2013 NHRA: Jack Beckman AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals Qualifying Report: No. 6
Jack Beckman really isn't a drama queen but it sure looks like it sometimes.
The last thing that Beckman's MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors/Valvoline Funny Car team and others in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series want is to lose Friday's two qualifying sessions, but that's what happened to start this weekend's AAA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas.
And making matters worse was when Beckman went out on Saturday's first run and struggled to a time of 4.471 seconds at a slowing 196.10 mph. That left the reigning world champions ranked 11th for Sunday's 16-car championship eliminations.
But by the time Beckman and his Dodge Charger R/T went to the starting line for his last try at qualifying, he was ranked 20th among 20 teams.
But crew chief Todd Smith and assistant Terry Snyder were able to produce a solid race car that ran a time of 4.122 seconds (306.12) that will have them seeded sixth for the opening round, which begins at 11 a.m. (CT).
"You have to do everything the right way. It's so much pressure and potential stress when you go up there on the last run and aren't qualified," Beckman said. "That's why when it rains out qualifying on Friday it's nail-biting time for everybody. The crew chief bites his nails until the car leaves the starting line, and the driver starts biting his nails after it leaves the starting line.
"By the time we get back to the pits, Todd, Terry and I don't have any fingernails or hair."
Fortunately, Beckman could only bite his fire-retardant gloves and all three will return Sunday with full heads of hair.
"When I was in the staging lanes all I did was think about everything that could happen on that last run and how I'd react to it," said Beckman, who is looking for his first title of the season and first at the Texas Motorplex.
"The bump spot (No. 16) was like a 4.40 and you know if the car starts to lose traction you can pedal (the throttle) and try to get it to recover. If that time was like a 4.10 there's nothing you can do if it starts to smoke the tires.
"Fortunately I didn't have to worry about it. Todd and Terry put a great tune-up in our Dodge and the guys were flawless in getting it ready."
Beckman will start Sunday ranked fourth in the second of six events in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff, and trails Don Schumacher Racing teammate and points leader Matt Hagan by 96 points.
The following are qualifying summaries for Beckman and event notes:
No. 1 Qualifier: Robert Hight (John Force Racing) 4.052 sec., 311.85 mph
JACK BECKMAN, MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors/Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 6
First-round opponent: Alexis DeJoria
Both sessions rained out
Session 1: 4.471 sec., 196.10 mph
Session 2: 4.122, 306.12
MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES
NHRA Countdown to the Championship Standings
(Official through Sept. 21 near Dallas; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN 2,232 (---)
2. RON CAPPS 2,150 (-82)
3. Robert Hight 2,149 (-83)
4. JACK BECKMAN 2,136 (-96)
5. John Force 2,128 (-104)
6. Courtney Force 2,121 (-111)
7. Cruz Pedregon 2,121 (-111)
8. JOHNNY GRAY 2,115 (-117)
9. Tim Wilkerson 2,069 (-163)
10. Del Worsham 2,048 (-182)
2013 REGULAR SEASONS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN, CAPPS, Hight.
2013 COUNTDOWN WINNERS: Hight (Charlotte).
Sunday: 11 a.m. (CT), championship eliminations
Sunday: 8:30 p.m. (ET), championship eliminations, delayed
Sunday: High 83; 10 percent chance of rain
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Sept. 13-15 -Charlotte, N.C. (Finals: TF/Morgan Lucas def. SPENCER MASSEY; FC/Robert Hight def. MATT HAGAN)
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