Reading: Jack Beckman final report

BECKMAN WINS READING! MOHNTON, Pa. (Aug. 17, 2008) - Driving the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, "Fast" Jack Beckman claimed his second Funny Car national-event win in his fourth final round of the season today at...


MOHNTON, Pa. (Aug. 17, 2008) - Driving the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, "Fast" Jack Beckman claimed his second Funny Car national-event win in his fourth final round of the season today at the 24th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, outside of Reading, Pa. He also reached his ninth career final round (and second consecutive), capturing the fifth victory of his short pro NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series career, by defeating his mentor and employer Frank Hawley, founder of Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School.

Beckman, of North Hills, Calif., is also ninth in the Funny Car point standings and clinched a spot in the Countdown to 1 championship playoffs, which begin for the top 10 following the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis in two weeks.

En route to the final round, the No. 13 qualifier defeated Funny Car points leader Tim Wilkerson (4.219/296.31), 14-time Funny Car champion John Force (4.185/290.51) and Cruz Pedregon (4.183/291.57).

This win follows his runner-up finish last Sunday in Brainerd, Minn., where he fouled out in the final round against Tony Pedregon.

"It's nice to be able to redeem yourself in a seven-day period." said Beckman, who debuted for Don Schumacher Racing here in Reading in 2006. "It's funny. Hawley comes up to me before the final and says, 'Jack I want you to completely get out of your mind what happened last weekend. Don't even think about that.' I said, Frank, we don't teach mind games at the school. We're not supposed to be doing that.

"Obviously, I let the team down (in Brainerd). We did have the best car last week. I screwed up. We had a great car this weekend and it was nice to get a chance to get back in the final, wait for the green light before I stepped on the throttle and get that win. And just to get to race Frank Hawley in the final [was awesome].

"Imagine being a Little League player and you get to pitch against Mickey Mantle. Frank Hawley has been all of that to the sport. To have him come back in adds a whole other dimension to this...and, hell no, I wasn't going to cut him any slack.

"Like the last thing we needed was another tough Funny Car. I was so happy for him when he won his rounds and he was happy for me all the way up to the final round, so that was cool. It was just a fairy tale weekend, it really was."

As for his steady runs throughout the weekend: "The Valvoline/MTS Dodge guys gave me such a great consistent race car," he said. "A couple of times it wanted to move over toward the centerline, but it was a pretty smooth car all weekend long. Didn't throw us any curve balls out there.

"(Crew chief) Johnny West is a very conservative-by-nature type of guy, so he and (assistant crew chief) Tommy Delago balance each other well and I think now that we've been consistent for a few races we're starting to get quick and I think if we can take that to cold-weather tracks we will be contending for the championship."

Said West: "There's a lot of mixed emotions. The Valvoline/MTS Dodge has been running really good. It's like Austin Coil (John Force's crew chief) told me a long time ago, everybody tells you you've done a real good job (when you win). We've been doing the same job; we just finally had good results. The biggest part is the entire Schumacher group and all the people at the shop and the guys who build the chassis - that's the nucleus of the whole operation. I just came in and brought a little continuity and that's what probably helped make this thing turn the corner. Outside of that, I really haven't done anything different than what I've normally done my whole life."

Added Delago: "It feels really good. We know what it feels like to win early on in the year and we know what it feels like to struggle quite a bit and have a little bit of a slump. Since Johnny (West) has come on board and started working with Ed 'Ace' McCulloch (NAPA crew chief) and they've been working together it seems like things are making a turn for the better."

"It was a great race," said team owner Don Schumacher, whose son Tony Schumacher also won Top Fuel today. Beckman and Schumacher collected DSR's 114th and 115th national event wins today. "For both Tony and Jack to come out on top and the teams do what they're supposed to do was terrific. What a bunch of fantastic people I'm fortunate enough to have and to have sponsors like the U.S. Army, Valvoline and Mail Terminal Services on board and Matco Tools and all our other great sponsors. It's a great weekend."

Next up is the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29-Sept. 1.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Don Schumacher , Austin Coil , Frank Hawley