Jack Beckman Grabs Fourth Starting Spot For NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Jack Beckman drove the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the fourth starting position for Sunday’s 11th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals during a “roller-coaster” final-qualifying round today here at Bristol Dragway.
After being in the top half of the field following each of the first three sessions, the Don Schumacher Racing driver found himself in the bottom group as he came to the starting line for his fourth run of the weekend.
“This last session is what you want to see if you are a drag racing fan, but not necessarily if you are a driver, crew chief or part of a team,” explained the Southern Californian who put down a 4.087-second lap at 311.70 miles per hour in the last round. “It was filled with great runs and lots of bumping up and down in the order; exciting for fans, nerve wracking for us.
“Rahn (Tobler, crew chief) and John (Collins, assistant crew chief) took a shot at it, at the track, and it stuck.”
Beckman faces Jim Head in the first round of Sunday’s final eliminations, which are scheduled to begin at noon ET. He has defeated Head in all three of their 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series meetings to date, most recently last month in the quarterfinals of the Topeka race.
Track and air conditions changed drastically between Saturday’s third and fourth rounds following a lengthy thunderstorm-caused delay. The quickest time prior to the final session was a 4.107; seven drivers bettered this mark in the final session. Bob Tasca III took the pole position with a 4.056, 314.31 lap.
Beckman’s weekend opened Friday afternoon with a 4.179-second, 297.02-mph lap, followed in the nightcap by a better run of 4.125 at 305.42. The Aaron’s/Valvoline machine did not improve during Saturday’s hot third round, but the 4.214 pass at 293.41 was sixth-best of the session, a top-half time.
“We’ve had four good runs so far this weekend,” Beckman said. “We are in good shape for the race and I would really like to win it, but for more than the obvious reason: my dad’s here – he rode his motorcycle 1,020 miles from his home in Texas – and I would really love to give him a Wally for Father’s Day.”