BECKMAN BOWLS 'EM OVER IN POMONA
Sets national elapsed-time record, backs up national speed record, en route to runner-up finish
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2006) - "Fast" Jack Beckman nearly ran the table this weekend at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals by first steering the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Charger Funny Car to No. 1 in qualifying and then to national-record-setting quickest and fastest Funny Car laps. He fell victim, though, to newly-crowned 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion John Force in his second straight final round of the season.
While championship contenders Force, Robert Hight and Ron Capps would have killed for those 20 bonus points for setting a national record, it was Beckman's 4.662-second elapsed-time pass in the final (backed up by his No. 1 qualifying pass of 4.671 seconds) that got the job done. In only his fifth Funny Car event and certainly not in the championship chase, the points were of little help, but the bragging rights were stupendous.
The only down side was that the final pass, at 329.99 mph, didn't hold up against Force's slower but winning 4.697/319.75. Beckman's .103 reaction time (.000 is perfect) to Force's .058 made the difference, resulting in a holeshot loss for Beckman and a margin of victory for Force of .0108 of a second.
"I've never been so disappointed to be the quickest and fastest Funny Car driver in history," said Beckman, who set the national speed record of 333.66 mph on Saturday, backed up by his 332.75-mph run in today's first-round win. "But at the end of the day you really want that win light.
"That Matco Tools Dodge was an animal. It launched good, it just stuck me back in the seat, and I'm thinking, He ain't gonna hang with this deal," Beckman reflected on his run against Force. "And then that thing made such a hard move to the right and was pretty close to the wall, and I was pretty close to aborting the run. But, it was still truckin', and it never even thought about spinning the tire hard down there at the top end. I thought we were going to win.
"It will go down in history as a holeshot loss," he added. "John is a master. When he needs it he'll let the car roll way into the start line. The guys told me to stage as shallow as I could to get more roll out, which will slow your reaction time. If you watch the video you'll see the butterflies open at the same time, which means we punched the pedal at the same time, but where you stage the car has a dramatic effect on reaction time of the car."
With lane choice for every round, Beckman first defeated Scott Kalitta with a 4.715/332.75, Tony Pedregon with a 5.060/232.39 and Phil Burkart Jr. with a 4.743/323.19, before meeting up with Force in the final.
"I hope the Matco Tools guys are happy that we left here with both ends of the national record, but I know they wanted to run the table, and I'm disappointed that we didn't. But, as a five-race Funny Car driver, to have the fastest and quickest runs in Funny Car history and a win, it's something I'm glad I signed up for," said the 2003 Super Comp champion and winner of his first Funny Car race in Las Vegas two weeks ago.
"We came out here trying to end the year on a good note," said crew chief Todd Okuhara, "and we pushed the car hard. We were very aggressive in qualifying, and it's not very often you are in a position to set a national record, so Phil (Shuler, assistant crew chief) and I decided to go for it. And it worked."
Despite Beckman's limited schedule (five events) this season, he finishes 19th (329 points) in POWERade Funny Car rankings, ahead of 15 other regular Funny Car competitors.