COUNTDOWN BATTLE TIGHTENS UP FOR BECKMAN IN MEMPHIS MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 23, 2008) - As the Countdown to 1 playoffs point standings tighten up with four national events remaining in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, serious contender...
COUNTDOWN BATTLE TIGHTENS UP FOR BECKMAN IN MEMPHIS
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 23, 2008) - As the Countdown to 1 playoffs point standings tighten up with four national events remaining in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, serious contender for the Funny Car championship Jack Beckman knows he and the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T team cannot afford a slip-up. This weekend's 21st annual NHRA Mid-South Nationals in Memphis will demand stellar performances from every driver in the top 10.
Beckman is third in the standings, 29 markers behind first-place Tim Wilkerson, but with the way the points have see-sawed, even in one weekend, it is still anybody's race. Beckman has won the most rounds (21) of any Countdown driver in the last eight events, has reached the final round at five of those races, winning twice, and is driving one of the hottest cars in the class.
"It's crazy," said Beckman, who lives in North Hills, Calif. "I can't believe there's only four races left in the season. You know, you're plugging away all year long and it seems like there's lots of time left, then some time goes by and you still think there's lots of time left. And, suddenly, there's not much time left.
"With the six-race Countdown format, I said it before, you can swallow one bad effort. And case in point was John Force's DNQ in Charlotte and now he's back in eighth. With four races left, however, you can't. It's mistake-free racing from this point on. And it's going to be so exciting because you can go out there and go to the semifinals at every race and not even stay in the top three.
"I think there are six cars with a very legitimate shot at winning right now," added Beckman, in only his second full season in Funny Car competition. "Anything can happen with the other four. But those six look to me like they're kind of pulling away slightly. And I think it's going to take a couple final-round efforts and no first-round losses to stay in contention for the championship.
"Qualifying is going to be big for us. We did a great job in Dallas and we ended up fifth. There were only two Countdown cars who out-qualified us, and we have to keep doing it. We have to be a top-half car and keep pace or gain those one or two qualifying points on the other Countdown cars. It's going to be huge. There's no unimportant runs right now. If you can haul butt on Friday night and qualify high, you will kind of have the luxury Saturday of working on the race-day tune-up. Friday night's qualifying session is going to be so huge, because now it's more than qualifying position, it's points for the championship."
Last year in Memphis, Beckman qualified fifth and made it to the final round, where he was defeated by his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Gary Scelzi.
The Mail from Home program allows fans and competitors an opportunity to sign unique cards in the Don Schumacher Racing hospitality area and at a kiosk within the U.S. Army Racing Zone at NHRA national events with messages to the U.S. troops overseas, which are then distributed free to war-zone camps by MTS. The number of postcards distributed by MTS in 2008 is expected to exceed the 90,000 mark that was reached in 2007.