BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 2, 2017) - There isn't much Jack Beckman doesn't remember about the history of professional drag racing or his career. But there is one moment he'd like to forget and there will be reminders when he returns to Pacific Raceways near Seattle this weekend.
A year ago in the Northwest Nationals, he recorded one of the very few redlight disqualifications in eliminations since he began racing.
"It's bitterly disappointing," the 2012 NHRA Funny Car world champion said after that second-round loss. "There's no excuse, there's no way to spin it. I absolutely made a mistake up there. But it doesn't matter. Our job is to react when the tree comes on."
On Sunday at Sonoma, Calif., in the second event of the three-week Western Swing, he did his job at the starting line in the semifinals and left with a substantial lead over eventual Sonoma winner J.R. Todd, who instantly smoked the tires off the line.
Beckman and Terry Chandler's Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Dodge Charger R/T built a seemingly unbeatable lead a few hundred feet from the finish line, but an engine problem led to a safety system shutting off the engine. Meanwhile, Todd had quickly recovered and edged the coasting Beckman to advance.
"Our car just quit running at 200 feet," Beckman said. "I was dead in the water and we were coasting. It's a helpless feeling to know that that car's coming up on you and going 150 miles an hour faster than you're going. You're hoping you're going to get to the finish line first, and we weren't able to do it."
Despite the disappointment at Sonoma, Beckman and his Don Schumacher Racing team were able to move up one spot to third in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and only 44 points out of second. Three events remain in the 18-race regular season after which only the top-10 in points will be able to compete for the world title in the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff that begins after Labor Day.
Beckman has been impressed how his virtually new team has been able to climb that high in the standings and win two event titles this year despite starting the season with only one crewmember remaining with the team, veteran crew chief John Medlen. The Infinite Hero team has done well with three crew chiefs consisting of veteran and DSR newcomer Dean Antonelli and rookie crew chief Neal Strausbaugh, formerly assistant with the U.S. Army team, joining Medlen.
Beckman expects continued improvement this weekend at Seattle where he has advanced to three final rounds and won titles in 2007 and 2015.
JACK BY THE NUMBERS FOR SEATTLE
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 3rd 15 2 2 3 6 2 0 0 25-13
CAREER 267 26 27 48 79 80 21 7 357-234
Career best time, speed: 3.825 sec., (2016 Pomona 2); 334.15 mph (Seattle 2016)
SEATTLE BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (July 30), Sonoma, Calif.: Qualified No. 3, lost in semifinals to J.R. Todd
A year ago at Seattle: Qualified No. 4, lost in second round to Matt Hagan
Career at Seattle: Wins 2 (2007, 2015); Runner-ups 1 (2011); Poles 2 (2013, 2015)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Sonoma; 15 of 24 events: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,276 -----
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,093 -183
3. JACK BECKMAN (2) 1,049 -227
4. Robert Hight (1) 1,035 -241
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 982 -294
6. Courtney Force 874 -402
7. John Force (1) 821 -455
8. Tim Wilkerson 727 -549
9. J.R. Todd (1) 724 -552
10. Cruz Pedregon 570 -706