Down to his last chance to win a world championship in the American Drag Racing Leagueâ€™s (ADRL) Pro Junior Dragster class, Alexander Oppen didnâ€™t rely on anything fancy.
Instead, one consistent performance after another did the trick.
Oppen delivered a workmanlike performance in 2012 and the results paid off in a major way as the talented driver laid claim to his first ADRL world championship, getting the ultimate send-off in his successful Pro Junior Dragster career.
â€œOur top goal this year was definitely winning the championship,â€ Oppen said. â€œThe key was really being consistent, going rounds and gaining the points. That was really our objective. Winning a race would have been nice, but winning a championship is just a great feeling.
The pure joy for Oppen was mixed with a bittersweet feeling of knowing his PJD days are now behind him, but the talented driverâ€™s drag racing career is just beginning.
He takes plenty of momentum into the next chapter of his young career after three successful seasons on the ADRLâ€™s PJD circuit.
Oppen, who has one career ADRL win, was the class runner-up in 2010 and then finished third a year ago.
Not satisfied with that, Oppen took one last crack at the world title in 2012, but it wouldnâ€™t be easy with PJDâ€™s new 7.90 index, two 32-car qualifying fields and some of the best young drivers in the country.
Oppen was fully aware of that heading into the season.
â€œThe competition in the Pro Junior Dragster class is really just unbelievable,â€ Oppen said. â€œItâ€™s just been outstanding. Even qualifying was difficult and there were so many close races.â€
Oppen took over the points lead at the U.S. Drags V at Virginia Motorsports Park, during a stretch of four straight semifinal appearances, and he never looked back.
His fifth semifinal berth came at Dragstock IX at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte put him in command, and Oppen officially clinched his first championship at the World Finals in Dallas.
Oppen also got to share the stage with fellow Pro Extreme world champion Mick Snyder, who had his own successful junior dragster career and has developed a friendship with Oppen.
â€œWe would always talk to each other and say, â€˜You and me in the winnerâ€™s circle,â€™ but it just never happened where we both won the same race. But the World Finals, it was great for us both to win the world championship,â€ Oppen said.
After winning the championship, Oppen thanked sponsor Mickey Thompson for its support, as well as the incredible sacrifices made by his family to attend all 10 races.
But it was all worth it and Oppen ended up with lasting memories he will always treasure.
â€œThe friends that Iâ€™ve made while racing is something that is just amazing. The ADRL really is like family and thereâ€™s so much Iâ€™ve learned from racing in junior dragster. Itâ€™s almost hard to put it into words,â€ Oppen said.
â€œThese are relationships I will have for the rest of my life.
â€œMy family is a really big support system and it really means a lot. Iâ€™m truly blessed to have them in my life.â€