ALMOST “PERFECT” DAY FOR JACK BECKMAN AT NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS
KENT, Wash., August 7, 2011 – Jack Beckman, driver of the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, lost a final-round match today at the 24th-annual NHRA Northwest Nationals here, but considered the overall event a positive step in his 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
“It was a perfect day up to 275 feet into that final run,” said the 45-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver who smoked the tires and lost traction in his final-round match with Tim Wilkerson. “And being runner up stinks, but considering how Saturday went and coming from our worst qualifying position of the season, it was a good day.
“We beat the number-four and number-five drivers and the numbers one and two went out early on the other side of the ladder, so we made up ground in the points standings.”
The Californian, sitting third in the Funny Car rankings, opened the day defeating Cruz Pedregon (fourth). His 4.153-second lap at 307.09 miles per hour easily topped Pedregon, who smoked his tires.
Next up was reigning champion John Force and Beckman registered a solid 4.168 run at 305.29 mph for victory. The semifinals brought DSR teammate Matt Hagan (fifth in the standings) and another quick run by “Fast Jack” of 4.160 at 297.42 mph secured the trip to the finals.
Beckman held an 11-4 career record against Wilkerson going into the final round, but the tire smoke at 275 feet (resulting in a 4.598-second pass at 238.64 mph) ended his day without a Wally.
“It’s frustrating getting this far and not taking home the trophy, but I am happy because we just ‘found’ our race car,” he explained. “It’s been hiding for two races (consecutive first-round defeats in Denver and last week in Sonoma, Calif.) and now it’s back.
“It’s really amazing considering how the weekend started. We made one decent run Friday (4.201 which secured the 10th-qualifying spot), then in the first qualifying session Saturday we tried to burn up the car, and didn’t get down the track in the final one.
“Last night, we replaced the entire ignition system, basically rewiring the car. The Aaron’s/Valvoline crew did their usual great job giving me a car which could win the race.”
The crew’s accomplishments were recognized as it won the “Full Throttle Hard-Working Crew Award” for its recovery from the third-qualifying round mishap.
“The Western Swing (three-consecutive weekends of racing) started out poorly (the first consecutive first-round exits of 2011), but we ended it three round wins out of six rounds,” Beckman said. “Not bad, especially considering we are leaving here with a race car we again know is capable of reaching the finals and winning races.”
Beckman’s next chance to win comes in less than two weeks when he ventures to Brainerd International Raceway for the August 18-21 30th-annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Having clinched a spot in the Countdown to 1 with today’s runner-up finish, he will enter the Minnesota race 13 points behind Robert Hight for second in the Funny Car standings and 85 ahead of Pedregon. The top-10 drivers following the 16th race (Brainerd and Indianapolis finish the regular season) qualify for the playoffs when the points will be reset.