NORTH HILLS, Calif. (June 10, 2009) - Returning to the NHRA SuperNationals this weekend at Old Bridge Township Raceway in Englishtown, N.J., will be a bittersweet time for Jack Beckman, driver of the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Funny Car in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Last year at this event, Beckman was in the "water box" preparing to perform a burnout before his final attempt to qualify when, on the track in front of him, Scott Kalitta lost his life in a tragic accident.

It was Beckman's last chance to qualify for the event and he failed to do so. He returned home to California the next day with a heavy heart.

"We didn't qualify last year for the SuperNationals, as the NHRA cancelled the rest of the qualifying that day when Scott had his accident," said Beckman, a cancer survivor and former Air Force sergeant. "It didn't matter to me. It's the first time that I could ever think of in my racing career where qualifying didn't actually seem all that important.

"It's never going to be the same," he said following the loss. "It's not like one day we went, OK, well, we're over that. You'll never get over it. There is a time frame when it hurts almost constantly. And then when you get past that it's a memory and a tugging at the heart when you think of the people we have lost.

"It's going to be bittersweet going back to Englishtown," he said. "We'll have a chance to honor Scott amongst all the crews and the teams and remember him for the great racer and person he was."

He will also focus on the task at hand, competing in the event and aiming for a victory. "We're going to have a good shot to put ourselves back into the points hunt," said Beckman, who is fifth in the standings, 176 points behind leader and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps.

"This is the time of the season where it's put up or shut up. We've got six races in seven weeks and you just can't afford to stumble. We stumbled a little bit last weekend in Joliet, Ill., when we made it into No. 15 in qualifying then lost in the first round. We were able to qualify, we pulled it together on the last run, but we need to be able to qualify better.

"So, E-town, Norwalk (Ohio) and the Western Swing (Denver, Seattle, Sonoma, Calif.) are going to spell the tempo for the Countdown coming up for the last six races."

Mail Terminal Services continues its popular "Mail From Home" campaign in 2009, supporting the U.S. troops serving in the war zones. In the past two NHRA seasons the campaign has sent over 195,000 post cards overseas signed by fans and supporters at each NHRA national event with messages of support for the troops, along with numerous NHRA National Dragster issues and other automotive magazines. Photos of cars and drivers were also included.

In 2009 the "Mail From Home" program has been challenged to exceed the previous records of cards distributed to hit a 120,000-card record for one season.

-credit: dsr