MORRISON, Colo. (July 22, 2012) – Jack Beckman finished second for the NHRA Funny Car world championship last season, but after four races this year not many of his fans believed he would challenge for the prestigious crown this year.
Don Schumacher, owner of the biggest team in professional racing, decided to juggle his crew chief lineup and left Beckman with a newcomer to the organization to lead his team.
But Todd Smith, a proven nitro crew chief, has melded perfectly with Terry Snyder, the team’s assistant crew chief, and the loquacious Beckman.
Their Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T made a profound statement this weekend when the team was the No. 1 qualifier and won the event title Sunday in the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in the Rocky Mountains near Denver.
It is the second NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event title since the team was realigned and the Valvoline Dodge is within one point of third place in the standings after 13 of 23-races on the Full Throttle tour.
“On any given day anybody can win,” Beckman said of his team’s victory in the season’s eighth race at Topeka, Kan. “We had a pretty good car at Topeka and didn’t back into that one.
“But to win two in Nitro Funny Car in any one season is pretty tough to do. But to do it just past midway through the season should put a stamp on it that this team is going to contend the rest of the year.
“It was a special day for our team. The guys on our crew worked so hard this weekend, and it was very special that we could win the title at an event sponsored by Mopar and help celebrate its 75th anniversary.”
Don Schumacher Racing swept the nitro categories for the second time in 13 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing events this season when Antron Brown won in Top Fuel to join Beckman in the winner’s circle, a repeat of Atlanta last season.
Beckman’s Dodge was the quickest in each of his four elimination round wins, but two opponents were eliminated when they fouled out with redlight starts, including John Force in the semifinals.
“I’d like to think we forced some of the other cars to try something extra to beat us,” said Beckman, who has won 14 NHRA pro titles in his career.
“We weren’t perfect today. We dropped a cylinder in the semifinals. But at the end of the day we took a car that qualified No. 1 and made it down the track four times.”
He also wasn’t concerned about being the first man to lose a championship round to rookie Courtney Force, who he beat for the title with a run of 4.277 seconds at 293.79 mph to her 4.289 (283.49).
“You can think about stuff like that and it will drive you crazy. You have to put everything out of our head, go up there and own the tree and control the racecar.
“Courtney is going to get her first one soon, and I don’t care if I’m the guy she beats because that would mean we made it to another final.”
And the way this team is going it certainly will be in more championship rounds.
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 1
1st round: BECKMAN (4.270 sec., 293.41 mph) def. Todd Simpson (redlight, 7.184, 101.02)
2nd round: BECKMAN (4.358, 286.80) def. Jeff Arend (4.474, 250.09)
Semifinals: BECKMAN (4.384, 280.25) def. John Force (redlight, 4.402, 289.07)
Final: BECKMAN (4.277, 293.79) def. Courtney Force (4.289, 283.49)
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
NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(unofficial through July 22; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Robert Hight, 1,060
2. RON CAPPS, 994
3. Mike Neff, 863
4. JACK BECKMAN, 862
5. JOHNNY GRAY, 766
6. Courtney Force, 701
7. Cruz Pedregon, 680
8. Jeff Arend, 661
9. Bob Tasca III, 654
10. John Force, 643
11. Tim Wilkerson, 573
12. Alexis DeJoria, 494
13. MATT HAGAN, 491
The DSR convoy of nearly 20 trucks heads west this week for the Sonoma NHRA Nationals in Northern California. Then the following weekend heads north to Seattle for the third stop on the grueling Western Swing.
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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 187 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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