Jack Beckman, driver of the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, reached the third round of today’s 24th annual NHRA Spring Nationals here at Royal Purple Raceway.
The 44-year-old Southern California native was disappointed about not achieving his second win (and second consecutive win) of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, but nevertheless saw positive results from his semifinal exit.
“We leave with two more round wins as well as some very valuable data on setups for hot-weather race tracks,” said the Don Schumacher Racing driver. “We need even more runs on hot tracks as we get to the warmer part of the schedule, but we are definitely making progress.
“It’s a testament to Rahn (Tobler, crew chief) and John’s (Collins, assistant crew chief) ability to handle conditions like we saw this weekend since we made it to the third round without having lane choice. On a track like this, in hot and very humid weather, lane choice should have been crucial. But we qualified in the bottom-half of the field and moved on without it.”
Beckman qualified ninth which immediately put him in the “underdog” position against Jim Head in the first round of eliminations. Obviously the Aaron’s “Lucky Dog” came through as he bested Head, posting a 4.237-second, 295.72-mile-per-hour lap against Head’s 4.756/193.16.
A quick reaction on the starting line produced a hole-shot victory in round two against top-qualifier John Force. Beckman moved from the tree in .065-seconds, while Force left in .086, which meant the DSR pilot’s 4.183/303.64 mph-pass was good enough to beat the reigning Funny Car champ’s quicker, but losing 4.177/303.03 effort.
“That hole-shot win was huge,” said Beckman. “It helped solidify our place in the points and moved us into the semifinals. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough for lane choice and Mike Neff was able to simply outrun us in the third round.”
Neff, who assumed the 2011 Funny Car points lead with his runner-up finish in today’s race, ran a 4.133/308.43-mph pass, quickest of the session, against Beckman’s 4.214/304.94.
“Yes, it was a good weekend,” he said. “But, of course, our goal is winning races, especially at this point of the season. Overall, I would give us a B+ for the weekend.”
Beckman now sits third in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings, trailing Neff and Robert Hight, in front of Cruz Pedregon, Jeff Arend and Matt Hagan.
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