WITH AN IMPROVED FUNNY CAR UNDER HIM, BECKMAN LOSES A CLOSE ONE IN E-TOWN'S FIRST ROUND ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 14, 2009) - Despite losing in the opening round of Funny Car eliminations at the NHRA SuperNationals today to Ashley Force Hood, Jack...
WITH AN IMPROVED FUNNY CAR UNDER HIM, BECKMAN LOSES A CLOSE ONE IN E-TOWN'S FIRST ROUND
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 14, 2009) - Despite losing in the opening round of Funny Car eliminations at the NHRA SuperNationals today to Ashley Force Hood, Jack Beckman and crew chief Johnny West were buoyed by the improved performance of the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge, crediting Don Schumacher Racing team manager Lee Beard for his technical input.
Beckman struggled to qualify for this event, ending up in 16th place after the final of four qualifying rounds was rained out on Saturday. Without lane choice, and after no Top Fuel car won out of the right lane in that class's first round of eliminations, Beckman was relegated to that lane. He took off at the starting lights having the edge with a .101 reaction time (.000 is perfect) to Force Hood's .150. He was ahead at the 660-foot mark of the 1000-foot race track, but couldn't hold off Force Hood's winning 4.067-second lap at 309.84 mph with his 4.124/302.82. Margin of victory: a mere four feet.
"We got behind the 8-ball," explained Beckman. "We made wholesale changes Saturday afternoon, and the rain came and we didn't get the last tune-up run. And the same thing kind of bit us in Chicago (last weekend, where he lost in the first round). Last year, when Johnny came on board and snuck up on a winning combo, we never were off by much so we could always make tiny changes and the car would respond.
"Well, we're trying to take that one step forward and pick up a few hundredths of a second and be a class leader again and what happens is a lot of times you get a little off track in that and now you can't make that one little change to find yourself again. So, you wind up making several changes and there's a lot of information to disseminate here.
"So, with Lee with DSR now, we have an extra set of eyes and ears and another philosophy to take a look at the package. He was able to point out stuff from his experience, Johnny and John (Collins, assistant crew chief) used their experience, and we've got what looks to be a good car back.
"We need to take this knowledge to Norwalk and feed on it again to get back the consistency and go for that quickness again."
Said West, "(Team owner) Don Schumacher had asked me to have Lee come in, help us out, see if there's problems that he could identify, isolate. He did that for the first three runs this weekend. He could see the direction we were going in wasn't really producing, and that we didn't have enough information with it. We went back to what we knew would work and obviously it produced on a good track. And, without Lee bringing that to light for us, helping John and me make the right decisions, we probably wouldn't have even gotten by the first round. We probably would have smoked the tires.
"Lee has been really instrumental in helping build up our confidence, so we could think in a positive mode. That really helped us this week. Now we're just going to press on, go to Norwalk, and start getting back in the front of the pack like we did last year."
Next up is the NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, June 26-28.