BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 9, 2012) - Jack Beckman had the best seat at Lucas Oil Raceway on Sunday when Todd Lesenko blew up his Funny Car for the second straight day of the NHRA U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis.
Unfortunately for Beckman, he had a bird's eye view because a $5 air-line fitting broke on his Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T that caused his car to lose traction and then prevented him from being able to recover quickly enough to catch the fireball.
"We lost because of the proverbial $5 parts failure," Beckman said, explaining the fitting led to an air leak that adversely affected the system that controls various onboard systems including clutch management.
"I pedaled (the throttle) when it started to lose traction but it didn't respond because the clutch management system didn't have the air to control it."
Compounding the part failure, Leskenko was ahead when his car exploded and it appeared Lesenko might veer into Beckman's lane.
"I didn't want to run into Todd if his car moved over so I didn't get back on it until I saw he was staying in his lane," Beckman said. "Then I figured I could nudge into the throttle and get the win. But as soon as I got back in throttle it popped the supercharger because (the engine) was full of raw fuel from lack of the management system.
"It was just a snowball effect of things that went wrong. If any one of the things that went wrong didn't go wrong we could have gotten to the finish line first."
Lesenko's 5.243-second run at 126.34 mph beat Beckman's 5.822 (123.56).
The frustration of the early end to the day was compounded because Beckman's Dodge tuned by crew chief Todd Smith and assistant Terry Snyder qualified second for the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series' most prestigious race of the season that took two weekends to complete after rain washed out racing on Sept. 2-3.
"It's aggravating because it wasn't a tune-up error or a mistake someone made, it was just a simple part figure.
"We had a car fully capable of winning the U.S. Nationals."
Beckman and the Valvoline NextGen team can be consoled that the team will start the Countdown to the Championship ranked third when the NHRA playoff begins next week at zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway at Concord, N.C.
(See below for details on the Countdown.)
The following are Beckman's results from the U.S. Nationals and other notes:
Event winner: Mike Neff (John Force Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 4.049, 317.27
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 2
1st round: Todd Lesenko (5.243 sec., 126.34 mph) def. BECKMAN (5.822, 123.56)
FRIDAY (Aug. 31) QUALIFYING
Session 1: 4.051 sec., 302.62 mph
SATURDAY (Sept. 1) QUALIFYING
Session 2: 4.056, 310.70
Session 3: 5.799, 117.56
SATURDAY (Sept. 8) QUALIFYING
Session 4: 8.116, 73.73
Session 5: 4.063, 310.55
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
The fields are set for each of the four Full Throttle professional categories heading to the six-event Countdown to the Championship.
The points will be reset at 10-point increments for Countdown contestants and each points leaders after Indy, which was the 17th event of the year, gets a 20-point bonus so they will start the Countdown with 30-point leads in Top Fuel (Antron Brown), Funny Car (Ron Capps), Pro Stock (Allen Johnson) and Pro Stock Motorcycle Eddie Krawiec).
Only the top-10 drivers can contend for season championships but all drivers entered in the last six events will contend with Countdown drivers for event points and titles. The best season finish for non-Countdown driver can be 11th.
SIX IN A ROW
Postponing the U.S. Nationals by one week means the Full Throttle series will now race on five consecutive weekends beginning next weekend with the first race in the Countdown at zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway at Concord, N.C.
Factoring in last week's rainout it actually means teams will have competed six straight weekends.
NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Sept. 9, 2012, U.S. Nationals; DSR in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS, 1,268
2. Robert Hight, 1,230
3. JACK BECKMAN, 1,113
4. Mike Neff, 1,100
5. JOHNNY GRAY, 1,073
6. Courtney Force, 948
7. Cruz Pedregon, 893
8. John Force, 875
9. Jeff Arend, 838
10. Tim Wilkerson, 829
11. Matt Hagan 822
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
(Points reset for 6-event Countdown; DSR IN CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS, 2,110 (includes 20-point bonus for leading regular season standings)
2. Robert Hight, 2,080
3. JACK BECKMAN, 2,070
4. Mike Neff, 2,060
5. JOHNNY GRAY, 2,050
6. Courtney Force, 2,040
7. Cruz Pedregon, 2,030
8. John Force, 2,020
9. Jeff Arend, 2,010
10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,000
Sept. 14-16, zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., consists of seven professional NHRA teams: in Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the FRAM/Prestone dragster of Spencer Massey and the Matco Tools dragster of Antron Brown; and in Funny Car, 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in the Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, Valvoline NextGen Dodge piloted by Jack Beckman, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Service Central Dodge of Johnny Gray. DSR has won 191 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
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