2012 NHRA: Jack Beckman Las Vegas II Event Preview
When Jack Beckman left Las Vegas after the NHRA event in April, he was a little bewildered.
After his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps failed to qualify for the NHRA event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, team owner Don Schumacher moved Beckman's veteran crew chief Rahn Tobler to Capps' team. Tobler was able to take his crew and racecars.
That left Beckman wondering what his chances were of trying to match, or better yet, improve on his No. 2 finish in last season's Funny Car standings in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
He left Las Vegas with a crew but no crew chief.
But the following week, Schumacher hired veteran Top Fuel crew chief Todd Smith, who had never led a Funny Car team, to join Beckman and Terry Snyder, Capps' former assistant crew chief.
"Yes, you get disappointed, yes, you get used to the continuity of staying with the same team and change can be difficult," Beckman said. "I've never driven for a bad crew chief at DSR. In fact, all seven of the ones I've had have given me a car that's won a race."
That has continued since Smith took the helm. Together, they have won three event titles in the past 14 races and set NHRA elapsed-time and speed records. They also have not qualified lower that third in the past nine events and have been No. 1 four times including the last two races.
Beckman will start racing Friday with a 23-point lead over Capps and 54-point lead over Mike Neff of John Force Racing.
"Don is a genius at doing this, and I don't second guess him."
Beckman and his Battery eXtender Powered by Schumacher Electric/Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T took the points lead from Capps on Oct. 8 near Reading, Pa., in the series' most recent event.
Beckman was able move around Capps at Reading when he earned 20 bonus points for setting an NHRA national elapsed time record of 3.986 seconds and advanced to the semifinals after he eliminated Capps in the second round.
Immediately after the big switch in April, Tobler and assistant crew chief John Collins continued to help Smith and Beckman's new crew for a few races while Smith became adjusted to the Funny Car.
"Rahn Tobler and John Collins, never let us go," Beckman said. "They always were there to offer advice and help us and support us.
"I'm pretty sure they're not going to be offering us any advice for the next two races, but as you can tell, the proof is the way things turned out for both teams."
Jack Beckman, Battery eXtender Powered by Schumacher/Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T
Career at Las Vegas: Wins 1 (2006-Oct.), Runner-ups 1 (2009-Oct.), Poles 0
2012 April at Las Vegas: Qualified No. 3, lost to Cruz Pedregon in second round
2011 October at Las Vegas: Qualified No. 8, lost to Ron Capps in second round
2012 Pts Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
1st 21 3 0 4 1 33-17
Career Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
154 15 15 8 6 201-133
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
Countdown to the Championship
(Through Oct. 8, 2012; DSR drivers in CAPS)
FUNNY CAR Points Pts. Behind
1. JACK BECKMAN 2,437 --
2. RON CAPPS 2,414 -23
3. Mike Neff 2,383 -54
4. JOHNNY GRAY 2,246 -191
5. Cruz Pedregon 2,244 -193
6. John Force 2,217 -220
7. Courtney Force 2,216 -221
8. Robert Hight 2,211 -226
9. Tim Wilkerson 2,207 -230
10. Jeff Arend 2,180 -257
11. MATT HAGAN 1,129
Friday: 1, 4 p.m., qualifying
Saturday: 12, 3 p.m., qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., eliminations
Friday: High 72, 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 77, 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 79, 0 percent chance of rain
ESPN2 SCHEDULE (subject to change):
Sunday: 4-5 p.m. ET, qualifying
Sunday: 8-11 p.m. ET, eliminations