John some problems. Eventually the issues prevented the use of second and fifth gears.
The race did have its exciting moments for Frana. The wildest incident was when Frana was racing through the fastest portion of the track and practically jumped over a sideways Bob Klaus and landed on the hood of Klaus. Somehow the incident didn’t cause any damage and the two racers continued to the checkered flag.
At the finish the Frana Vehicles Super Buggy finished on the podium in third place on the bumper of second place finisher Andy Zipperer.
“We will try to rest and get some sleep tonight and then replace the transmission tomorrow after breakfast,” noted John Frana. “We didn’t drive across the country to finish third.”
On a side note, Frana and his crew chief Ryan Brumund experimented with new body work for Friday’s race and it paid off as the engine water temperature was thirty degrees lower than during the 2011 race season.
The next morning the gearbox swap went without any problems and gave John several hours to relax before hitting the track.
Saturday night’s starting lineup had John starting from the second row. When the race started the AWD Super Buggy quickly moved in the second position behind Steve Krieman. Just before the midway point competition caution, Mitchell DeJong swept by John, as well as the leader, moving the #907 in third place at the break.
On the restart, DeJong had mechanical issues and dropped off the pace. Now John and good friend Steve Krieman were in a tight battle for the top spot. With six laps to go, John made the pass for the lead. It looked like the #907 RCV Performance/”the Official” Brand Name Prescription Card/Rooster Synthetics/FK Rod Ends Honda-powered AWD Super Buggy would take the win, but a rear tire went flat with just two laps from the finish. This slowed John’s pace just enough for Krieman to take the top spot a mere one hundred yards from the finish.
Afterwards John Frana commented: “Wow what a battle, the flat tire cost us the win, but to race with Steve as close as we did from start to finish made it the most intense race I’ve ever driven. Finishing on the podium both nights was great. Steve and I will be full of adrenaline with plenty to discuss on our ride back home….That’s for sure.”
You can watch XSAN’s internet broadcast of Saturday night’s Super Buggy race on the internet, anytime at: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22025676