MORRISON, Colo. (July 20, 2012) – Jack Beckman and crew chief Todd Smith are proving to be a highly successful duo on the dragstrip, even the track most challenging on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing circuit.
After being paired together at Don Schumacher Racing after the season’s fourth event of the season, they have proven to be a legitimate threat to challenge for the Funny Car world championship this year in their Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T.
The team arrived at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in the Rocky Mountains outside of Denver ranked fourth in points with one event title.
They will start Sunday’s championship eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier at the track where thin air in the high altitude makes the most veteran crew chief scratch his head.
Smith, a veteran of the nitro ranks, had never had the primary responsibility for getting engines in a Funny Car to happily produce horsepower on a diet of thin air.
“Todd had never run a Funny Car on the mountain, but he is a very smart man and very calm,” Beckman said.
“He also has Terry Snyder as his assistant and they work it like a partnership. The best crew chief and assistant crew chief tandems start thinking alike; it’s the unspoken stuff.
“Terry had notes from when he’s been up here with a Funny Car before. Before our best run on Friday Terry made a last-minute call to Todd on the (two-way) radio for a tire pressure change based on the starting-line temperature. There’s too much information for one guy to handle.
“Having Todd work with Terry and Terry giving good input is a big part of what is making this team special.”
Beckman drove the Valvoline NextGen Dodge to a best run of 4.131 seconds at 304.05 mph Friday during the event’s only night session. No team came close to matching that effort on Saturday when both sessions were held under sunny skies and temperatures to the mid-90s.
“I really didn’t think anyone including us would be able to run that quick in the heat,” said Beckman, who earned only the fifth No. 1 qualifying position of his pro career that spans 146 NHRA events.
“The conditions didn’t let guys swing for that number, and that was cool,” he said. “I’m so happy we are the No. 1 qualifier because of those nine guys over there on our team who have been sweating their butts off for two days making this happen. That was a bonus for them.”
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 1
First round opponent: Todd Simpson
Session 1: 4.256 sec., 292.65 mph
Session 2: 4.131, 304.05
Session 3: 4.378, 248.84
Session 4: 4.343, 282.84
DENVER NITRO SCHEDULE
SUNDAY: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
SUNDAY: 7-10 p.m. (ET), delayed
Sunday: High 90s; 30 percent chance of rain
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