BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 29, 2017) - Jack Beckman would prefer NHRA didn't enhance points values this weekend for the NHRA U.S., Nationals near Indianapolis for the biggest event of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Points awarded for each round win during Monday's championship eliminations will be worth 30 points instead of the customary 20.
"I'm not in favor of the making the points one-and-a-half times the value that they usually are, but I understand they want to create more drama for fans," said Beckman, who won the Funny Car title at Indy in 2015 for Don Schumacher Racing in Terry and Doug Chandler's Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T.
"Points should be absolute like they are in football and baseball: points and runs don't change all year. Let's not change our sport."
But the veteran driver, who also owns three all-star shootout titles at Indy, acknowledges when it comes to the 63rd annual "Big Go" points do not matter.
"Even without any points, you'd still do everything you could to win Indy," he said, "The proof is how many teams were at Indy to test for two days last week. These teams could have used a break and we didn't need to tear up any more parts. But we were there flogging our stuff making seven or eight runs to get ready for Indy.
"They could not offer any points at Indy and it would still be Indy. And we'd all still be there."
Beckman called his team's test last week one of the five best of his career. "And I've tested a lot."
One example was a Friday night run when he set unofficial Indy track records with a run in 3.827 seconds at 337.07 mph with crew chiefs Dean Antonelli, John Medlen and Neal Strausbaugh.
"I think if you go to a test session and your car goes to the finish line under power on every run, you're not pushing the envelope enough," Beckman said. "The whole point of a test session isn't to just go and make laps, it's not practice. It's trying things you think might work and they don't all work."
Beckman and the Infinite Hero Dodge has won two titles this year and will start Friday night qualifying ranked fifth in points behind DSR teammates Ron Capps (first), Matt Hagan (third) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (fourth).
The potential for a big points swing with 191 points up for grabs over Labor Day Weekend could allow Beckman to move up as high as second. Each position he can advance would pay dividends when the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff begins two weeks after Indy near Charlotte and the points for the top-10 drivers will be reset. The regular season points leader will start 20 points ahead of No. 2 with others set apart by 10-point intervals.
"Every spot you can advance could be instrumental when the Mello Yello championship trophy is handed out. It's important to move up in the standings this weekend but it's more important to win Indy. And if you win Indy, the points will take care of themselves."
JACK BECKMAN, Doug & Terry Chandler's Infinite Hero Foundation 2017 Dodge Charger R/T Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 5th 17 2 2 3 8 2 0 0 27-15
CAREER 269 26 27 48 81 80 21 7 359-236
Career best time, speed: 3.825 sec., (2016 Pomona 2); 334.15 mph (Seattle 2016)
INDY BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (Aug. 20), Brainerd, Minn.: Qualified No. 6, lost in second round to John Force
A year ago at Indy: Qualified No. 2, lost in first round to Dave Richards
Career at Indy: Wins 1 (2015); Runner-ups 2 (2008, 2013); Poles 1 (2015);
All-star/Invitational event titles 3 (2007, 2013, 2015)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Brainerd; 17 of 24 events: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,383 ----
2. Robert Hight (2) 1,247 -136
3. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,214 -169
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 1,180 -203
5. JACK BECKMAN (2) 1,160 -223
6. Courtney Force 1,012 -371
7. John Force (1) 954 -429
8. Tim Wilkerson 792 -591
9. J.R. Todd (1) 788 -595
10. Alexis DeJoria (1) 664 -719
DSR OPEN HOUSE PRESENTED BY PENNZOIL TO BENEFIT RILEY HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN: The 12th annual DSR Open House presented by Pennzoil to benefit Riley Hospital for Children is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday at Don Schumacher Racing headquarters (1681 E. Northfield Drive, Brownsburg) to kick off the U.S. Nationals held only 2 miles from DSR.
DSR's seven nitro drivers and team owner Don Schumacher will be on hand to sign autographs at noon after a performance by the Gordon Pipers bagpipe and drum corp. In addition to a silent auction (see early items at dsr17.auction-bid.org), the Open House features one of Indiana's biggest indoor car and bike shows organized by the Indy Hi-Winders Car Club, nitro Cacklefest, various displays and vendors and some of the area's most popular food trucks and Papa John's pizza.
COUNTDOWN TO THE COUNTDOWN: Many drivers consider the U.S. Nationals to be the "first" race of the Mello Yello Series Countdown to the Championship six-race playoff that begins two weeks after Indy near Charlotte.
Although Indy is the last of 18 regular season events, it will finalize the top-10 drivers who qualify to contend for their respective world titles, and points are reset after Indy for the Countdown.
This week offers drivers a chance to earn a maximum of 191 points compared to 130 offered at the previous 17 races. Indy is the only Mello Yello event with five qualifying sessions instead of four.
The quickest driver in each session earns four bonus points, second quick gets three, third quick gets two and fourth quick gets one. Each round win on Monday pays 30 points instead of 20. Each driver making a qualifying attempt earns 15 and added points are issued for the final qualifying order: 10 for first, nine for second, eight for third, seven for fourth, six each for fifth and sixth, five for seventh and eighth, four for ninth through 12th and three for 13th through 16th.
$100,000 TRAXXAS TOP FUEL NITRO SHOOTOUT: All three DSR nitro teams are qualified for the $100,000-to-win Traxxas Top Fuel Nitro Shootout. One spot in each category will be determined by a fan vote and lottery drawing on Wednesday during Fanfest at Monument Circle in downtown Indy.
The top seed for Saturday's Top Fuel Shootout is DSR's three-time and reigning world champion ANTRON BROWN, who will race the lottery winner in the first round. Other first-round matchups are: LEAH PRITCHETT vs. Doug Kalitta, TONY SCHUMACHER vs. Brittany Force and Steve Torrence vs. Clay Millican.
The top-seed for Sunday's Funny Car Shootout is DSR's reigning world champion RON CAPPS, who will race the lottery winner in the first round. Other first-round matchups are: MATT HAGAN vs. John Force, TOMMY JOHNSON JR. vs. JACK BECKMAN and Robert Hight vs. J.R. Todd.
U.S. NATIONALS ON FOX: FOX national broadcast and FS1 will televise coverage of the U.S. Nationals, starting with qualifying on Sunday, Sept. 3 on FS1 at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. (EDT). The broadcasts continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage of eliminations on Monday, Sept. 4 starting at 11 a.m., continuing live on FOX at 1 p.m.