MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 28, 2012) - Jack Beckman loves to surf and enjoys the sunny surroundings at his home in Southern California.
He's a warm-weather guy but had no complaints about a cool Midwestern night after earning the provisional pole Friday night in the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
Beckman drove the Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T prepared by crew chief Todd Smith, assistant Terry Snyder and their great crew to a track-record elapsed time of 4.049 seconds at 308.85 for the No. 1 qualifying position with two more sessions scheduled for Saturday before Sunday's elimination rounds.
"The cliches too often get so ad nauseam when we talk about our crew guys," Beckman said. "But the people who work on the Valvoline NextGen Dodge do a phenomenal job, and the proof is what we've done.
"It's a wonderful thing to see when our three guys celebrate in the tow vehicle when they came to pick me come up to the top-end (of the track), and then the reaction by the other guys when we tow back to our pit area. It's all their reactions that make it worthwhile," Beckman said.
No Funny Car in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series has qualified better than the Valvoline NextGen Dodge over the past seven events. If the team's pole holds up on Saturday, it would be its third No. 1 position in that span that includes four No. 2 positions and nothing lower than third.
Before Beckman left the starting line he wasn't thinking about the pole as much as he was how dark portions of the track were.
"When they drop the body you think it looks OK. It might be that the track is prepared to so well you can't see a (tire) groove out there. About 200 feet down the track I figured there is a light on the guardwall and the (foam) boxes are right on the centerline so if I stay between those I should be OK.
"We had an OK run (4.153, 279.90 mph) in the first session and we knew we wouldn't see conditions this good on Saturday in the daytime. We knew we had to get to the finish line and earn some bonus points. But you never know.
By being the quickest in Friday's night qualifying session, Beckman earned three bonus points that moved him around Mike Neff of John Force Racing into second behind DSR teammate and points leader Ron Capps in the six-event Countdown to the Championship playoff.
The following are Beckman's qualifying results from Friday and notes from the NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis:
Provisional No. 1: Jack Beckman (DSR) 4.049 sec., 308.85 mph
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Session 1: 4.153 sec., 279.90 mph
Session 2: 4.049, 308.85
Source: Don Schumacher Racing