Las Vegas II: Jack Beckman final summary

BECKMAN WINS VEGAS! LAS VEGAS (Oct. 29, 2006) - Competing in only his fourth-ever NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car race since joining Don Schumacher Racing after the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day this year, Jack Beckman won his first ...


LAS VEGAS (Oct. 29, 2006) - Competing in only his fourth-ever NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car race since joining Don Schumacher Racing after the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day this year, Jack Beckman won his first NHRA pro event today at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It was an awesome result for the cancer survivor, former Air Force sergeant, and Frank Hawley Drag Racing School instructor, as he defeated Gary Densham, Del Worsham, Tony Bartone and finally Tommy Johnson Jr., to collect a milestone victory in the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.

No. 4 qualifier Beckman, 40, of North Hills, Calif., enjoyed lane choice for every round, defeating his opponents with four consistent passes: 4.793/324.90, 4.825/322.88, 4.803/324.05 and a 4.783/327.19.

Don Schumacher Racing swept three of the four pro categories today, with Richie Stevens Jr. winning Pro Stock and Tony Schumacher claiming the Top Fuel title.

"Since Don Schumacher hired me, it's been a steep, steep learning curve," said Beckman in the winner's circle, "but I had a lot of help. Frank's (Hawley) been working with me some, (Ron) Capps, (Gary) Scelzi, Mike Ashley. We sit down and talk. I had a lot of help from my teammates at DSR. And it really is a team. It's a business enterprise, but there really is a sense that we're pulling for each other. When Richie won I couldn't jump up and down (because) I was strapped in the Funny Car, and when Tony won, we were all happy for him. To get to share the podium with two teammates up here it's just an amazing culmination to the day.

"And, God, I'm looking over there at the Matco Tools Funny Car and that's the baddest group of crew members over there. Those nine guys, they're the ones that made that car run.

"One of the things about drag racing is it will eat you alive if you let the lows be too low," Beckman continued in the press room. "So, you kind of have to temper things a little bit, things like weather, track conditions, scheduling, anything that burns nitro. Sometimes it doesn't go the way you would like it to go. So, if the lows aren't quite as low, it means you kind of clipped off a little bit of the highs. I think I just bypassed that when I got out of the car down there.

"I've always kind of thought to myself, You want to be a dignified loser, you want to be a dignified winner. It kind of went out the door when the roof hatch opened down there at the other end. To do something like this has been a dream of mine for 33 years, since I was 7 and I first got taken to a drag strip. And it's something that you want very much.

"To come here to a track that I love to race at - I've had a lot of successes here (in Sportsman racing) - and to be able to do it in Vegas in front of a lot of my friends in an area close to my home, this is probably as high as it gets."

Beckman was clearly grateful to his Matco Tools crew: "There are nine gentlemen over there that are more responsible for this win than me. In my opinion, a driver's job in a nitro car, especially in a Funny Car, is to let the crew chiefs' number crop on the scoreboard. In other words, you gotta leave on time, and you gotta keep the car in the groove so the tires stay hooked up. And if the crew chiefs put a good tune-up in it, that big number will crop up there.

"I think drag racing successes over the years are more based on chemistry than intelligence, and we've got both over there (at DSR). Phil Shuler (assistant crew chief) and Todd Okuhara (crew chief) - one's from South Carolina, one's from Hawaii - are like brothers. There's no egos on that team. They key ideas off of each other. They're just geniuses with this stuff.

"We had a broken fuel line on the warm-up before the final. Shut the car off, nobody had to panic. We put another one on it, re-fired the race car and went out there. The guys just have such good chemistry over there. For them to be as accommodating to me as they are is more than I could ask for coming into the team. I never got any of that razzing when I made mistakes, let the car out of the groove, which maybe cost us some qualifying positions. They were more than supportive. I hope today we gave them back a little bit of that and a big thank you with that trophy.

"And this is for the 1500 Matco Tools distributors out there who have supported this team for so many years."

Said team owner Don Schumacher: "A year ago in Reading three DSR teams won (Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle), so this is the second time my team has been able to do that, but it's the first time we've done it with Pro Stock, Top Fuel and Funny Car. It's just a fantastic weekend here in Las Vegas. Great race track, great teams, and the guys really deserve all of the credit. And every driver, without a doubt."

Next up is the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway, Nov. 9-12, 2006.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr. , Tony Bartone , Del Worsham , Tony Schumacher , Gary Densham , Jack Beckman , Mike Ashley , Don Schumacher , Frank Hawley , Tommy Johnson Jr.