POMONA, Calif. - Within 24 hours, Jack Beckman went from being on fire and burning off an eyebrow to scorching the Auto Club Raceway track with Friday's hottest run and earn the Funny Car provisional pole in the NHRA season-finale at Pomona, Calif.
Crew chief Todd Smith, assistant Terry Snyder and the Valvoline NextGen team repaired Beckman's Dodge Charger R/T that sustained major damage in an explosion that was among the highlights shown Thursday night on ESPN's "Sports Center."
Beckman's speed in the 48th annual Auto Club NHRA Nationals set a Pomona track record and is the sixth fastest in Funny Car. Beckman and the Valvoline NextGen team set the NHRA national record with the fastest run ever at 320.58 on Oct. 5 near Reading, Pa.
"These are the things that you dream of," said Beckman, who is going for the fifth pole of the year and ninth in his career.
"You don't think of blowing a car up that bad but when you do you think, 'Would that be unbelievable for this team to come back and go to the top. That's not practical most of the time. I thought they might give us a (4.07 or 4.08) and we'd be back to our baseline tune-up and could lean on it (Saturday)."
The stellar run earned Beckman three bonus points for being the quickest in Friday's session that increased his world championship points lead to seven over DSR teammate Ron Capps, who is ranked 16th heading to Saturday's final two qualifying sessions of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
That lead assures Beckman that when championship eliminations begin 11 a.m. Sunday that he will be the points leader as both he and Capps are battling for their first NHRA Funny Car world championship.
"A 4.02 at almost 320 ... (Thursday) it was on a great lap before it blew up. Today I started to say we were on a great lap but we weren't quite to the finish line yet. It was just perfect all the way down."
On Friday afternoon, Capps lost traction then pedaled the throttle and briefly regained control before it lost traction again and began to go sideways.
Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman (DSR) 4.025 seconds, 319.75 mph
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 1
Session 1: 4.117 sec., 273.00 mph
FRIDAY QUALIFYING Session 2: 4.025 sec., 319.75 mph
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
(Through Nov. 9, 2012; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. JACK BECKMAN 2,534 --
2. RON CAPPS 2,527 -7
3. Mike Neff 2,445 -89
Don Schumacher Racing