COMMERCE, Ga. (May 6, 2012) - After not qualifying last weekend at Houston, Jack Beckman knew it was a longshot for his Valvoline NextGen Funny Car to repeat as event champion Sunday at Atlanta Dragway.
And despite losing in the first round of the NHRA Southern Nationals, Beckman was optimistic.
"Two weeks ago I would have been really disappointed with a first-round loss and after having my perspective-button reset when we didn't qualify last week at Houston, this is a first-round loss we can swallow.
"We're on our way back."
With new crew chief Todd Smith, who took over three weeks ago, the Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T made four solid qualifying runs and started the first round ranked eighth among 16 cars.
Even in the first-round loss to rookie Courtney Force, someone Beckman taught to drag race, he found solace. Force's 4.198-second run at 305.91 mph barely edge Beckman's 4.168 (305.01).
"People say it must be easier to lose to someone who you taught to drag race, and I say I wouldn't want my dad to beat me.
"She's got a bright future ahead of her. But it doesn't matter who's in the other lane. We get paid to win rounds, and we didn't get it done today. We're right back in a competitive Funny Car and we couldn't say that a week ago.
"We came up on the wrong end of a good drag race. Losing still isn't pleasant, but I feel like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Todd is getting a handle on the DSR tune-up program. They're making little adjustments to get us to the finish line and taking data and getting us a faster car in the future.
"We made five good, legitimate runs here and had a good lap today.
"Until we rolled into this track this chassis had not gotten down a track under full power on two straight runs in 17 tries.
"Every run was in the top eight of each qualifying session, and we have a competitive race car again.
"We can say that now."
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 8
Round 1: Courtney Force (4.138 sec., 309.42 mph) def. BECKMAN (4.168, 305.01)
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