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Aug 12, 2014 - 06:41 PM
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2014 NHRA: Jack Beckman NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Aug 12, 2014 - 06:40 PM
2014 NHRA: Jack Beckman NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Event Preview

Jack Beckman hopes a mix of something new and something old is what his Valvoline SynPower Dodge Charger R/T team needs to make a late charge that gets them into the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff.


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The team will take a new chassis to Brainerd, Minn., on Friday for the NHRA Nationals that is the next-to-last event of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season.

The old is the return of Todd Okuhara, Don Schumacher Racing's director of racing, to serve as Jack's crew chief after team owner Don Schumacher released Rob Flynn as the team's crew chief early this week in an attempt to move Jack from 11th in the Mello Yello standings into the top-10 and a spot in the Countdown.

Jack is 30 points outside the top-10 and needs a surge to advance to the six-race Countdown playoff and a chance of winning his second NHRA world championship in the past three seasons.

Okuhara was Jack's crew chief for his first two years and DSR and they combined to win three Mello Yello event titles in four championship rounds in 2006-07.

"Todd and I won a lot of races and it will be good to have him running our team," said Jack, who has won 15 Funny Car titles at DSR but has not won in nearly two years.

"I really like Rob and hate to see this happen for him, but it's what Don felt needed to be done for us to get it turned around and get into the Countdown. Our goal isn't just to sneak into the Countdown; we want to win both of these next races and get in higher than 10th in the standings.

"We'll get to Brainerd with new pipe (chassis) and a fresh perspective. We know we have the team that can pull this off."

Brainerd could be the track for Jack's season to turnaround. He started the last two events there as the No. 1 qualifier and was runner-up in 2010 and 2008.

He trails No. 10 Tim Wilkerson by 30 points in the standings and each round win on Sunday will be worth 20 points and he is only 109 points out of eighth place.

The last regular season event is two weeks after Brainerd with the U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis and the Countdown begins Sept. 12-14 near Charlotte.

Jack will make an appearance for Mello Yello at the Brainerd Wal-Mart SuperCenter (7295 Glory Rd, Baxter, Minn. 56425) on Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. to sign autographs for fans who can win tickets to the event at Brainerd International Raceway.

Jack Beckman, Valvoline SynPower Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Last event Seattle (Aug. 3): Qualified No. 12; lost in quarterfinals to Alexis DeJoria
A year ago at Brainerd: Qualified No. 1; lost in second round to Ron Capps
Career at Brainerd: Wins 0; Runner-ups 2 (2008, 2010); Poles 2 (2013, 2012)

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 11th 16 0 1 2 5 8 0 0 12-16
CAREER 196 15 20 37 56 62 10 6 249-175
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (10-6-12, Reading, Pa.); 320.30 mph (4-15-12, Charlotte 1)

(Official after 16 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS; * clinched spot in Countdown to the Championship)
driver (wins) points behind
1. *Robert Hight (5) 1,271 ----
2. *John Force (3) 1,224 -47
3. RON CAPPS (1) 989 -282
4. Courtney Force (2) 980 -291
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 975 -296
6. Alexis DeJoria (2) 961 -310
7. MATT HAGAN (1) 949 -322
8. Cruz Pedregon (1) 894 -377
9. Del Worsham 848 -423
10. Tim Wilkerson 815 -456
11. JACK BECKMAN 785 -486

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