BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Oct. 25, 2017) - Jack Beckman isn't ready to throw in the towel on winning his second world championship in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
But some thought he could have done that before the 2017 season began.
The 2012 Funny Car world champion for Don Schumacher Racing started this season with only one remaining crewmember and started the campaign with a new crew chief combination of Dean Antonelli, John Medlen and Neal Strausbaugh leading Terry and Doug Chandler's Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T team.
Although it is a longshot that Beckman can rally from being ranked fourth and 186 points out of first place heading to Las Vegas for this weekend's NHRA Nationals and the next-to-last event of the season, it is impressive that the Infinite Hero team is No. 4 with two event titles this year.
"Coming down the stretch I don't know if the handicappers at the being of the year would have had us going to Vegas less than one round (15 points) out of third place," said Beckman, who won at Las Vegas in 2006. "We've been a contender at every Mello Yello race this year."
The Infinite Hero Dodge and Beckman were the No. 1 qualifiers at both Las Vegas events last year but lost in the second round each time.
With only two events remaining in the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff, Beckman, who also won the 2003 NHRA Super Comp world championship as an amateur, knows has a monumental hill to climb.
"We all know anything is possible when you pour nitro into the fuel tanks of these cars. We'll be aggressive with our approach to Vegas and then at the Finals at Pomona."
For Beckman to have any chance at the world title, he knows that he can't control the fate of those he's chasing unless he faces them during Sunday eliminations. And he knows he has to win the last two titles of the year.
"For our Infinite Hero team, it's all about the trophies right now. I just want to go win the last two Wallys of the year. If than happens we will have done everything we could.
"Our goal is getting our picture taken with those two Wally trophies at the end of the day."
Antron Brown clinched his last two world championships for Don Schumacher Racing at Las Vegas and was able to celebrate two weeks later at the Pomona finale in Southern California.
That won't happen for Brown or any other driver in the nitro categories this year, largely because NHRA enhanced the points value for the season-ending NHRA Finals by about 150 percent.
At Las Vegas this weekend, like 22 of the previous 23 events in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the most a driver can earn with a perfect weekend is 130 points; at Pomona, 191 can be earned.
No Top Fuel or Funny Car driver can leave Las Vegas with a 192-point lead and clinch a championship, and any driver 192 or more points out of first after Sunday's final round at Las Vegas will be eliminated from contention.
The seven DSR drivers and 19 of the 20 in the Countdown remain alive in championship contention but most are likely to be mathematically eliminated after Las Vegas.
In Funny Car, DSR's Ron Capps (NAPA AUTO PARTS) is atop the standings but just 24 points ahead of hard-charging Robert Hight of John Force Racing. The drivers each have won twice through the first four Countdown playoff races. Jack Beckman (Infinite Hero) is fourth, 186 back while Matt Hagan (Pennzoil/Mopar) is fifth (-226) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (Make-A-Wish) is seventh (-271).
In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence leads Brittany Force and Doug Kalitta by 57 and 76 points, with DSR's three-time world champion Antron Brown, winner of the last two championships for Matco Tools, ranked fourth and 105 behind Torrence. Leah Pritchett (Pennzoil) is fifth (-180) and eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher is sixth (-192).
JACK BECKMAN, Terry and Doug Chandler's Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chiefs: Dean Antonelli, John Medlen, Neal Strausbaugh
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 4th 22 2 2 6 9 3 0 0 34-20
CAREER 274 26 27 51 82 81 21 7 366-241
Career best time, speed: 3.825 sec., (2016 Pomona 2); 334.15 mph (Seattle 2016)
BY THE NUMBERS
Last event, Oct. 15, Dallas: Qualified No. 3, lost in semifinals to Ron Capps
A year ago at Las Vegas 2: Qualified No. 1, lost in semifinals to John Force
This spring at Las Vegas 1: Qualified No.5, lost in second round to Jonnie Lindberg
Career at Las Vegas 2: Wins 1 (2006), Runner-ups 2 (2009, 2012), Poles 1 (2016)
Career at Las Vegas: Wins 1 (2006), Runner-ups 2 (2009, 2012), Poles 2 (2016-2)
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Official standings through Dallas; 22 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (8) 2495 -----
2. Robert Hight (4) 2471 -24
3. Courtney Force 2324 -171
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 2309 -186
5. MATT HAGAN (3) 2269 -226
6. John Force (1) 2252 -243
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 2224 -271
8. Tim Wilkerson 2206 -289
9. J.R. Todd (2) 2199 -296
10. Cruz Pedregon 2128 -307