JACK BECKMAN LOOKS TO CLOSE THE DEAL AT THE 57TH-ANNUAL U.S. NATIONALS
INDIANAPOLIS, August 29, 2011 – Jack Beckman will drive his Valvoline NextGen/Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car onto the grid of Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis for this weekend’s 57th-annual U.S. Nationals focused on winning the sport’s most prestigious event.
Normally, the Don Schumacher Racing driver wants to win every race, but according to the California native, this one is special.
“Indy is the big race,” he explained. “I didn’t realize how special it was until I had raced there. As a driver, I’ll look at this like every other race in order to minimize any self-induced pressure. That trophy is the exact same height, shape and weight as all the Wallys– but it says U.S. Nationals, and that means a lot to any driver.
“This race is also important because it is the ‘home’ race for DSR, which is located about two miles from the track. This is in front of the team, their families and their buddies, so you want to do well.
“And it’s important for the sponsors!”
Beckman’s past success here has included a runner-up and semifinal-round finish (in five professional appearances), as well as a win in the now defunct all-star event.
“It’s one of those tracks where we’ve had success,” he explained. “But without the Wally, we don’t feel like we’ve closed the deal.
“Going into this weekend, I’m confident in our chances. We had a good test session (two 4.080 runs as well as 4.14 and 4.21 in the heat) which was not only to get ready for this race, but for the opening rounds of the playoffs (which begin at the next race in Charlotte, N.C.). We now need to go out and run well in Friday (first round of nitro qualifying scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.) and Saturday’s evening sessions which will take a lot of pressure off the team and allow you to try some things on Saturday and Sunday during the afternoon when conditions are more like race day ones.”
Success this weekend could also allow Beckman to close the gap with Robert Hight who is 16 points – less than one race-win round – ahead in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings. The “Big Go” marks the end of the regular season and the top-10 drivers at its conclusion will compete in the six-race Countdown to the Championship with their points reset; second place is 10-points closer to the top than third.
“I’m not looking past this race, because we are locked into the Countdown with a good spot,” he said about the upcoming playoffs. “I have so much faith in those nine guys on the Valvoline/Aaron’s team for the Countdown, I’m just focused on one thing – Labor Day in Indianapolis.”