NOT THE TIME TO STUMBLE, SAYS BECKMAN OF RICHMOND RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 7, 2008) - With just three national events remaining in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and the Countdown to 1 playoffs, Jack Beckman knows this is not the time to...
NOT THE TIME TO STUMBLE, SAYS BECKMAN OF RICHMOND
RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 7, 2008) - With just three national events remaining in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and the Countdown to 1 playoffs, Jack Beckman knows this is not the time to stumble as he battles for his first Funny Car championship from second place.
This weekend's third annual Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park for the driver of the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car is critical as he fights to stay alive in a scramble that has seen him jump from out of the top 10 and into serious contention in the last 10 events.
The California native has won more eliminations rounds than any other Funny Car driver since NHRA changed the race-track length from 1320 feet to 1000 feet, 22/7 to be exact, and trails points leader Tim Wilkerson by 72 points. Twelve rounds remain to earn 20 points for each round win plus valuable qualifying points.
"This is where it becomes a race for No. 1 or No. 2. This is the race where, if anybody is going to contend for the championship, Wilkerson is going to have to stumble early and we're going to have to go to the final round," says Beckman, who has three victories in six final rounds this season.
"It doesn't mean that it's over, but with 12 rounds left and his having a four-round lead over everybody you can't let another race go away and lose those four potential rounds and have him leave with a four-round lead. It's going to make it next to impossible to catch him.
"The great news is, as good as our Valvoline/MTS Dodge is running and as unpredictable as nitro Funny Car in this outrageously competitive class this year, there's a great chance we can make it to another final round. We can't control what Tim does. The only thing that we can hope is that we get him in one of the early rounds. But we absolutely can control our own destiny by winning rounds.
"And I don't want to be in a race for second; I want to be in a race for first," he adds. Behind Beckman in points are Robert Hight and Tony Pedregon, two and four points back, respectively, followed by Ashley Force (20 points) and Cruz Pedregon (43). No one can deny that this weekend's event will be filled with drama and excitement.
Virginia was the site in 2007 when Beckman and his teammates Gary Scelzi and Ron Capps were fighting for a spot in the Countdown to 1 for the top four drivers, and it was Beckman who was bumped out by his Don Schumacher Racing partners.
"The reality is it wasn't Richmond that bumped us out," says Beckman. "We had four races, 16 rounds, to do our thing and we fell one round short. Of course, Richmond last year was our bottom of the ninth for our trying to do that, so it really was disappointing, but the other side says it's a nice venue, I've got 16 relatives coming out here so I've got a huge cheering section, and the last that time that happened was in Reading this year and that ended up pretty well for us (his second win of the season). So, I'm looking forward to it.
"Last year is history, it's all about 2008 right now," he adds. Beckman qualified No. 5 in Virginia in 2007, lost second round to Tony Bartone.
The Mail from Home program allows fans and competitors an opportunity to sign unique cards in the Don Schumacher Racing hospitality area and at a kiosk within the U.S. Army Racing Zone at NHRA national events with messages to the U.S. troops overseas, which are then distributed free to war-zone camps by MTS. The number of postcards distributed by MTS in 2008 is expected to exceed the 90,000 mark that was reached in 2007.