BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 16, 2017) - Jack Beckman returned to his drag racing roots last weekend with a trip to near Boise, Idaho, to compete in NHRA Sportsman competition during the Nightfire Nationals at Firebird Raceway.
The 2003 NHRA Super Comp world champion drove Dick VanderMeer's 180-mph Top Dragster and realized to stay on top of the Sportsman game you had better race in it more than once a year.
"It was a great weekend even if I could have done better in Dick's dragster," said Beckman, who returns to his full-time job driving Terry and Doug Chandler's Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny for Don Schumacher Racing this weekend in the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in North Minnesota.
He spent several days in Idaho with his family but is eager to get back to work when qualifying begins Friday at Brainerd, where he has advanced to two final rounds, won three poles but has yet to add a Brainerd Wally Trophy to his collection of 26.
Brainerd marks the 17th of 18 events in the Mello Yello regular season, and after this weekend only the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals two weeks later near Indianapolis over Labor Day Weekend left before points are reset to begin the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff for the top-10 drivers who qualify to contend for the world title. The regular-season points leader will have a 30-point lead over No. 2 and others will be separated at 10-point increments to open the Countdown at Charlotte.
Beckman and his Dodge Charger R/T team led by crew chiefs Dean Antonelli, John Medlen and Neal Strausbaugh will start the Brainerd race ranked fourth in Mello Yello points. Beckman is 68 points out of second place but only 23 ahead fifth-ranked DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr..
"We dropped from third to fourth after the last race (two weeks ago at Seattle), and a couple drivers behind us close to catching us," Beckman said. "We can get up to second before the Countdown.
"This is the time of the year when teams contending for the championship are going to raise their hands and notify everyone else of what they can do. We'll be smart and keep picking away at stuff at Brainerd."
BY THE NUMBERS FOR DSR AT BRAINERD
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 4th 16 2 2 3 7 2 0 0 26-14
CAREER 268 26 27 48 80 80 21 7 358-235
Career best time, speed: 3.825 sec., (2016 Pomona 2); 334.15 mph (Seattle 2016)
Last event (Aug. 6), Seattle: Qualified No. 5, lost in second round to Courtney Force
A year ago at Brainerd: Qualified No. 4, lost in second round to DSR teammate Ron Capps
Career at Brainerd: Wins 0, Runner-ups 2 (2008, 2010), Poles 3 (2012, 2013, 2012)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Seattle; 16 of 24 events: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,330 -----
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,172 -158
3. Robert Hight (2) 1,164 -166
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 1,104 -226
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 1,081 -249
6. Courtney Force 951 -379
7. John Force (1) 877 -453
8. Tim Wilkerson 759 -571
9. J.R. Todd (1) 756 -574
10. Cruz Pedregon 601 -729