Beckman, Valvoline NextGen team ready to write their own story as Countdown to the Championship continues near St. Louis

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 26, 2012) - Jack Beckman and the Valvoline NextGen team are preparing to read a book with some empty pages this weekend when the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman

Photo by: NHRA

For the first time since 2010, the NHRA series will hold a professional NHRA event at the track. That brings a lot of unknowns for crew chief Todd Smith, who calls the shots on Beckman's Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.

"It's kind of an unknown at this point," said Smith. "The track has been sitting for a year. It's sort of like an open book. We just have to go take a look at it and see what we've got."

Smith and the six other Don Schumacher Racing teams will rely on DSR's track specialist Tommy Johnson Jr. to evaluate the track before qualifying begins on Friday.

"TJ will be there early to get a preliminary look at it and see what's there and what's been done," Smith said.

He will also have a watchful eye on the cars that go down the track prior to DSR entries during Friday's first of two sessions.

"We'll go up there with several different scenarios and watch the cars in front of us and make a decision based on those that run before us and plug something in basically last minute and get it down the track," Smith said.

Beckman knows the challenges that lie ahead but also has the confidence in his crew, who enter the event third in Countdown to the Championship standings, trailing DSR teammate Ron Capps by 97 points.

"Even though crew chiefs have data from that track, it was run at a different time of year and we don't know what to expect from the racing surface and our tune-up books have changed a little bit since then," said Beckman, who has two titles this year.

"Todd and Terry (Snyder, assistant crew chief) are just going to have to find similar conditions at another track from this year to try to plug in numbers for the first couple of runs until we know what it can hold."

Although there are some unknowns, Beckman is ready to strap into his 8,000-horsepower machine.

"I'm excited to go back to St. Louis," Beckman said. "St. Louis has never been a Countdown race, so that adds some drama.

"Typically this event was held in the summertime. This time it's going to be cooler conditions so everything is lining up to make it a really successful race weekend."

Source: Don Schumacher Racing