MOHNTON, Pa. — As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to Maple Grove Raceway for the fourth of six races in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, Funny Car driver Jack Beckman continues to charge forward.
After winning from the No. 1 qualifying position at St. Louis, Beckman is certainly one of the pre-race favorites in the 8,000-horsepower category as he pursues his fourth win of the season at the 28th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, Oct. 4-7 at Maple Grove Raceway. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the event, which will be televised on ESPN2HD.
Beckman and his Valvoline NextGen Funny Car team led by crew chief Todd Smith are currently second in the Countdown points standings, 30 behind NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger driver Ron Capps. Beckman defeated Capps in a critical head-to-head second round match at Gateway, which opened the door for him to move up a spot in the points standings. Castrol GTX Ford Mustang driver Mike Neff and two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon, who pilots the Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry, are also in the mix with three playoff races remaining. Tim Wilkerson, who has jumped from 10th to fifth in the standings in the first three playoff races in his Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang, also still has an outside shot at the title.
“We went a long ways towards healing this week and we’re basically right back to where we were when the Countdown points got reset,” Beckman said. “It’s just awesome to know that we’ve got three races to go and we’re only a round-and-a-half out right now. That’s all we want is a fighting chance.”
Beckman, who won at Reading in 2008, is no stranger to a championship battle coming down to the wire. Last season he came to the season’s final race only one point out of the lead, but ultimately finished second to Matt Hagan. Beckman, a longtime driving instructor at the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School, has all the faith that his team can win its first NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car world championship this time around.
“The people that work on the Valvoline NextGen car do a phenomenal job and the proof is every time we go out there, we run well,” Beckman said. “And I do have tons of confidence in them, but there are no guarantees.”
In Top Fuel, Antron Brown regained the points lead following two consecutive victories at Dallas and St. Louis. Close behind is FRAM/Prestone driver Spencer Massey followed by Tony Schumacher, Shawn Langdon, Brandon Bernstein, Morgan Lucas, Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta, David Grubnic and Bob Vandergriff.
Allen Johnson is trying to seal the deal for his first world title in Pro Stock, but defending champion Jason Line is certainly putting up a fight. Erica Enders along with Vincent Nobile and past champions Mike Edwards and Greg Anderson are also proving they are forces to be reckoned with.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle competition, the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson duo of Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines have been dominating all season long. They had won every single race this season until first time winner Michael Ray put that streak to an end in Dallas. Defending winner Arana Jr. and Hector Arana Sr. have been close to earning a victory all season on their Lucas Oil Buells.