U.S. NATIONALS 2008 RUNNER-UP BECKMAN EYES WIN IN COUNTDOWN OPENER BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 1, 2010) - Everyone who knows Jack Beckman knows he analyzes just about every possible aspect when it comes to competing in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag ...
U.S. NATIONALS 2008 RUNNER-UP BECKMAN EYES WIN IN COUNTDOWN OPENER
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 1, 2010) - Everyone who knows Jack Beckman knows he analyzes just about every possible aspect when it comes to competing in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. He is true to form as he prepares to race the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger Funny Car in this weekend's 56th annual U.S. Nationals, the first event of the six-race Countdown to the Championship.
During and after a productive test session at O'Reilly Raceway Park last Thursday, where the U.S. Nationals will be held this weekend, Beckman, the 2008 U.S. Nationals runner-up, took notes and came up with a fluid scenario for a successful weekend.
"The truth of the matter is," he said, "big numbers in testing are awesome but they don't give you points or trophies for testing. We only made four runs, while a lot of teams made five, six or even seven. We didn't run once it cooled down because we're very confident with the way our car runs on cool tracks. We smoked the tires once, and made two planned half-track shutoff runs. One would have been a 4.08 (-second run) or a 4.09, so we were right there. And then we went out in the heat and ran 4.16 at 301 mph, and we were pleased with that.
"This is the first year that Indy is actually going to be a Countdown race, and this event is so big that it if you did nothing else all year and you won Indy it would be a year you would never forget," added Beckman, who enters the Countdown third in the standings.
"But, now, the points are reset and it's like the start of a new season. There are 10 of us who have tightened way up in the points and have a shot at the crown. For our Valvoline/MTS team, if we win this race, we will come out of it in first or second place.
"To say that we don't care about points right now wouldn't be completely accurate because, yeah, we want to win the race and the points will handle themselves, but NHRA kind of threw a wrench into the works last year adding these extra bonus points for qualifying, and the way the points reset for the Countdown, all the cars are within a half a round or one round of each other (round wins earn 20 points).
"Well, that means if you can pick up one point in qualifying relative to the other cars, it's huge at the end of the season. It's absolutely enormous. It's not that we don't try our best in every qualifying session, but right now you have to try to get at least one point, as the top three cars will get three, two, one points in every single qualifying session.
"If there's no weather-related issues, we have 25 opportunities during the Countdown to earn qualifying bonus points (Indy has a fifth qualifying session). That means there's potentially 75 points available if you're quickest each round through the end of the year, not even counting regular qualifying points. It's important to grab as many of those as you can.
"Indy is also unique that it's the only race where you start out qualifying with a night session," continued Beckman who has never won the U.S. Nationals in his nine career victories in 21 final rounds. "And it would be fantastic to run quick out of the box, make a statement early, and try to get some of those bonus points on Friday.
"In addition, we have many cool things going on this week in Indianapolis that will keep us busy, including a visit to the Riley Hospital for Children on Wednesday and the Don Schumacher Racing Open House on Friday. The event is a day longer than any other event, but they give away the same-sized trophy. The finals are on Monday instead of Sunday, and I'd love to be standing there holding that trophy on Monday afternoon."