Bristol: Jack Beckman final report

BECKMAN SURVIVES WILD WIN OVER J. FORCE, BOWS OUT IN BRISTOL SECOND ROUND BRISTOL, Tenn. (May 17, 2009) - Driving the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, Jack Beckman survived a spectacular first-round ...

BECKMAN SURVIVES WILD WIN OVER J. FORCE, BOWS OUT IN BRISTOL SECOND ROUND

BRISTOL, Tenn. (May 17, 2009) - Driving the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, Jack Beckman survived a spectacular first-round match-up against 14-time Funny Car champion John Force to land in the quarterfinals, where he was defeated by Tim Wilkerson.

Beckman struck the tires but crossed the finish line first in his dual over Force with a winning 5.138-second elapsed time at 180.84 mph, while Force was disqualified for crossing the centerline...and veering directly in front of Beckman. Fortunately, there was no contact and both cars survived the near-miss.

In the quarterfinal, Beckman's race against Wilkerson was a close one after both launched with nearly identical reaction times, but it was Wilkerson first across the finish stripe by a margin of 19 feet over Beckman: 4.187/295.27 for Wilkerson; 4.233/297.48 for Beckman.

"We just didn't get the job done," said Beckman. "Wilkerson outran us that round. I think we had a great recovery from smoking the tires first round to put that competitive lap up there, but it wasn't enough.

"There's no excuse. And that's why we're going to test here tomorrow. We're going to try to do some things to pick this car up earlier in the run and we'll play around with the clutch and fuel system. The idea is to make it more consistent and a little bit quicker.

"Some might ask, 'Why don't you just go back to exactly how it was last year?' This is a slightly different chassis than last year and we've got different clutch discs than we had last year. We get them in batches and they're not all identical. We will do a little bit of poking around tomorrow and hopefully it will lead us in a direction that the car wants to go."

As for his wild ride against Force: "I've been wearing glasses lately for better vision. If they're going to give me vision that good for the rest of the year I don't ever want to wear them again," he said with a laugh.

"First off, I went out there, our car shook, started spinning (the tires), so I pedaled it. It moved over towards the centerline quite a bit. So, I had my hands full and I had my eyes full. I'm trying to get the car back over in the middle of the lane. And then all of a sudden this big green-and-white thing is sideways in my lane.

"And in these cars every thing is delayed. You hit the throttle, there's a small delay, You lift off the throttle, there's a small delay. You move the steering wheel and it doesn't respond right away at speed because there's so much downforce that every thing deflects and it's got play in it. So, it looked like I wasn't doing anything for a while.

"I'm telling the car to go right, I'm steering the car right and it's not going right. And there's Force further in my lane. So, this is that moment when you're thinking, Do I try to lock the brakes up, which means letting go of the steering wheel with one hand, or do I try to get back on the throttle without being too abrupt and squeeze on through?

"So I'm trying to squeeze the throttle down and by that time he'd started moving over some, and I shot by him. Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful run," he said with another laugh.

How close was he to Force? "Too close," he said. "There should be a minimum of a 30-foot distance between these cars" he said, continuing to smile. "It's never as close as it looks from the side or behind because there's overlap in your vision. But I don't think there was more than 15 feet between us. And I don't recommend that at 200 mph unless you're driving in left turns."

Beckman is fifth in the point standings following today's event.

-credit: dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Jack Beckman , Don Schumacher