Veteran nitro Funny Car driver Jack Beckman has given himself a legitimate chance to win his second career world championship.
With two races remaining in the NHRA Mello Yello Series season, Beckman knows there’s no time to waste.
Beckman arrived in Las Vegas for the NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend second in the points standings – 70 points behind leader Robert Hight.
Beckman took a step in the right direction to keep his name squarely in the championship hunt by snaring the No. 1 qualifying spot in Vegas with a track record ET of 3.835 second elapsed time in Q4. He set the new track record for speed at 335.90 mph during Friday night’s second session.
Beckman drives the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat for Don Schumacher Racing. Beckman won his lone nitro Funny Car world title in 2012.
“I just want the trophy, and that will make it a perfect weekend,” Beckman said. “(John) Force’s 3.85 in Q3 was an eye-opener for everyone. No one thought you could run that quick, but the clocks didn’t lie because he ran that quick. So, we knew Q4 was going to be a little better, and obviously (co-crew chiefs Dean) ‘Guido’ (Antonelli) and (John) Medlen made perfect calls.
“In Q3, Force took three points for running quick E.T. If we didn’t get points in Q4, Force would have passed us in the Funny Car standings. Those bonus points are enormous because they represent a round. If someone is one point behind you or 19 points behind you, it takes them a round to move around you. So, getting those points was probably the biggest deal for us as far as protecting our position. There are a ton of hungry competitors behind us, and Robert Hight has been great. He hasn’t stumbled much, but until we face him, all we can control is our own destiny.”
This is Beckman’s 27th career No. 1 qualifying position. This season, Beckman has 36 round wins. Beckman meets Terry Haddock in round one.
This is the third career No. 1 qualifying spot Beckman has had in Las Vegas.
“I don’t know what (Sunday’s) conditions are going to be like,” Beckman said. “No. 1, this gives us a better first-round match-up. No. 2 it is going to give us lane choice and No. 3 it is going to give us the pair we’re going to run in. I will guarantee we will pick fourth pair because that’s always a tribute to Eric Medlen who was No. 4 many years in nitro Funny Car. This gives us a lot more confidence. The car is doing what it is supposed to be doing even when we weren’t running good for us our numbers weren’t terrible. I think John and Guido are comfortable with information we have here, and I think we can push hard first round.”
The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Series season concludes with the Vegas race this weekend and then the season finale – the Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 14-17 in Pomona, Calif. In Pomona, the points-and-a-half system will be in play allowing drivers to make up more ground.
“I have to put my race day mental program up for (Sunday) and put the qualifying one away,” Beckman said. “This is a sport where things happen so fast, hero to zero to hero again, sometimes you have to just slow down and enjoy it.”