BECKMAN RELISHES 'TEAM TO BEAT' STATUS HEADING INTO GAINESVILLE NORCO, Calif. (March 9, 2010) - After Jack Beckman defeated 14-time Funny Car champion John Force in the final round in Phoenix two weeks ago to extend his round-win record over...
BECKMAN RELISHES 'TEAM TO BEAT' STATUS HEADING INTO GAINESVILLE
NORCO, Calif. (March 9, 2010) - After Jack Beckman defeated 14-time Funny Car champion John Force in the final round in Phoenix two weeks ago to extend his round-win record over Force to 11-6 (2-1 in final rounds), he and the Valvoline/MTS team are relishing their status as the team to beat in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Beckman and crew chief Rahn Tobler are hoping the streak will continue in this weekend's 41st annual NHRA Gatornationals.
The driver of the Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger for Don Schumacher Racing is only in his fourth full season in NHRA pro competition, and has already made his mark in the class as a driver, and the results have demonstrated that the driver/team/crew chief combo is worthy of respect.
In his short pro career, having competed in 90 national events, Beckman has won nine of those in 18 final rounds, and holds the national top-speed record of 333.66 mph (racing to 1320 feet) that he set in 2006 in only his fourth race in the Funny Car class.
The cancer survivor and former Air Force sergeant does not have a Gatornationals win on his record, but if the Valvoline/MTS team's performance in the first two races of the season (a semifinal finish and a victory) is any indication, he has an outstanding chance of changing that stat.
"What feels great is not that you necessarily have to have validation to keep going," said Beckman, second in the point standings to Force. "I am well aware that I am unbelievably fortunate to drive for DSR, with Valvoline and Mail Terminal Services supporting us, and have a car that is well enough financed to contend for the championship. I get it.
"But, it was so cool in the off-season to hear from NHRA people and members of the media who said there's quite a few people who think that we're going to be the team to beat this year. And, after going out and punching that thing into the winner's circle the second race of the year, it just kind of reaffirmed it.
"It's a different story between having all the parts and pieces and having the philosophy of a champion. If you're going to be ultimately the person at the top of the mountain at the end of the year, you ought to be able to look around your pits and see that look in the guys' eyes. And I see that look.
"Nitro racing is so unpredictable, competing in cars that produce 8000 horsepower. You can never be overly confident, but you have to feel every time you pull into a race that you've got a legitimate shot of putting that thing in the winner's circle.
"The Gatornationals is definitely an A-list national event. It's one of those must-win deals. It's the East Coast version of the Winternationals. We've already raced a couple of races, but the folks out East haven't seen the new paint jobs, fire suits and crew uniforms. So, there's every bit of excitement for the Easterners as the (season-opening) Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., generated for the West Coast.
"It is perhaps the most consistently sold-out race on our circuit, and I just love that feeling of looking up and seeing no empty seats in the grandstands on that first day of qualifying."
So, how good are his chances to make it two in a row for the Valvoline/MTS team at the Gatornationals? "Even the best teams are going to take several first-round losses throughout the year," he responded. "It's just the nature of driving an 8000-hp car and trying to get traction out there.
"I think it's an awesome feeling towing into the next race after you won the last race. I just think everybody stands a little bit taller and feels a little bit more confident because they want to keep that roll going. We'll see. It's obviously our desire to win again. We got our first win of the year for the MTS 'To Afghanistan With Love' body in Phoenix. Now we want to get our first Valvoline body into the winner's circle."
Mail Terminal Services will continue to send boxes of post cards of support and encouragement, along with hand-out cards of DSR drivers, National Dragster and Drag Racing Action magazines to soldiers overseas. This year the program expands the opportunity to participate beyond just the NHRA fans and are including schools and service organizations. If a school or organization would like to write post cards of encouragement to the U.S. troops, the request should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. MTS will be pleased to send post cards for the project and signed handout cards from Funny Car driver Jack Beckman and a Certificate of Service for the school or organization.