BROWNSBURG, Ind. (April 17, 2013) - Jack Beckman admits to being apprehensive when he arrived at zMAX Dragway a year ago for the Four-Wide NHRA Nationals near Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Beckman wasn't worried about being in a foursome that produces more horsepower than an entire field of 43 cars in a NASCAR Cup stock car race.
Although Beckman's Valvoline NextGen/MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors team wasn't broken, but Capps' team was. When Capps failed to qualify for the previous race at Las Vegas, team owner Don Schumacher moved Beckman's longtime crew chief and crew over to the Capps team.
After finishing 2011 as runner-up in the championship race, Beckman, a Southern California native and resident, arrived at zMAX with a different crew, new racecars and a new crew chief in Todd Smith, who had never had led a Funny Car team but was a veteran Top Fuel Dragster tuner.
"The Four-Wide is where we all started together last year," Beckman said. "It was a tremendous amount of uncertainty; brand new racecar, a new crew for me, a new driver for the crew and for Todd, a new style of car.
"There was a different guy strapping me into the car, different guy backing me up after the burnout. And multiply that by us running cars four wide.
"It was borderline overwhelming. There was so much change. There almost just wasn't time to think about it or to dwell on it. We just had to figure out how this was going to work so we could get our car down the racetrack."
The Smith-led team and Beckman did just that.
The Valvoline team qualified fifth at the Four-Wide and advanced to the second round. By the time the team returned to zMAX Dragway in the fall for the traditional two-wide event, Beckman was third in points with six events left in the season.
Two events after the Four-Wide, he won his third title of the year and advanced to the championship rounds in two of the season's last four events during a span during in which he set NHRA national records for elapsed time (3.986 seconds) and speed (320.58 mph). All that added up to winning the season championship by a slim margin of two points over Capps.
And it began at the Four-Wide.
Don Schumacher Racing