Las Vegas II: Jack Beckman preview

BECKMAN ENJOYING LIFE AS HE TOURS U.S. EN ROUTE TO VEGAS LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27, 2008) - The dateline is "Las Vegas," but Jack Beckman's location could be anywhere in the United States since he left Richmond, Va., in his motor coach with wife Jenna...

BECKMAN ENJOYING LIFE AS HE TOURS U.S. EN ROUTE TO VEGAS

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27, 2008) - The dateline is "Las Vegas," but Jack Beckman's location could be anywhere in the United States since he left Richmond, Va., in his motor coach with wife Jenna and son Jason Russell on Oct. 13 and headed west to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NHRA Nationals this weekend, the penultimate event of the 2008 season.

The driver of the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, who is second in the Countdown to 1 playoffs point standings with a strong chance of winning his first championship, is a capitol junkie.

An avid historian, Beckman is enjoying one of his life's goals of visiting ever capitol in the United States as he travels the country to each racing venue. As of this writing, he's checked off 20, including those in Des Moines, Cheyenne (double-back visit) and Salt Lake City this past week.

"It's been interesting," said Beckman, who is 51 points out of the lead, with 160 points (plus qualifying points) available in these final two events (Vegas and Pomona, Calif., Nov. 16). "I have always had either a daily job or, like last year, when I drove full-time I also worked teaching classes at Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School. "This is the first time in my adult life that I've had time off of work where I wasn't doing something with the race cars.

"We've been driving to all the races in the motor home and it's interesting. Somebody asked me whether it is tougher having a couple of weeks off or if I like it more. And my response was, it just depends on how you deal with it. It is what it is and it's nothing we can affect on the schedule; we just have to deal with it. So, I'm choosing to enjoy it.

"We've actually gotten to see some of the countryside, and we've crossed a few state capitols off the list. And I'm very excited to go race, but I'm tempering that enthusiasm. I'll want to kind of ramp up once we get to Vegas.

"Vegas has been great to me," added Beckman, of North Hills, Calif., who won his first Funny Car title at The Strip in the fall of 2006, in only his fourth national-event appearance in that class. "It and Pomona (Calif.) Raceway are really my two home tracks, so, if NHRA were to let me choose the schedule, this is the way I'd choose to run it.

"We have such a realistic shot at winning the championship. We're two-and-a-half rounds back of Tim Wilkerson, but behind us there's also three cars that are capable of winning it. So, I think we're right back to the fact that we have to make the final round in Vegas.

"If we can win Vegas we still might leave in second place, but it's going to make Pomona unbelievable for the fans. If we make the final round, no matter what the other cars do, it's still going to be at least a three-car dogfight for the championship.

"The Valvoline/MTS Dodge guys are looking at everything under a microscope in these three weeks between the last race and Vegas. Because we know we've got at most 16 more passes this year and a chance at a championship. It's mistake-free racing from here on out."

As for a visit to Carson City, Nev., to check out the capitol building there, "That will have to be next time. It's just way out of the way," he said.

-credit: dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Frank Hawley