2013 NHRA: Jack Beckman NHRA Arizona Nationals Event Preview
It doesn't take much for Jack Beckman to get jazzed about going to a drag race whether driving or spectating.
But this weekend near Phoenix the reigning NHRA Funny Car world champion's excitement is off the charts.
Not only has he won three Funny Car titles in the past five years at the track south of Phoenix, but his Dodge Charger R/T will be adorned with a special paint scheme to promote Mail Terminal Service's Mail for Wounded Warriors/Hire a Hero program.
Beckman's longtime sponsor MTS, which is owned by Phoenix-area residents Rodger and Karen Comstock, will have postcards at each of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events this year for fans to send a note to a soldier who returned from service with injuries. The cards will be distributed to local VA hospitals. Additionally, MTS will donate $1 to Wounded Warriors for each card turned in throughout the season.
"We'll have the MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors Dodge body on our racecar for Phoenix," said Beckman, the reigning NHRA Funny Car world champion for Don Schumacher Racing. This is the first of seven races that Mail for Wounded Warriors will be featured on the car.
"We started the program at Pomona, but we'll have a bigger impact in Phoenix with that very special body on our car. I have a strong relationship with Rodger and Karen, and they care so much about our soldiers and that's wonderful."
The Comstocks spearheaded a "Mail from Home" campaign from 2007 to 2010 that generated nearly 1 million postcards that were delivered to American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"MTS will have a kiosk available for NHRA fans to participate in this worthwhile program near Jack's pit area at all 24 races this year," said Rodger Comstock, president and chief executive officer of Mail Terminal Services. "We will supply postcards for fans to express gratitude, support, thanks and offer encouragement to those who sacrificed for our freedom."
Beckman, a cancer survivor and former sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, also would like to celebrate with Wounded Warriors in the winner's circle at Phoenix.
"I've had great luck at Phoenix, and I don't know why," he said. "Three of my 15 Funny Car trophies came at Firebird. I don't think I drive any better there, I don't think our tune-ups are better there. But it is a cool feeling where you're familiar with the winner's circle."
Added incentive for Beckman and his team is rebounding for a disappointing first-round loss last Sunday in the season-opening NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., after qualifying No. 2.
"We have something to prove now. We've come out and stumbled from the get-go. We're always trying to do the best we can do, and we're going to figure out what's wrong with our hot rod."
(Contact Karen Comstock at email@example.com for information on the MTS/Mail for Wounded Warriors campaign or go to mailterminals.com. For information on the Wounded Warriors Project visit WoundedWarriorProject.org.)
2013 Pts Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
9th 1 0 0 0 0 0-1
CAREER Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
156 15 16 8 6 204-135
JACK'S CAREER BEST TIME, SPEED
Beckman 3.986* (10-7-12, Reading), 320.58* (10-5-12, Reading)
* NHRA national record
JACK AT PHOENIX
A year ago: Qualified No. 6 and lost to Mike Neff in the semifinals.
Career: Wins 3 (2011, 2010, 2008); runner-ups 0; poles 0
LAST WEEK AT POMONA
DSR's Tony Schumacher in the U.S. Army dragster advanced to the Winternationals championship round of Top Fuel where he lost a close race to Shawn Langdon of Al-Anabi Racing; Ron Capps put the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T into the final round but lost traction and Courtney Force of John Force Racing produced the quickest run of the weekend. ...
In an unplanned test of the strength and safety of DSR-built Top Fuel Dragsters and innovative enclosed safety canopy, reigning world champion Antron Brown walked away unscathed from a horrific crash at nearly 300 mph that destroyed his Matco Tools dragster. Brown will be at Phoenix with an all-new car and eager to run in Friday's first qualifying session.
THIS WEEK AT FIREBIRD
WHAT: 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals
WHERE: Firebird International Raceway, south of Phoenix
Friday: Qualifying, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: Qualifying, 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11:30 a.m.
Sunday: Qualifying, 1 a.m., 8 a.m. (ET)
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 8 p.m. (ET)
Friday: High 63; 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 69; 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 64; 0 percent chance of rain
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES
(After 1 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Courtney Force, 124
2. RON CAPPS, 94
3. JOHNNY GRAY, 76
4. Bob Tasca III, 71
5. Gary Densham, 60
6. Cruz Pedregon, 56
7. MATT HAGAN, 52
8. Todd Lesenko, 51
9. JACK BECKMAN, 43
10. Del Worsham, 38