2014 NHRA: Jack Beckman NHRA Gatornationals Event Preview
Jack Beckman wouldn't mind if some karma flows his way after a special night on the eve of this weekend's 45th annual NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla.
The two-time NHRA world champion will induct friend and mentor, Frank Hawley, into Don Garlits' International Drag Racing Hall of Fame on Thursday night before heading to the track for Friday's first two qualifying sessions.
Gainesville is one of the tracks where Jack has yet to make a championship round with his Sandvik/Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T while Hawley won Funny Car titles there twice, in 1982 and 1983 when he also won the NHRA world championship.
Instead of focusing on his performance in the Gatornationals, on Thursday night at Gainesville's Paramount Plaza Hotel & Suites, Jack's only thoughts will be to share a special night with a special friend.
"I would consider that right at top of my career highlights list," he said of the induction. "It's awesome and well deserved for Frank. I was humbled when he asked me.
"My life took a positive direction when he hired me (in 1998) to be one the instructors at his Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School. He has been a big influence on not just my racing career but on how I look at things on a personal level.
"This is very personal for me because, not only is he a friend and mentor, but he's someone I've been around an incredible amount of time over the last 15 years."
After the special night, Jack is expecting a special weekend on the track at Gainesville.
In January, the only members of the Sandvik/Valvoline team were Jack and assistant crew chief Terry Snyder. After veteran Rob Flynn was hired as crew chief the team was filled out and it has progressed steadily.
"As far as our race team is going, we ran well at Pomona, and at Phoenix we really looked good with a consistently quick car," Jack said.
He qualified sixth at Phoenix and advanced to the quarterfinals.
"If I'm an odds maker I'm accelerating the time table for us to get our first race win of the year. We're further ahead of where I thought to be after Pomona."
JACK BECKMAN, Sandvik/Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 8th 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1-2
CAREER 182 15 19 35 52 55 10 6 238-161
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (10-7-12, Reading, Pa.); 320.58 (10-5-12, Reading)
BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (Feb. 21-23, Phoenix): Qualified No. 6; lost in quarterfinals to Robert Hight
A year ago at Gainesville: Qualified No. 11; lost in semifinals to Johnny Gray
Career at Gainesville: Wins 0; Runner-ups 0; Poles 0
NHRA MELLO YELLO FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Through Phoenix, second of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver, (wins), points
1. John Force, (1), 225
2. Robert Hight, (0), 159
3. Alexis DeJoria, (1), 156
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR., (0), 136
5. Del Worsham, (0), 132
6. MATT HAGAN, (0), 129
7. Bob Tasca III, (0), 124
8. JACK BECKMAN, (0), 92
9. RON CAPPS, (0), 88
10. Tim Wilkerson, (0), 84