2013 NHRA: Jack Beckman Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Event Preview
Jack Beckman hopes his newest key can unlock the secret to what it will take for his Valvoline MaxLife/MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors Funny Car team to enter the winner's circle.
Beckman was given the key to the City of Norco, Calif., on Saturday during "Fast Jack Beckman Day" in the Southern California city where he lives with his wife, Jenna, and their two children.
It was the city's way to honor Beckman for winning the 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Series Funny Car world championship and for his work as a national spokesman for the Chemotherapy: Myths or Facts campaign.
"It was a very nice day and I was able to see some old friends, but I'm not really the kind of person and likes that kind of attention," Beckman said. "But I like the attention our team gets after we win. I still can't believe we haven't done that yet this season."
Beckman, who will drive the Don Schumacher Hall of Fame Tribute Dodge Charger R/T this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway in northern Minnesota, has advanced to only one championship round this season after winning three titles a year ago.
He ranks seventh in championship points with two events remaining before only the top-10 drivers are qualified for the Countdown to the Championship. Beckman set Brainerd's Funny Car elapsed time record a year ago when he won the pole with a time of 4.018 seconds before losing in the second round to Don Schumacher Racing teammate and current points leader Matt Hagan.
Beckman has yet to win a title at Brainerd and has a lot riding on this weekend's outcome.
His lead over the No. 11 spot in the standings is a precarious 113 points so solid performances - if not a win - this weekend and at the U.S. Nationals two weeks later near Indianapolis are musts.
He and crew chief Todd Smith also are working toward qualifying for the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout all-star event held within the U.S. Nationals. The Shootout field of eight teams is for the first seven event titlists of the year along with the No. 8 contestant who will be selected by a fan vote between Brainerd and the U.S. Nationals.
Six drivers are qualified and the seventh will be the Brainerd winner if he or she has yet to win a title this season or will go to the driver without title in 2013 who is highest in points. According to the current standings, that would be Beckman.
JACK BECKMAN, DON SCHUMACHER HALL OF FAME DODGE CHARGER R/T
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2013 7th 16 0 1 4 1 0 18-15
CAREER 172 15 17 32 8 6 224-151
BEST TIME, SPEED
3.986 seconds** (10-7-12, Reading), 320.58 mph** (10-5-12, Reading) **NHRA records
BECKMAN TRACK STATS
Last event: Aug. 4, Kent, Wash.; lost in first round to Johnny Gray.
A year ago: Qualified No. 1; lost in second round to Matt Hagan.
Career wins: 0
Career runner-ups: 2 (2010, 2008)
Career poles: 1 (2012)
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS SCHEDULE
Friday: Nitro qualifying, 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m.
Saturday: Nitro qualifying, 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m.
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m.
Saturday: Qualifying, 11 p.m. (ET), delayed
Sunday: Eliminations, 9 p.m. (ET), delayed
Friday: High 79; 10 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 80; 20 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 81; 10 percent chance of rain
NHRA MELLO YELLO SERIES STANDINGS
(After 16 of 24 events; through Kent, Wash.; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN, 1,151*
2. Cruz Pedregon, 1,034
3. RON CAPPS, 1,017
4. John Force, 996
5. JOHNNY GRAY, 991
6. Courtney Force, 983
7. JACK BECKMAN, 951
8. Tim Wilkerson, 877
9. Bob Tasca III 874
10. Robert Hight, 841
*Clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship
WINNERS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN.
TRAXXAS NITRO SCHOOTOUT QUALIFIERS
The NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts, which are races within U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near over Labor Day Weekend, showcases Top Fuel on Aug. 31 (Saturday) and Funny Car on Sept. 1 (Sunday). Each Nitro Shootout champ will receive $100,000 for their teams.
The following drivers have qualified by winning Mello Yello Series titles this season:
1. Courtney Force (Pomona 1)
2. RON CAPPS (PHOENIX)
3. JOHNNY GRAY (GAINESVILLE)
4. Cruz Pedregon (Las Vegas 1)
5. MATT HAGAN (CHARLOTTE 1)
6. John Force (Bristol)
8. Fan vote
** The seventh driver will be determined by the winner of this weekend's event at Brainerd, Minn., if it is that driver's first title of the year, or by the driver highest in points without having won a title this season.