Jack Beckman To Start 10th In NHRA Northwest Nationals
Jack Beckman, driving the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, banked a 4.201-second pass at 298.67 miles per hour on Friday to gain the 10th qualifying position for Sunday’s 24th-annual NHRA Northwest Nationals here at Pacific Raceways.
The 45-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver is pleased with his first-round opponent – seventh-qualifier Cruz Pedregon.
“I like the match up with Cruz in round one because he sits right behind us in the standings,” said Beckman about the four-place holder in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car lineup. “We want to get the ‘big fights’ right away because a win in round one would increase our lead on Cruz going into the Countdown to 1.”
Including Sunday’s race, there are three remaining to set the 10-driver field for the six-race playoffs. Beckman, currently third in the standings, trails Mike Neff and Robert Hight, with DSR teammate Matt Hagan behind Pedregon to round out the top five.
Although the Aaron’s/Valvoline car, with two wins in 2011, recorded its lowest qualifying position of the season, according to Beckman this uncharacteristic showing is just a bump in the road.
“We’ve got some gremlins in this car right now,” he said. “But we’re not overly concerned because this is where the depth of talent on this team and the entire DSR organization gives us a tremendous advantage over other teams.
“This is simply a hiccup – a two-and-a-half-race hiccup (consecutive first-round losses coming into this one) – and we will fix it. This is a great team – led by Rahn Tobler (crew chief) and John Collins (assistant crew chief) which can overcome this challenge. We remain confident when looking at the big picture.”
The track here outside Seattle provided challenges to drivers and crew chiefs in both Top Fuel and Funny Car during the two days of qualifying, indicating lane choice might be an issue on race day, with the first round scheduled for 11 a.m. PT.
“Since we can’t control our lane choice in the opening round tomorrow, we can’t worry about it,” said Beckman. “We will just have to show how good we are when we get into that first run against Cruz.”