MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 30, 2012) – Jack Beckman has been saying for the past month his only chance to win a first NHRA professional championship this year would be for his Valvoline NextGen Funny Car team to win a lot of rounds and for Don Schumacher Racing teammate and points leader Ron Capps to lose early.
Well, Beckman got both wishes answered Sunday when he won his 15th career Funny Car title in the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis, and Capps lost in the second round of eliminations.
Beckman started the weekend trailing Capps by 96 points but cut deeply into the gap and will be 30 points behind Capps when the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series competes next weekend at Reading, Pa.
“It’s nice to know that we have a car that can challenge for the championship,” said Beckman, who beat Alexis DeJoria, Jeff Arend and Tony Pedregon to advance to the final round.
“This wasn’t do-or-die, but it’s getting pretty close”
A week ago at the Full Throttle event near Dallas, Capps eliminated Beckman by 0.004 seconds.
“Losing to Capps by four-thousandths in Dallas hurt a lot, but today went a long way towards healing that. It’s awesome to know that we have three races to go and are only 30 points back. All we want is a fighting chance going into Pomona."
The healing began on Friday when Beckman posted a 4.049-second run to win the team its third pole of the year and set a Gateway record. The Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T has qualified in the top-3 over the past seven events under the guidance of crew chief Todd Smith and assistant Terry Snyder.
In the championship round, Beckman, who has won three titles this year, faced reigning Funny Car world champion and teammate Matt Hagan who did not qualify for the Countdown or win a race this season. Beckman caught a break when Hagan left too early and drew a redlight foul, and the Valvoline car powered to a 4.132-second run at 306.53 mph.
“From my perspective, you’re ready to go up there and squeeze the trigger if anything happens,” Beckman said. “I heard noise, saw the red light come on, and saw the big DieHard logo from Matt’s car. We have a big respect for that car. Over the last four races, it might be the best-running car on average.”
Or it might be Beckman’s Valvoline Dodge.
The following are DSR results from the NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis:
Event winner: Jack Beckman (DSR)
No. 1 qualifier: Beckman 4.049 sec., 308.85 mph
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 1
Round 1: BECKMAN (4.127 sec., 306.12 mph) def. Alexis DeJoria (4.233, 294.37)
Round 2: BECKMAN (4.093, 306.95) def. Jeff Arend (broke)
Semifinals: BECKMAN (4.093, 302.35) def. Tony Pedregon (5.957, 134.52)
Final: BECKMAN (4.132, 306.53) def. Matt Hagan (DQ, redlight)
Session 1: 4.153 sec., 279.90 mph
Session 2: 4.049, 308.85
Session 3: 4.176, 299.13
Session 4: 4.129, 304.80
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
After third of six events in the Countdown to the Championship
(Unofficial through Sept. 30, 2012; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS 2,361
2. JACK BECKMAN 2,331
3. Mike Neff 2,262
4. Cruz Pedregon 2,202
5. Tim Wilkerson 2,197
6. Courtney Force 2,180
7. Robert Hight 2,179
8. JOHNNY GRAY 2,149
9. Jeff Arend 2,148
10. John Force 2,143
11. MATT HAGAN, 1,018
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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 195 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
- DSR -
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