2013 NHRA: Jack Beckman AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals Event Preview
There is no better time than this weekend for history to repeat itself for Jack Beckman and the Valvoline MaxLife/MTS Funny Car team.
The Don Schumacher Racing team is headed to St. Louis for the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park where its march to the 2012 NHRA Funny Car world championship picked up a torrid pace.
A year ago at Gateway, Beckman with crew chief Todd Smith and assistant Terry Snyder earned the No. 1 qualifying spot and went on to win the event title. A week later, they went to Maple Grove Raceway at Reading, Pa., and earned a 20-point bonus for setting the NHRA elapsed time record en route to winning another pole and event title.
When they arrived at Gateway last year, the team was third in points and when they left were second before taking the championship lead after Reading. It was a lead they never relinquished.
Despite a semifinal finish Sunday at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas, Beckman dropped one spot to fifth in the standings but more importantly knocked 20 points off what he trails DSR teammate and points leader Matt Hagan.
"I don't care where we are in the standings, I just care where we are in points relative to first place," Beckman said. "That's what we're racing for; we're not racing for second or third."
Texas was Beckman's second semifinals finish in two Countdown events.
The 76-point gap remains substantial.
"The points can change rapidly, and it's bunched up again at the top.
"We can't afford to keep trading blows with Hagan and the cars near the top. We have to close the gap, which means we have to consistently outlast them. We've had a good start to the Countdown but four (round) wins in two events isn't going to be enough."
Each round win is worth 20 points, and Beckman believes he will need a total of 15 in the 24 Countdown rounds.
"It will probably take us a total of 15 round wins and that means we'll need at least one (event) win."
Beckman and the Valvoline/MTS team took a big step toward keeping their hopes of defending their championship alive when they eliminated Hagan in the second round of eliminations near Dallas last week. Beckman also beat Hagan in the final round at Gateway a year ago.
"That was a 40-point swing after we beat Hagan. It was unfortunate for us to have the door open for us and to not gain more points."
JACK BECKMAN, Valvoline MaxLife/MTS Dodge Charger R/T
Last event (Sept. 20-22, Ennis, Texas): Qualified No. 6; lost in semifinals to Cruz Pedregon.
A year ago at Gateway: Qualified No. 1; defeated teammate Matt Hagan in championship round.
Career at Gateway: Wins 1 (2012); runner-ups 1 (2010); poles 1 (2012).
Pts Races Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2013 5th 20 0 2 6 8 3 1 0 26-20
CAREER 176 15 18 34 51 52 11 6 232-155
Best Time, Speed
3.986 sec. ** (10-7-12, Reading, Pa.), 320.58 mph ** (10-5-12, Reading); ** NHRA record
(Times are CT)
Friday: 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
Sunday: 8:30 p.m. (ET), championship eliminations, delayed
(As of Tuesday afternoon)
Friday: High 81; 10 percent chance rain
Saturday: High 82; 20 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 71; 40 percent chance of rain
MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES
NHRA Countdown to the Championship Standings
(Through Sept. 22 near Dallas; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN 2,272 (---)
2. Cruz Pedregon 2,221 (-51)
3. Robert Hight 2,209 (-63)
4. John Force 2,208 (-64)
5. JACK BECKMAN 2,196 (-76)
6. RON CAPPS 2,170 (-102)
7. JOHNNY GRAY 2,155 (-117)
8. Courtney Force 2,141 (-131)
9. Tim Wilkerson 2,089 (-183)
10. Del Worsham 2,068 (-204)
2013 REGULAR SEASON 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.
2013 COUNTDOWN WINNERS: Hight (Charlotte), C. Pedregon (Dallas).
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
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
(Finals: TF/Doug Kalitta def. Shawn Langdon; FC/Cruz Pedregon def. John Force)
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