BECKMAN WINS SHOWDOWN, QUALIFIES NO. 3 AT U.S. NATIONALS CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 2, 2007) - Jack Beckman continued to impress today, as he drove the Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car straight into the Skoal Showdown winner's...
BECKMAN WINS SHOWDOWN, QUALIFIES NO. 3 AT U.S. NATIONALS
CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 2, 2007) - Jack Beckman continued to impress today, as he drove the Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car straight into the Skoal Showdown winner's circle, claiming his first victory in this $100,000 bonus event, while snagging the No. 3 qualifying spot for Sunday's U.S. Nationals eliminations.
Beckman's Showdown win marked the first triumph in this event for a Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car since team owner Schumacher added the first Funny Car team to his stable in 2001. It was also the first all-Don Schumacher Racing final round, as Beckman faced off against his teammate and NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series points leader Ron Capps.
With lane choice for the final round, Capps selected what had been considered the less-desirable right lane, the lane in which he had just defeated Mike Ashley. Capps launched first, with a .093 reaction time (.000 is perfect), to Beckman's .104. It was close, but it was Beckman by a nose - seven feet actually - at the finish line, claiming the win with a 4.950-second pass at 313.80 mph to Capps' losing 4.967/315.64.
En route to the final, Beckman defeated Robert Hight in the opening stanza, then eliminated Tommy Johnson Jr. in the semifinal.
In qualifying for Sunday's eliminations, Beckman posted a 4.759/325.85 in Saturday evening's third of five weekend qualifying sessions. His other laps included a 4.810/321.27, a 4.898/318.77, a 4.930/314.46 and a 4.973/314.02.
"It was close," said Beckman, in his first full season of Funny Car competition. "I could hear [noise] from like 800 ft. on, and I didn't know if it was our side of the centerline. It's the first time I really heard the other car next to us. All I was doing was just staring at the win light, saying 'Come on, come on,' and even at 320 mph it takes a long time to get there. Well, the first two rounds I was in the right lane and never saw the win light come on, just the angle of the sun and glare, looking, I couldn't see it. And in the shut down area, by the time the car stops making all the noise, they radioed we won.
"In the final I saw the win light come on and then nothing on the radio. And we get down to the shut down area, I get the car slowed down, I key up the radio, I said, 'Guys, we did win, didn't we?' Nothing on the radio. The guys were applauding as I turned out, and I'm like 'OK, I think we won.' And they're pointing us to what's the winner's lane and I said I'm pretty sure we won, and then they gave us the thumbs up when we got out there. I'm just delighted."
As for team owner Schumacher's decision to put Beckman in the car for the last five events of 2006, in which he qualified No. 1 once, set both ends of the national record and won once in two final rounds: "It actually worked out perfect, I think we kind of vindicated Don's decision on that," said Beckman. "There was a lot of Internet grumbling about doing a mid-season driver change and one of the reasons was because Indy was the first race that counted for the Skoal Showdown points. We actually missed that opportunity to earn points (at the '06 U.S. Nationals), we DNQd twice this year. But everybody DNQ'd, so it leveled it a little bit. We were languishing 10th or 11th up until about seven races ago, and the last nine races we qualified in the top half and in all but two of them we qualified I think in the top four. So we made a pretty strong move through the summer months, to get solidly in the program.
"I'm just so happy for our team, for Don Schumacher Racing, for getting this win."
Beckman faces Scott Kalitta in the first round of eliminations on Sunday, which also kicks off the new Countdown to Four playoffs. "It's interesting," said Beckman. "The top two qualifiers aren't Countdown cars (Jeff Arend and Ashley Force). The thing that I find interesting is the eight cars that made the Countdown obviously are tough. The next five cars, in the last four or five races, really seemed to get their stuff together. So, I think there's going to be a lot of spoiling going on.
"And John Force not qualifying. Let's face it, that's big for us. He was 20 points ahead and we picked up six for [our position in] qualifying and 20 more for qualifying, so we tied him and went six points ahead of him. This is big .
"To get in the eighth spot, and not know we were going to be in until three races ago and then to go win the whole damned thing, plus we had to beat Robert Hight first round, (is awesome).
"I've never raced Robert before. We've run side by side in qualifying a half a dozen times, but we've never raced until then. The guy's amazing, I love him to death, and getting around him, I thought, hmm, this might be our day."
"My teams are just unbelievable," said Schumacher. "The job that Jack and Ron do and all of the guys, (crew chiefs) Ed McCulloch, Todd Okuhara, Phil Shuler and all of the guys on the team have just been fantastic out there all weekend. Gary Scelzi, Mopar, Oakley, Brut, MTS, what can I say? They're all doing a great great job and it's really the teams that are excelling.
"Winning the Skoal Showdown for the first time is fantastic," he added. "I wish both teams could have won it. They both deserved it. I really wish that could have happened."