Beckman moves closer to Funny Car points lead at Maple Grove Raceway
READING, Pa. (Oct. 5, 2012) - No drag racer wants to see a car in front of him blow an engine and deposit fluid on the dragstrip, but another driver's misfortune might have helped propel Jack Beckman and his Schumacher Electric Battery Extender/Valvoline NextGen team to the second quickest elapsed time in NHRA history that put the team on the provisional pole Friday night at Maple Grove Raceway.
Beckman had made his burnout and was ready to roll toward the starting line when NHRA officials detected fluid past the finish line in his lane. NHRA officials instructed Beckman and driver Jeff Arend in the other lane to shut off their 8,000-horsepower engines.
When Beckman came back about 40 minutes later, the track and atmospheric conditions were even better for his second try at a second qualifying run.
Crew chief Todd Smith and assistant Terry Snyder took the delay in stride and helped Beckman become the third driver to ever record an elapsed time below four seconds.
Beckman joined Don Schumacher Racing teammates Ron Capps and Matt Hagan as the only Funny Car drivers to record sub 4-second times.
"I was surprised they (had us start our cars) so quickly after the pair before us left the track," said Beckman, who is on the cusp of his fourth No. 1 qualifier spot of the season.
"What I love about what NHRA did was that they had the guts to radio-in and say there was something on the track and didn't think it was safe. It's a tough call. I appreciated that.
"And it appears NHRA Safety Safari cleaned and prepared the track pretty well."
Being the quickest in Friday's second session enabled Beckman to earn three qualifying bonus points that cut the gap between his team and that of Capps from 30 to 27 points.
What impressed Beckman most was the pressure performance of his crew.
"We had to tow back to the pits after we were shut off and our team put in a brand new clutch in the car, they got me belted in in the pits. It was scarier being in the car getting towed up to the staging lanes than was making the run. We were flying to get up to the line in time.
"It was stunning to see our guys faced with so many challenges on that run and then step up for us to be able to run that good."
Two more qualifying sessions are scheduled for Saturday when the forecasts calls cooler weather.
"I'm not sure that one is safe for tomorrow," he said. "I'm not a weather guy but there is nothing wrong with this racetrack and as long as it doesn't get too warm tomorrow I'm not sure you won't see another 3-second run.
"I'm just happy we're solidly qualified so we get some session bonus points."
Source: Don Schumacher Racing