BECKMAN'S WEEKEND ENDS EARLY IN ST. LOUIS WITH A DNQ MADISON, Ill. (May 5, 2007) - "Fast" Jack Beckman fell victim to the elements this weekend at the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals and failed to qualify the Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger...
BECKMAN'S WEEKEND ENDS EARLY IN ST. LOUIS WITH A DNQ
MADISON, Ill. (May 5, 2007) - "Fast" Jack Beckman fell victim to the elements this weekend at the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals and failed to qualify the Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in the only two qualifying sessions held because of rain.
On track conditions affected by rain storms during the week and on Friday, in today's two rounds, Beckman first recorded a 5.562-second elapsed time at 182.08, which placed him in 14th, then attempted to rebound in the second session, despite hot and humid conditions and the threat of additional rain. He made a valiant attempt, but a broken clutch arm slowed him to a 5.307/302.48, giving him his second DNQ of the season.
"It's not just that you lost two qualifying runs, you lost two qualifying runs because the track was wet," said Beckman. "And when the track's wet, it changes the composition of the rubber, it delaminates it from the track, and it makes it a much trickier track than if you had dry weather all weekend.
"So, run one we went up there with a low-4.80 tune-up. I let the car move over to the right. It started lighting the tires down track, so I stepped off of it. We were still 14th after the first session and we thought we had some pretty good numbers to use for the second session.
"Arguably, you could say in the second session we weren't in the preferred lane and we had to run first, not because we were the last qualified, but because we were the slowest of the cars that needed to go in the left lane. NHRA has a formula and we abide by it. It makes perfect sense. It just put us first up, so we didn't have the opportunity to watch another Funny Car in front of us.
"All that being said, everything was perfect. We looked at the computer graphs, the engine rpm was perfect, and we broke a clutch lever arm. There's 18 of them, and we broke one about 40 ft. into the run. And what that does is it tries to make the car run a 4.72 on a track that might hold a 4.80 to a 4.85. So, at 50 ft. into the run it was trying to get the thing to go a lot quicker. The rear tires started shaking, so I had to pedal it. And my approach on qualifying session No. 2 would not be to pedal the car. But that was our last shot to get in. We actually improved by two and a half tenths (of a second), but we had four really good cars behind us who could still have bumped in. As it was, three of them got around us in that session.
"As for the clutch arms, I want to emphasize that it's not a case of it being a worn part. Clutch arms do a specific job. They pivot on the pressure plate and they apply pressure to the disc. They're checked every run, they're calibrated every run. There's no warning when one's going to break, and it just broke. This will probably not happen again this season for us. It was a fluke deal that cropped up at the worst possible time. Had it stayed there we would have run a 4.83 and it would have been a top-half car. But that's the part of nitro racing that you have to get used to.
"It's so frustrating because these MTS guys (led by crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler) are a championship-contending crew and so is the MTS Dodge. And I know when you look at the points, I know when you look at the performance right now, it doesn't show that. But, there's not a whole lot of woes that won't disappear when we win the next Wally. I know I keep saying 'we'll win the next race,' but the reason I keep saying that is because this team and this car could win every race they go to."