Commerce: Jack Beckman preview

WITH VEGAS HICCUP BEHIND HIM, BECKMAN SET FOR ATLANTA NORTH HILLS, Calif. (April 23, 2008) - For Jack Beckman, who started the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season on a hot streak, with two quarterfinal finishes and one victory in the ...

WITH VEGAS HICCUP BEHIND HIM, BECKMAN SET FOR ATLANTA

NORTH HILLS, Calif. (April 23, 2008) - For Jack Beckman, who started the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season on a hot streak, with two quarterfinal finishes and one victory in the first three races, plus a short stint as the Funny Car points leader (albeit only after qualifying), a rare parts breakage in the opening round of the last event in Las Vegas was just an early-season hiccup.

As the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T race team prepares for this weekend's NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, Beckman shrugs off this blip on the radar as he targets his first victory in Atlanta and a return to the top of the standings. He fell from No. 2 to No. 6 after Vegas.

The cancer survivor and former Air Force sergeant who joined Don Schumacher Racing at the end of 2006 remained enthusiastic in his usual thoughtful way. "Everybody is going to have slumps," he said. "You have to minimize them and you've got to get right back with the momentum. It appears that we got some defective parts and that bit us in Las Vegas, which is unfortunate. The upside side is we stayed and tested on Monday after Vegas and we're nearly positive that we fixed our problem.

"And we got to make some very hot weather passes which should help us out in Atlanta and St. Louis the weekend immediately following.

"Vegas was odd. I thought Vegas was going to be the race where we could let it all hang out. It turned out to be another tricky track and some of the crew chiefs are now speculating that changes in how NHRA is prepping the tracks might be affecting the cars.

"Atlanta Dragway is doing some last-minute repairs to the race track, which is kind of reminiscent of what happened with Bristol last year (which was rescheduled until the track was ready). So, hopefully everything will go smoothly there, and I mean smoothly in more ways than one.

"The most important thing is we need to get back on track. We have to keep qualifying. We just squeaked in in Vegas by one thousandth of a second, but that doesn't matter," said Beckman, who, with 20, currently holds the longest consecutive qualifying streak for active drivers. "As long as we do qualify I feel we have a better-than-average chance on Sunday. And we're going to need to start being more consistent through qualifying so that we can work on the race-day tune-up.

"We're also going to start testing after a couple more of these races just to get a summer tune-up so that we're ahead of the competition. Most of the tracks from here on out will be hot tracks."

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jack Beckman