POMONA, Calif. - Reigning world champion Jack Beckman reinforced what drivers always say: Every team that qualifies is capable of winning on Sunday in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Those prophetic words were echoed on Sunday when the No. 15-seeded team with driver Todd Lesenko survived a tire-smoking battle and eliminated Jack, who qualified No. 2, after both lost traction and smoked their tires in the opening round.
"We had the whole offseason and we knew we would come out here with the No. 1 on the car. We were able test a couple of times, and in our minds we wanted to come out just us strong as we wrapped up last season.
"When we rolled into the gates here at Pomona, my home track, we fully expected to be able to contend for the title. We went out there and dropped (an engine) cylinder right at the hit of the throttle and that drives you to left, plays havoc with the clutch and winds up smoking the tires.
"When something like that happens the hope is you can find the smoking gun to make sure it doesn't happen the next time.
"We have to dig deep into the computer and figure out what went wrong and how do we prevent it next week in Phoenix. It's frustrating, but it is a 24-race season. We know we'll be near the top all through the season."
Don Schumacher Racing