BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 26, 2012) ¬– Jack Beckman and the Valvoline NextGen team are preparing to read a book with some empty pages this weekend when the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
For the first time since 2010, the NHRA series will hold a professional NHRA event at the track. That brings a lot of unknowns for crew chief Todd Smith, who calls the shots on Beckman’s Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
“It’s kind of an unknown at this point,” said Smith. “The track has been sitting for a year. It’s sort of like an open book. We just have to go take a look at it and see what we’ve got.”
Smith and the six other Don Schumacher Racing teams will rely on DSR’s track specialist Tommy Johnson Jr. to evaluate the track before qualifying begins on Friday.
“TJ will be there early to get a preliminary look at it and see what’s there and what’s been done,” Smith said.
He will also have a watchful eye on the cars that go down the track prior to DSR entries during Friday’s first of two sessions.
“We’ll go up there with several different scenarios and watch the cars in front of us and make a decision based on those that run before us and plug something in basically last minute and get it down the track,” Smith said.
Beckman knows the challenges that lie ahead but also has the confidence in his crew, who enter the event third in Countdown to the Championship standings, trailing DSR teammate Ron Capps by 97 points.
“Even though crew chiefs have data from that track, it was run at a different time of year and we don’t know what to expect from the racing surface and our tune-up books have changed a little bit since then,” said Beckman, who has two titles this year.
“Todd and Terry (Snyder, assistant crew chief) are just going to have to find similar conditions at another track from this year to try to plug in numbers for the first couple of runs until we know what it can hold.”
Although there are some unknowns, Beckman is ready to strap into his 8,000-horsepower machine.
“I’m excited to go back to St. Louis,” Beckman said. “St. Louis has never been a Countdown race, so that adds some drama.
“Typically this event was held in the summertime. This time it’s going to be cooler conditions so everything is lining up to make it a really successful race weekend.”
The following are Beckman’s statistics and other notes for this weekend’s return to Gateway Motorsports Park.
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
2011 at St. Louis: No event
2010 at St. Louis: Qualified No. 3; lost in championship round to Robert Hight
Career at St. Louis: Wins 0, Runner-ups 1 (2010), Poles 0
2012 Pts Races Wins Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
3rd 19 2 0 2 1 27-16
Career 152 14 15 6 6 195-132
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
(After second of six events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS, 2,307
2. Mike Neff, 2,211
3. JACK BECKMAN, 2,210
4. Cruz Pedregon, 2,167
5. Robert Hight, 2,144
6. Courtney Force, 2,140
7. Tim Wilkerson, 2,123
8. JOHNNY GRAY, 2,113
9. John Force, 2,104
10. Jeff Arend, 2,095
11. MATT HAGAN, 978
NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS EVENT SCHEDULE (All times CT):
Friday: 4, 6:30 p.m., qualifying
Saturday: 12:30, 3 p.m. qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., eliminations
ESPN2 SCHEDULE (All times ET, subject to change):
Sunday: 2:30 a.m., 1 p.m.., qualifying
Sunday: 8-11 p.m. ET, eliminations
Friday: high 74, 10 percent chance of rain
Saturday: high 74, 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: high 78, 0 percent chance of rain
UPCOMING FULL THROTTLE EVENTS
Oct. 4-7, NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa. (Philadelphia area)
Oct. 25-28, Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas
Nov. 8-11, Auto Club of Southern California Finals, Pomona, Calif. (finale)
Valvoline, a brand of Ashland Inc., has been serving American motorists longer than any other motor oil. The Valvoline family of products includes Eagle One™ appearance products, Car Brite™ car restoration products, Zerex™ antifreeze, SynPower™ performance products, MaxLife™ products created for higher-mileage engines and NextGen™ motor oil, created with 50 percent recycled oil.
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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 193 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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