MADISON, Ill. - Jack Beckman has been saying for the past month his only chance to win a first NHRA professional championship this year would be for his Valvoline NextGen Funny Car team to win a lot of rounds and for Don Schumacher Racing teammate and points leader Ron Capps to lose early.
Beckman started the weekend trailing Capps by 96 points but cut deeply into the gap and will be 30 points behind Capps when the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series competes next weekend at Reading, Pa. "It's nice to know that we have a car that can challenge for the championship," said Beckman, who beat Alexis DeJoria, Jeff Arend and Tony Pedregon to advance to the final round.
"This wasn't do-or-die, but it's getting pretty close"
A week ago at the Full Throttle event near Dallas, Capps eliminated Beckman by 0.004 seconds.
"Losing to Capps by four-thousandths in Dallas hurt a lot, but today went a long way towards healing that. It's awesome to know that we have three races to go and are only 30 points back. All we want is a fighting chance going into Pomona."
The healing began on Friday when Beckman posted a 4.049-second run to win the team its third pole of the year and set a Gateway record.
The Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T has qualified in the top-3 over the past seven events under the guidance of crew chief Todd Smith and assistant Terry Snyder.
In the championship round, Beckman, who has won three titles this year, faced reigning Funny Car world champion and teammate Matt Hagan who did not qualify for the Countdown or win a race this season.
Beckman caught a break when Hagan left too early and drew a redlight foul, and the Valvoline car powered to a 4.132-second run at 306.53 mph.
"From my perspective, you're ready to go up there and squeeze the trigger if anything happens," Beckman said. "I heard noise, saw the red light come on, and saw the big DieHard logo from Matt's car.
We have a big respect for that car. Over the last four races, it might be the best-running car on average."
Or it might be Beckman's Valvoline Dodge.
Source: Don Schumacher Racing