POMONA, Calif. - The first qualifying session of the Auto Club NHRA Finals started off with a bang Thursday for Funny Car points leader Jack Beckman.
But it wasn't the type of bang the Don Schumacher Racing driver hoped for to start the final event of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
Despite that, Beckman recorded an elapsed time of 4.117 seconds at a slowing 273.00 mph that was the fifth best run of the day.
"I have never had that happen to me, and I'm not signing up for that again," Beckman said. "If anyone wants to donate a left eyebrow, I'm kind of needing one right now."
The team had not determined the cause of the explosion Thursday evening, but it was clear some flames reached Beckman, who was not injured.
When qualifying resumes at 2 p.m. Friday, pre-event standings in Top Fuel will remain unchanged. Moments after Beckman closed Funny Car qualifying, a persistent, light rain ended the day's racing.
In the last pair of Funny Cars, Beckman was paired with DSR teammate Ron Capps, who smoked the tires on his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge that slowed to a time of 7.675 seconds and 71.87 mph.
Neither Beckman nor Capps earned qualifying bonus points, which leaves Beckman with a four-point lead over Capps in the championship hunt heading to Friday.
The only significant change in Funny Car points was two points earned by John Force Racing's Mike Neff (4.062) with the second quickest time of the day. Neff is ranked third and narrowed the distance behind Beckman to 86 points.
The quickest DSR Funny Car was Johnny Gray's Big O Tires/Service Central Dodge that recorded the day's third-quickest run at 4.065 seconds and 312.57 mph.
Rookie Courtney Force holds the provisional No. 1 spot with a time of 4.032 (315.93).
It also was a memorable day for Beckman.
"As soon as it blew up, the first thing you do is get the chutes out. I went for the chutes and for the brakes. The levers were gone with the rest of the body.
It covered my visor with oil, blew the (visor) up about a quarter of an inch. Other than that everything was fine.
"I'm thinking to myself, the body is gone don't wreck the car. I'm trying to keep it off the wall, but I don't even know where the wall is.
It started slowing down, bouncing and sliding around and out of the corner of my eye I could see the wall. I'm thinking I hope Capps is either way in front or way behind right now.
"There wasn't a whole lot of warning. In four seconds I'm not sure how much you're going to get anyway. The following are DSR qualifying results from Thursday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona:
Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing) 4.032 sec., 315.93 mph
Johnny Gray, Big O Tires/Service Central Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 3
Session 1: 4.065 sec., 312.66 mph
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 5
Session 1: 4.117 sec., 273.00 mph
Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 13
Session 1: 7.675 sec., 71.87 mph
Matt Hagan, Mopar/Aaron's Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 18
Session 1: 8.279 sec., 79.89 mph
Thursday's qualifying rained out
Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army dragster
Spencer Massey, FRAM/Prestone dragster
48TH ANNUAL AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS AT POMONA, CALIF. SCHEDULE
Friday: 2 p.m., qualifying
Saturday: noon, 3 p.m., qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
Don Schumacher Racing