2013 NHRA: Jack Beckman NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Event Preview
Jack Beckman expected it would be a battle this year to defend his 2012 NHRA Funny Car world championship.
What he didn't expect was that he'd enter the 23rd of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events without having won an event title at the first 22.
"It's certainly not because we haven't been competitive," he said. "We have had a good year."
Beckman along with crew chief Todd Smith, assistant Terry Snyder and the Valvoline MaxLife/MTS Dodge Charger R/T team this year have won the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout all-star event and advanced to the championship round three times, semifinals six times and earned two No. 1 qualifier positions.
"We challenged basically all year long, we just haven't closed the deal when we really needed to."
He knows he needs to close it at least once over the last two events including this weekend's NHRA Toyota Nationals that begins Friday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Beckman will start the three-day event ranked third in points but trails 15-time champion and leader John Force by 126 and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan by 61.
"Force has found some magic and made us all look silly the last couple events," Beckman said of Force winning the last two titles to pass Hagan for the lead at the last event.
Heading into this weekend's penultimate event, no Funny Car driver has won a championship trailing the leader by more than 69 points with two races left; Cruz Pedregon trailed by 69 points in 2008 when he rallied to win the championship in the last two events.
The most points a driver can earn at either of the last two events is 150 and that would include a 20-point bonus for setting an NHRA national elapsed time record.
"We're in a position that if we are going to win the championship we have to win the next two races and John would have to do terrible at the next two, and with Nitro Funny Cars anything and everything is possible. Things like that happen.
"If we win the next two races and qualify better than John and John doesn't win more than two rounds over the last two races then we could pass him. It's doable, but there is a very slim chance because he would have to stumble significantly.
"We're in a unique position because we really don't care about the points, we really just want a trophy. We just want to win a race or two."
BECKMAN TO ATTEND LAS VEGAS PREMIERE OF 'SNAKE & MONGOO$E'
Beckman will be a special guest at the showing of the new movie "SNAKE & MONGOO$E" at 7:40 p.m. Saturday at Century Orleans 18 in the Orleans Hotel and Casino just west of the Strip on Tropicana Avenue.
The feature film chronicles the 1960s competition between rival Funny Car pioneers Don "Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "Mongoose" McEwen.
Beckman will join his six DSR teammates at a free autograph session from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday in the lobby of New York-New York Hotel & Casino on The Strip near the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.
New York-New York is DSR's official Las Vegas hotel-resort.
JACK BECKMAN, Valvoline MaxLife/MTS Dodge Charger R/T
Last event (Oct. 4-6, Reading, Pa.): Qualified No. 3; lost in first round to Alexis DeJoria.
Last race at Las Vegas (April 5-7, 2013): Qualified No. 3; lost in second round to teammate Matt Hagan.
Last October at Las Vegas: Qualified No. 7; lost in championship round to teammate Ron Capps.
October totals at Las Vegas: Wins 1 (2006); Runner-ups 2 (2012, 2009); Poles 0
April totals at Las Vegas: Wins 0; Runner-ups 0; Poles 0
Career totals for Las Vegas: Wins 1; Runner-ups 2; Poles 0
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2013 3rd 22 0 3 6 8 5 1 0 29-22
Career 178 15 19 34 51 53 11 6 235-157
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(DSR drivers in CAPS)
Driver, points (wins), behind
1. John Force, 2,457 (3), --
2. MATT HAGAN, 2,392 (4), -65
3. JACK BECKMAN, 2,331 (0), -126
4. Robert Hight, 2,323 (2), -134
5. Cruz Pedregon, 2,307 (4), -150
6. RON CAPPS, 2,297 (3) -160
7. Courtney Force, 2,266 (2), -191
8. JOHNNY GRAY, 2,223 (4), -234
9. Del Worsham, 2,214 (0), -243
10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,175 (0), -282
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), J. Force (St. Louis), J. Force (Reading).
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE/RESULTS
Sept. 13-15 zMAX Dragway, Concord, N.C.
(Finals: TF - Lucas def. MASSEY; FC - Hight def. HAGAN)
Sept. 19-22 Texas Motorplex, Dallas
(Finals: TF - Kalitta def. Langdon; FC- C. Pedregon def. J. Force)
Sept. 27-29 Gateway Motorsports Park, St. Louis
(Finals: TF - BROWN def. alBalooshi; FC - J. Force def. BECKMAN)
Oct. 3-6 Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.
(Finals: TF - Langdon def. BROWN; FC - J. Force def. Chad Head)
Oct. 24-27 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
Nov. 7-10 Auto Club Raceway, Pomona, Calif.
NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS SCHEDULE (times are PDT)
Thursday: 6-8 p.m., DSR autograph session New York New York lobby
Friday: 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
ON ESPN2 (times are ET)
Saturday: qualifying, TBD
Sunday: eliminations, 8 p.m. Sunday (delayed)
Friday: High 82 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday: 26: High 80 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 79 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain