BECKMAN READY FOR NEW SEASON, NEW SPONSOR NORTH HILLS, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2008) - With Valvoline as primary sponsor on the Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car he drives for Don Schumacher Racing, and Mail Terminal Services back on board as major associate,...
BECKMAN READY FOR NEW SEASON, NEW SPONSOR
NORTH HILLS, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2008) - With Valvoline as primary sponsor on the Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car he drives for Don Schumacher Racing, and Mail Terminal Services back on board as major associate, Jack Beckman is ready to attack his second full season in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, which opens this weekend at the CARQUEST NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.
Following a limited preseason test session at Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., last week, and a number of announcements from the NHRA relating to new formats and other news, the top-speed national- and track-record holder at Auto Club Raceway (333.66 mph) waxed philosophical this week.
"We thought that we were in good shape for 2008 in the off-season, then things changed," said Beckman, a cancer survivor and former Air Force sergeant. "A good example of what could change is what happened with (the proposed sale of NHRA's assets to) HD Partners. A lot of times deals sound like they're moving forward and for whatever reason they don't materialize. The economy right now isn't what it was in the late '90s, so to be able to know before preseason testing that we had a commitment, we had full funding for the team and we were ready to go, was the first thing. Knowing you've got a job and knowing you've got the resources to run hard like we did last year was very comforting.
"Plus, I'm sponsored by a company, Valvoline, whose brand I've used since I was a kid and my dad was showing me how to work on cars, so it's really exciting."
Beckman, who finished fifth in the 2007 Funny Car point standings after winning two national events, is prepared for another tough season. "Last year I made the comment that that season would be the most competitive ever in Funny Car and that we may not see it again simply because of the economic horizon. There were some teams that were going away, but now this year, you have Bob Tasca coming in, you have Melanie Troxel coming over, so it looks right now to be at least as competitive as last year. But, we're starting the season with a couple of unknowns with the rules changes (cars are 100 pounds heavier and the nitromethane percentage has been upped from 85 percent to 90).
"I think Pomona is going to be very very interesting," added Beckman. "Typically, in preseason testing teams can get 15 or 20 laps and usually don't need that many because there has not been big rules changes. So we're starting out the season with a couple of noticeable changes and most of the teams I think will tell you that the preseason testing didn't go as smoothly as they had wished, because we were dealing with weather and a tricky race track in Phoenix.
"I think you're going to see a lot of stumbling the first couple of qualifying sessions in Pomona, and be prepared to see a couple of top teams sitting out on Sunday; hopefully none of them are DSR cars."
As for the new qualifying format, "NHRA had a tough decision to make," said Beckman. "You either do away with Friday night qualifying, add a Saturday night qualifying - which nobody really wants because the crews are already there late and have to start early on Sunday - or do what they did. I would say that their adjustment is probably the best compromise. It will affect people, but it will affect everybody equally in theory, so we all know the rules going in. I understand why they did it.
"The new Countdown format? Love it," Beckman remarked. "I absolutely applaud NHRA for that. They could have sat back and said, 'Look at the way last year ended with Top Fuel, Pro Stock Motorcycle; we're not touching a thing.' But it really wasn't the best system for drag racing, having a two-race, almost-sudden-death shootout. I absolutely salute whatever minds came together and made the adjustment for this year. I think it is the right way to go."
Mail Terminal Services will continue its "Mail from Home" program in 2008. Fans at each NHRA national event will have the opportunity to sign special cards at the DSR hospitality area and at the U.S. Army Racing Zone in the midway area, which MTS will then ship, free of charge, to the troops in war zones overseas.