Valvoline's Beckman takes winning tradition to Phoenix this weekend for race on new surface at track with new name
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 18, 2014) - If the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series decided to add a second national event near Phoenix on its schedule each year, Jack Beckman wouldn't complain.
The popular driver has won 20 percent of his Mello Yello Series titles - three of 15 - over the past nine years at the track outside Chandler, Ariz. He owns titles there from 2008, 2010 and 2011.
"There's really no magic elixir we've used to win at Phoenix," Jack said, adding he has won there with two different crew chiefs (Rahn Tobler in 2010 and 2011, and Johnny West in 2008) with two titles in February and one in the fall.
"Sometime, things just line up right for you."
While he wants his success to continue at the track when racing begins Friday with qualifying sessions at 2 and 4:30 p.m., in many ways it will be a different facility for the 30th annual national event at the track. The facility, formerly Firebird International Raceway, is now Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park with new management and a virtually new racing surface. About 600 feet of the old surface has been removed and replaced with concrete.
Jack, who also won the 2003 NHRA Sportsman world championship competing in Super Comp, will participate in Thursday's media-only event that will include Jack giving rides in the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School's unique 160-mph two-seat dragster.
But those laps won't transfer to helping Jack gain his fourth Mello Yello title at the track.
"The last three events when I gave two-seater rides I didn't win the Funny Car title, so it didn't help me on race day," Jack said.
And that includes two weeks ago when he gave rides during the season-opener at Pomona, Calif. Jack needed his fourth and final qualifying attempt to qualify for championship eliminations and was upset in the opening round by teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.
But valuable experience was gained for his crew on his 4.049-second, 312.86-mph qualifying run late Saturday afternoon. Only Jack and assistant crew chief Terry Snyder returned to Don Schumacher Racing's Valvoline MaxLife Dodge Charger R/T team. And for the third time in the past four seasons, Jack has a new crew chief. This year veteran Rob Flynn leads his team.
"It was tough going into the last qualifying session and not be qualified, but not only did we run well enough to get in the show but we ran well enough to get a bonus point in that session by being the third quickest.
"I knew it would take a race or two or three for us to jell but there were a lot of good signs at Pomona that showed we're not that far away."
Don Schumacher Racing