Denver: Jack Beckman preview

DEFENDING DENVER CHAMP BECKMAN READY FOR CHANGES NORTH HILLS, Calif. (July 7, 2008) - Defending Mopar-Mile High NHRA Nationals Funny Car champion Jack Beckman is ready for this weekend's 2008 edition at beautiful Bandimere Speedway outside of ...

DEFENDING DENVER CHAMP BECKMAN READY FOR CHANGES

NORTH HILLS, Calif. (July 7, 2008) - Defending Mopar-Mile High NHRA Nationals Funny Car champion Jack Beckman is ready for this weekend's 2008 edition at beautiful Bandimere Speedway outside of Denver as the nitro teams prepare to compete for the first time to the 1000-ft. mark instead of the standard 1320-ft. finish line of a quarter-mile dragstrip.

Beckman, who drives the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T for Don Schumacher Racing, defeated his teammate Ron Capps in last year's event, then won the next race in Seattle to collect his two victories of the 2007 season.

"All I want to do is as well as we did last year," said Beckman, who is 13th in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings this season aiming to be in the top 10 for the Countdown to the Championship, which begins after the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend. "It's interesting, because a lot of people said to me, 'Ah, man you do great in Denver and on the Western Swing.' Well the reality is we have a different car, different crew this time. The only thing that hasn't changed on the team is the driver, and I don't know if that counts for anything.

"I would definitely say there's a comfort level going back as defending champion and I don't feel any extra pressure. I might get my name mentioned a couple of extra times on the p.a., and I think that's great."

As for the new interim step by the NHRA to shorten the race tracks, "My initial reaction was I was shocked," said Beckman. "It's an enormous change, but I think before anybody starts over-reacting they need to look at what NHRA's purpose is. NHRA has been defined by the quarter-mile since 1951, so this is probably one of the last alterations NHRA wanted to make. So you know that they've done a lot of soul searching and consideration and realize it's a good thing.

"The more I've thought about it, I realize it's probably the most prudent decision that they can make with the status of what we know today, with Scott Kalitta's (fatal) accident (in Englishtown, N.J.) and some other issues. It's still going to be good racing, it'll probably cut down on some of the engine explosions, and you'll still see 300-mph race cars at just about every single race track.

"I imagine it's going to cut 15 mph off of the cars, but combine that with the fact that you have an extra 320 feet of shutdown area, it's really like having another 500-700 feet to slow these race cars down."

So what can the fans expect in Denver? "They'll see the first Funny Car run in the 4.20s, that's for sure," said Beckman, "and the first 3-second Top Fuel car is not too far away, either. It's going to be interesting. You have to remember that most of NHRA's fans are very hardcore people and they judge things on the score card that they're used to and that is quarter-mile ET and speed, so it's going to be an enormous adjustment for them and I'm sure you're going to hear some grumbling from the fans. It would be like we switched to the metric system overnight. But I think once you go to a few races you'll realize what's a good pass speed- and ET-wise and then it will be more of an apples-to-apples comparison.

"My hat is off to NHRA for making this big of a change and potentially affecting their image short term. The Pro Stock cars and everybody else are still going to be running to the quarter-mile; the nitro cars won't. Honestly, it's not going to make any difference appeal-wise to the fans. They'll still see 300 mph, they'll still see side-by-side racing, they're going to sound the same, they're going to smell the same. What you're losing is the last seven tenths of a second of the run. Don't blink, I tell you. And we thought these races were close before."

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Scott Kalitta , Jack Beckman , Don Schumacher