St. Louis: Jack Beckman preview

BECKMAN RETURNS FOR SECOND VISIT TO GATEWAY NORTH HILLS, Calif. (April 30, 2008) - When Jack Beckman joined Don Schumacher Racing at the end of 2006 for the final five races, he was a ball of fire, qualifying No. 1 once, winning once and setting...

BECKMAN RETURNS FOR SECOND VISIT TO GATEWAY

NORTH HILLS, Calif. (April 30, 2008) - When Jack Beckman joined Don Schumacher Racing at the end of 2006 for the final five races, he was a ball of fire, qualifying No. 1 once, winning once and setting both ends of the national record in those events.

Then, in his first full season in the Funny Car class of the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series with DSR, reality clicked in and he was introduced to arguably the most competitive NHRA category in recent history. The cancer survivor and 2003 Super Comp champion was undaunted, enduring early-season struggles to end the season battling for a spot in the Countdown to Four championship playoffs with his teammates Ron Capps and Gary Scelzi. He finally ended up a strong fifth in the standings.

At the Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway last year, Beckman failed to qualify for his second event of the season, joining an elite group of other top Funny Car drivers, in fact all the Funny Car stars, who failed to qualify at least once during that highly competitive season.

Beckman, driving the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for DSR, arrives at this weekend's Midwest Nationals No. 8 in the point standings with one victory so far. He's in the coveted top-10 in the standings which would earn him a spot in the playoffs to be held during the final six events of the season. But the affable, articulate Beckman is not satisfied.

"We're in the top 10. I think we're like only a round out of fourth place right now," he said, "but we've got to get back to our early-season form. So, we're excited to get to Gateway. With a few exceptions (and actually Gateway maybe one of those this weekend, as cool weather is predicted right now), we will be at hot tracks for the next four and a half months. So, I think the teams that are going to get a grip on this hot -track tune-up have a golden opportunity to surge way ahead.

"The opposite can also be said," added Beckman. "The teams that are having a tough time taming their cars at these race tracks are going to struggle just to stay in the top 10. Our goal is obviously to adapt to the hot conditions and win rounds.

"I guess you might say that the next four months are going to separate the haves from the have-nots. And it's really time to sink or swim. With NHRA's new Countdown format, I know everybody says that you only need to be in the top 10, and that's true, but, keep in mind, that every two positions in that top 10 represents one round of racing that you'll either have as an advantage or will have to make up when they cut the points at Indy (the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day, after which the playoffs begin).

"So, really, you still want to be right at the top of the points and that gets down to round wins. And if you have a car that can go two or three rounds every race, I think you'll be near the top of the points deal come Indy. I know we have a good enough car and an excellent team to get us there."

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , Jack Beckman