Jack Beckman Reaches Finals In The NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Jack Beckman drove the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the finals of today’s 11th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals here at Bristol Dragway.
The Don Schumacher Racing driver, second in the Funny Car championship race, made three stout runs to earn the money round, but came up short against Robert Hight, who is right behind him in the standings.
“We threw the kitchen sink – and more – at Hight in the finals, but it was too much,” said Beckman. “We thought we would need more car than we had in the third round to beat Robert, but ended up spinning the tires.”
The loss of traction resulted in a 5.615-second pass at 152.66 miles per hour, well behind Hight’s 4.092 at 314.90.
Beckman achieved finals status by using a .057-reaction-time advantage to make up a 4.157 to 4.137-second elapsed-time dis-advantage in a first-round “hole-shot” victory against Jim Head.
Melanie Troxel was Beckman’s quarterfinals quarry, whom he defeated, 4.144 at 311.85 versus 4.150 at 306.46, setting up a semifinal match with Cruz Pedregon, fourth in the points race. The third round ended up a single run when Pedregon’s car did not answer the starter’s call and Beckman ran a 4.116 at 308.78 lap to try and gain lane choice against Hight in the finals.
“We didn’t get the kind of run we expected in the semis,” recalled the Southern California native and resident. “And since Robert was having such a strong day (he set the national Funny Car speed record at 316.45 mph in his semifinal run), we knew we had to turn up the power.
“Overall, we had a good day, not a great day and a good weekend. Again, we had a consistent car, which is what you want to have.”
He qualified fourth for the race and was a top-half-of-the-field car after each of the four qualifying rounds, and along with Antron Brown, DSR teammate in the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster, put on a good show for the sponsor’s representatives attending the race.
“Even though neither Antron (lost to Larry Dixon) nor I won, the Aaron’s guys were very happy and excited that we both made it into the finals,” said Beckman. “They had a lot of fun and are really enjoying their initial year in drag racing.”
The Aaron’s/Valvoline car has made three final rounds, with two victories, during the first nine races of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.