2014 NHRA: Jack Beckman NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Preview
Jack Beckman knows when given an opportunity you must take advantage of it, especially in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
"You have to capitalize on opportunities," he said. "When you get to a track and immediately strike on a good tune-up, you're running good and you're the favorite - you have to win."
Jack and the Valvoline MaxLife Dodge Charger R/T team led by crew chief Rob Flynn were close to being the quickest two weeks ago at Englishtown, N.J., but certainly had the most consistent Funny Car through four qualifying runs and the first round of championship eliminations. The team produced runs between 4.017 and 4.085 seconds on its first five runs before Jack advanced to the semifinals by winning with a quicker reaction time at the starting line.
But in the semis, Jack's car almost instantly went up in smoke on a questionable track and lost to a very slow 4.593 seconds produced by eventual event winner Cruz Pedregon.
The week before at Topeka, Kan., Jack's day was ended when a $4 part broke at the starting line and again he lost to a sub-par 4.5-second time.
"(ESPN2 analyst) Mike Dunn said at Englishtown that we had the best car going into eliminations. We were the car to beat there but the starting line beat us.
"You can't afford to have a parts failure or a starting line issue cost you. But that's what keeps nitro racing interesting. At 10,000 horsepower, even if you're the underdog you go to the line optimistic because stuff happens."
When racing begins at Bristol, Tenn., on Friday, Jack will be at one of his favorite tracks and one where he will be seeking to earn his first NHRA Wally trophy.
"I love Bristol for two reasons: One, there's only one Bristol and one Thunder Valley. You have to be there to hear 10,000 horsepower echo off the mountains, and television can't capture that.
"And I love Bristol because I believe we have some momentum and it starts the first of four races in a row and seven over the next eight weekends.
"By the time we get done with that stretch it is going to separate who is going to be near the top and who is going to be fighting for one of the last 10 spots in the Countdown to the Championship."
FOUR STRAIGHT: This weekend, Bristol, Tenn.; June 19-22, Epping, N.H.; June 26-29, Chicago; July 3-6, Norwalk, Ohio.
JACK BECKMAN: Valvoline MaxLife Dodge Charger R/T
Last event Englishtown, N.J. (June 1): Qualified No. 5; lost in semifinals to Cruz Pedregon
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 2; lost in first round to Blake Alexander
Career at Bristol: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2011); Poles 0
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 9th 9 0 1 1 3 4 0 0 8-9
CAREER 193 15 20 36 55 58 10 6 245-168
Best Time, Speed: 3.736 sec. (10-6-12, Reading, Pa.); 320.30 mph (4-15-12, Charlotte 1)
NHRA MELLO YELLO FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(after nine of 24 events)
driver (wins), points points behind
1. Robert Hight, (4), 847 ----
2. John Force, (1), 601 -246
3. Alexis DeJoria, (2), 564 -283
4. Del Worsham, 535 -312
5. RON CAPPS, 534 -313
6. Courtney Force (1), 527 -320
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR., 508 -339
8. Cruz Pedregon (1), 506 -341
9. JACK BECKMAN, 480 -367
10. MATT HAGAN, 454 -393