2013 NHRA: Jack Beckman Carlyle Tools Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Event Preview
Jack Beckman made a bang over Labor Day Weekend during last event of the NHRA Mello Yello Series regular season, and while he plans to make a lot of noise beginning this weekend in the opening event of the six-race Countdown to the Championship, the reigning Funny Car world champion doesn't plan to follow the same theatrics.
A few feet after Beckman crossed the finish line on Sept. 1 to win the Traxxas Nitro Shootout and $100,000, an engine explosion shredded the rear half of his Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car body. Although his ears were ringing until the next morning, he didn't sustain any injuries.
The same couldn't be said of his race car.
"The first four seconds were fantastic. The next 10, not so good," Beckman said of beating Cruz Pedregon for the title with a holeshot that allowed his 4.086-second run to beat Pedregon's quicker 4.066.
Hard work by crew chief Todd Smith, assistant Terry Snyder and the MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors/Valvoline team replaced the body and made the necessary repairs that enabled Beckman to advance to the championship round of the U.S. Nationals where the team lost to Robert Hight of John Force Racing.
The testament to the effort put forth by Beckman's crew was the day after the Shootout in first round of eliminations when the team produced a winning time of 4.019 seconds, which was the quickest Funny Car run of the day.
Beckman admits this hasn't been the season he or his team expected after winning three events and the world championship last November.
Getting the Traxxas trophy and check for winning the specialty event within the U.S. Nationals was a season highlight, but Beckman and his team enter the six-event Countdown this weekend at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte as the only one of 10 qualified drivers who has not won an event title through this year's first 18 races.
"We still haven't won a Wally yet this year," he said of the prestigious NHRA winner's trophy. "We won (the Shootout) but still have not won a Wally. We want it bad. We have six more chances and I think we have a good chance at getting a couple or three of them.
"We certainly expected that we would have won at least one race by now, probably two or three," Beckman said. "It's not for lack of trying or hard work. I believe we are starting to peak at the right time."
Over the past 10 events, Beckman has advanced to his only two championship rounds of the season and twice advanced to the semifinals. The team's two No. 1 qualifying positions came in the past three events.
NHRA's 18-event regular season ended after the U.S. Nationals and points for Countdown drivers were reset at 10-point increments with Beckman's Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan earning a 20-point bonus for finishing at the top of the standings.
Before the points were reset, Beckman trailed Hagan by 187 points but starts the Countdown ranked fifth and 60 points out of first.
"Let's face it, when they reset the points we are all bunched up pretty good at the top so I'm confident.
"I like our progress lately. I think we've positioned ourselves pretty well for a strong run in the Countdown."
JACK BECKMAN, MTS MAIL FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS/VALVOLINE CHARGER R/T
Last event (Sept. 2, Indianapolis): Qualified No. 8; lost in championship round to Robert Hight.
Last race at zMAX Dragway (April 21, 2013, Four-Wide): Qualified No. 3; beat Ron Capps, Dale Creasy Jr., lost to Matt Hagan, Blake Alexander.
Last September at zMAX: Qualified No. 2; lost in semifinals to Mike Neff.
Career at zMAX: Wins 2 (Spring-2011, 2008) runner-ups 1 (Sept.-2010); poles 0
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2013 5th 18 0 2 4 8 3 2 0 22-18
CAREER 174 15 18 32 51 52 11 6 228-153
Best Time, Speed: Beckman 3.986 sec.** (10-7-12, Reading, Pa.), 320.58 mph** (10-5-12, Reading); ** NHRA record
CARLYLE TOOLS CAROLINA NATIONALS presented by NAPA
Friday: 5:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1 p.m., 3:15 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: Noon, championship eliminations
ON ESPN2 (times are ET)
Saturday: TBD, qualifying, delayed
Sunday: 8:30 p.m., championship eliminations, delayed
Friday: High 85 degrees; 20 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 77 degrees; 10 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 79 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Sept. 13-15 - zMAX Dragway, Charlotte, N.C.
Sept. 19-22 - Texas Motorplex, Dallas
Sept. 27-29 - Gateway Motorsports Park, St. Louis
Oct. 3-6 - Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.
Oct. 24-27 - Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
Nov. 7-10 - Auto Club Raceway, Pomona
(Reset for start of six-event playoff that starts Sept. 13 near Charlotte; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Shawn Langdon, 2,110
2. SPENCER MASSEY, 2,080
3. TONY SCHUMACHER, 2,070
4. Doug Kalitta, 2,060
5. Khalid alBalooshi, 2,050
6. ANTRON BROWN, 2,040
7. Clay Millican, 2,030
8. Morgan Lucas, 2,020
9. Steve Torrence, 2,010
10. Bob Vandergriff, 2,000
1. MATT HAGAN, 2,110
2. RON CAPPS , 2,080
3. JOHNNY GRAY, 2,070
4. John Force, 2,060
5. JACK BECKMAN, 2,050
6. Cruz Pedregon, 2,040
7. Courtney Force, 2,030
8. Tim Wilkerson, 2,020
9. Robert Hight, 2,010
10. Del Worsham, 2,000
NHRA MELLO YELLO SERIES REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS
(Final regular season after 18 events through U.S. Nationals; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Shawn Langdon, 1,488
2. SPENCER MASSEY, 1,273
3. TONY SCHUMACHER, 1,238
4. Doug Kalitta, 1,086
5. Khalid alBalooshi, 1,074
6. ANTRON BROWN, 1,035
7. Clay Millican, 979
8. Morgan Lucas, 968
9. Steve Torrence, 893
10. Bob Vandergriff, 821
2013 TOP FUEL WINNERS: Langdon, SCHUMACHER, BROWN, SCHUMACHER, MASSEY, Vandergriff, BROWN, Langdon, Langdon, Steve Torrence, MASSEY, SCHUMACHER, alBalooshi, MASSEY, Langdon, Lucas, MASSEY, Langdon.
1. MATT HAGAN, 1,297
2. RON CAPPS , 1,183
3. JOHNNY GRAY, 1,125
4. John Force, 1,155
5. JACK BECKMAN, 1,110
6. Cruz Pedregon, 1,099
7. Courtney Force, 1,071
8. Tim Wilkerson, 1,023
9. Robert Hight, 1,015
10. Del Worsham, 948
2013 FUNNY CAR WINNERS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN, CAPPS, Hight.