Dallas: Jack Beckman preview

BECKMAN CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY IN DALLAS, DRIVES THE VALVOLINE DODGE NORTH HILLS, Calif. (Sept. 19, 2007) - It is now officially one year since Jack Beckman competed in his first race in a Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing. It was at the Texas...

BECKMAN CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY IN DALLAS, DRIVES THE VALVOLINE DODGE

NORTH HILLS, Calif. (Sept. 19, 2007) - It is now officially one year since Jack Beckman competed in his first race in a Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing. It was at the Texas Motorplex in 2006 when Beckman stepped into the Funny Car formerly driven by Whit Bazemore and finished the last five races of the year with DSR.

He qualified fifth in Ennis then and lost the first round to Tommy Johnson Jr. After that, however, someone or something clearly lit the fuse in his posterior, as Beckman went on to qualify No. 1 once, set both top-speed and elapsed-time national records, reach two final rounds and win once.

If you think that was a dream season, consider 2007: So far, driving the Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T in his first full season of nitro Funny Car competition, he's won twice in three final rounds, jumped from seemingly nowhere into the No. 2 slot in the new Countdown to Four playoffs points, his MTS Dodge team leads the Full Throttle Pit Crew Challenge for consistency in qualifying, has qualified in the top five in the last nine events, in the top half in the last 11, and claimed the $100,000 Skoal Showdown bonus event. Phew!

Driving the special-edition Valvoline Dodge Charger this weekend, Beckman is cool and focused as he aims to continue his charge in the Funny Car class.

"I made my debut last year in Dallas," he said. "This actually now marks a complete year in nitro Funny Car for me. When I look back, we have four wins including the Skoal Showdown. We're sitting second in the Countdown right now, and we're first in the Full Throttle points. It just has been absolutely stunning.

"I am so glad that Phil (Shuler, lead crew chief) and Todd (Okuhara, co-crew chief) decided to test (in Indianapolis) and debut the new race car in Memphis," where he was runner-up to his teammate Gary Scelzi. "Obviously, it worked almost perfectly in Memphis and now I think we've got the tune-up handled on it for the rest of the season. And we know we've got fresh pipe, so the car should be very predictable throughout the rest of the races."

Four total, to be exact: two to determine the final four in the Countdown to Four, and two events to name a Funny Car champion among those four.

"My dad lives in Arlington, Texas, near Dallas," Beckman continued. "He has tons of friends who are coming out for the race, so we're going to have a lot of support and our own built-in cheering section out there."

As for being comfortable in second, "Robert Hight's got a decent-sized lead (53 points), so I wouldn't even use the word 'comfortable,'" he said. "Hight might be the only guy in that position. I think right now among the drivers in second through sixth it's going to be an absolute slugfest. For Jim Head to make it out of eighth he's going to have to pull out a miracle.

"John Force is sitting in seventh and look what he did earlier this year (moved out of the doldrums into the limelight). So, I don't think anybody can be comfortable in this deal.

"I thought we were going to have to win eight rounds in this four-race swing, and we're halfway there right now. We've won four rounds in the last two races. But anything can happen, because you're not only competing against the Countdown cars, you're competing against the rest of the cars that want to spoil it for us."

Mail Terminal Services will feature Camp Caldwell this weekend in Ennis, Texas, in its "Mail from Home" program. Postcards will be available to send to this war-zone camp at the Don Schumacher Racing hospitality area as well as at a kiosk in the U.S. Army "Racing Zone," the U.S. Army Interactive area located in Nitro Alley.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Jack Beckman , Don Schumacher , Robert Hight