DSR Las Vegas II Friday Highlights:
- Jack Beckman raced to the provisional top spot in Funny Car
- The DSR Top Fuel trio of Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, and Tony Schumacher occupy spots in the quick half of the field
- Brown posted low E.T. of Q1 and collected three bonus points
- Pritchett and Tommy Johnson Jr. also earned bonus points for solid qualifying runs
- Pritchett and Matt Hagan unveiled Las Vegas-esque chromed out Pennzoil liveries ahead of Q1
Jack Beckman Leads Funny Car Field Friday in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (October 26, 2018) – ‘Fast’ Jack Beckman is the current Funny Car No. 1 qualifier at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after powering the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to a run of 3.922-seconds at 327.19-mph during Q1 on Friday afternoon.
Friday’s schedule at the NHRA Toyota Nationals was unusual in the fact that both qualifying sessions were contested during the middle of the day, rather than the usual late afternoon/Friday night format. With two more mid-day qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday, teams will have the unique advantage of collecting 'race day' data from four rounds, all of which could be useful when determining Sunday tune-ups.
“This is the first time that I can recall in recent memory that we’ve run this early on Friday,” said Beckman, a three-time No. 1 qualifier at the northern Las Vegas venue. “What happens is Q1 always sets the run order for Q2, and Q2 sets the qualifying order. We knew that probably wasn’t going to be the case here. In fact, for Funny Cars, our first session had slightly better track conditions than the second one, so it was really unusual to see and expect that what you ran right off the trailer was as good as what you were going to see on a Friday, and that’s nail-biting time for the crew chiefs. They’ve got to make an educated guess and recognize that if you squander it on the first one, you probably won’t improve on the second session. I’m very happy with the amount of data research that (crew chiefs Dean) ‘Guido’ (Antonelli), (John) Medlen and Neal Strausbaugh were able to do.
“Night runs are for the fans. Night runs are not for the crew chiefs; they’re not for the drivers. Night runs are there because they’re just bitchin’ to watch, quite frankly, but you don’t learn a thing that’s going to help you on race day. The benefit of running early on Friday here is that all four of our qualifying runs will be representative of the conditions we’ll see on Sunday. It should mean that every crew chief has at least one run more, or 25% more data, than we would typically have going into race day.”
The Infinite Hero team is seeking their second No. 1 starting position of the season. They previously captured the pole at the NHRA Gatornationals earlier in the year and went on to win the event. While Beckman is no longer in the hunt to contend for the 2018 NHRA Funny Car title, he is hopeful for a ‘top five’ finish, and a win at the second-to-last event of the year would be a tremendous boost towards achieving that goal.
“We’re not where we wanted to be,” said the 2012 Funny Car champion. “We’re out of the championship race this year. Realistically, our goal is to get into the top five. There’s still two trophies up for grabs, but I’m happy with the fact that no one’s dragging their chins over our season. It’s so gratifying to know that every time I drive into the race track on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday that I have a car that’s capable of winning or running better than everyone else, and we proved that today.
When asked if he believed his Q1 run would hold up to be low E.T. of qualifying, Beckman said, “With more data, a lot of times the crew chiefs find out they didn’t push it in certain areas, and they can run an aggregate quicker time, you just can’t push it as hard overall out there, so I don’t think it’s going to hold up. I’ve never proven to be a good predictor of Funny Car E.T.s, but I don’t really care about the green (No. 1 qualifier) hats, I just want the yellow (event champion) hats. The good thing about qualifying No. 1 is that you get more qualifying points. I don’t know if these bonus points are going to make much of a difference for us in our final points position, but if they’re going to give them away, we might as well try to take as many as we can.
“I think we have the luxury of pushing it tomorrow and that’s a nice position to be in because you can try and do something you normally wouldn’t if you weren’t qualified solid.”
Q1: 3.922 E.T. at 327.19 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.978 E.T. at 322.73 MPH
Bonus Points: Three