Commerce: Jack Beckman final report

BECKMAN WINS ATLANTA, MOVES INTO SECOND IN POINTS COMMERCE, Ga. (April 19, 2009) - Jack Beckman defeated three John Force Racing Funny Cars and Tim Wilkerson to win his first NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car event of the year in...

BECKMAN WINS ATLANTA, MOVES INTO SECOND IN POINTS

COMMERCE, Ga. (April 19, 2009) - Jack Beckman defeated three John Force Racing Funny Cars and Tim Wilkerson to win his first NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car event of the year in his second final round of the season. In a rematch of this year's Houston event, in which Ashley Force Hood beat Beckman, Beckman evened the score by claiming his seventh career victory and the 128th overall for Don Schumacher Racing since 1998. With the win, Beckman moved into second in the point standings behind his DSR teammate Ron Capps.

En route to the final round, which took place after several long rain delays, Beckman first dismissed JFR's Robert Hight with a solid 4.173-second run at 299.40 mph, then sent home team patriarch John Force in the second round with another stout 4.140/296.18. In the semifinal he defeated Tim Wilkerson with a 4.150/304.67, then faced JFR's Ashley Force Hood in the championship stanza.

Driving the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge for Don Schumacher Racing, Beckman launched with a .073-of-a-second reaction time (.000 is perfect) to Force Hood's .112. At half-track it looked like it was going to be a repeat of Houston, but Force Hood struck the tires late in the run, allowing Beckman to race to the victory with a 4.128/303.43 pass to Force Hood's 4.157/248.39.

"I've got eye issues," said Beckman. "I'm 42 and I had eye allergies growing up and I just face the fact that I'm getting older and my eyesight is not what it was. And my right eye has been going nuts the last year. So I got glasses that fogged up. I got glasses without the coating so they wouldn't fog up. So I put them on in there and they fogged up. So I kept hem off until we got ready to fire the car. Did the burnout, backed up, rolled up, lit the pre-stage bulb, put my visor down and it fogged up, too. So, I just held my breath and it cleared up about half-track, but it could have been interesting if it had smoked the tires.

"On paper, Ashley's car had us whooped. That car's been the class of the field for about eight, nine months. Anything can happen when you have 8000 horsepower and nitro in the tank. It is such an awesome feeling. It's not that you get pessimistic it's that you just never know when you'll make a final round with a field as tight as it is now and then we make it in Houston and just got whooped up on by Ashley.

"So, to get back in there and have a chance to do it is awesome. And the other thing is we weren't that good this weekend. We qualified well on Q2 and we did a couple of things with the fuel system to try to make the car leave faster and I swear it was leaving like the Suburban tow vehicle the last two qualifying runs.

"First round it wasn't much better. So the guys took that part of the fuel system off, went back to the Vegas tune-up and tuned out of the book. But (crew chief) Johnny West [is] a lot like Don Garlits. If you give him some rounds on Sunday to tune off of, he gets better every single run."

As for beating three John Force cars: "Awesome," he said. "I'm going to ask Valvoline if there's any sort of double bonus for beating those other oil cars. No, it's really satisfying. Really, a trophy is a trophy and 10 years from now you might not necessarily know who you beat for it, but when you have a day like today when you outrun as many cars...In addition to the three Force cars, oh, we got Tim Wilkerson in the other round. So, to beat four awesome opponents makes today feel a lot more special."

Next up is the 13th annual NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway outside of St. Louis, Mo., May 1-3.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Don Garlits , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Don Schumacher , Robert Hight