If 2020 is to be Jack Beckman’s last season in a fuel-burning Funny Car, he’s apparently making the most of the opportunity.
Locked into a tight championship points race with teammate Matt Hagan, Beckman drove his way to the top of the Funny Car qualifying list with a 3.884 second elapsed time at 328.14 miles per hour. The run not only secured the top seed headed into Sunday’s final eliminations but also point him in the championship lead, at least provisionally.
The pole position was Beckman’s first of the season, the 28th of his career. He achieved the momentous run in the final session but believed it was there for the taking in the opening session.
“I think we would have got him first run, but I drove it out of the groove, and you feel about 3 inches tall when you do that,” Beckman explained. “I think I’ve vindicated myself second run.”
For Beckman, the experience wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“Oh my God is this track bumpy,” Beckman said. “I was steering it, and it was bouncing. I was afraid it was gonna knock the tires loose, but John and Guido have just been brilliant. They’ve got such a great database right now that even with our new clutch pack, they have dialed this car right, and we’re as good as everybody right now. There isn’t any reason we can’t get more bonus points in Vegas, and that could offset a round. But if given the choice, I’ll take my points one round win at a time.”
The waters might have been choppy, but headed into the first of eight remaining elimination rounds available, Beckman finds himself in a groove, the likes of which win championships.
“I think that right now Dickie and John and Guido are at the top of the food chain,” Beckman said. “It’s no coincidence these two cars are leading the points right now. These tuners have just shown week in and week out; they’re at the top of the heap. There’s other cars out here that are capable of flying. You look at what John Collins and Rip have done with Tommy Johnson’s car. Oh my God, that streak they had going was amazing, but you know, I’m not saying the pendulum swung; I’m saying we’ve caught back up with our new clutch disc package here, and Dickie’s right back as good as he’s ever been and this is what the fans pay to see.”
Beckman understands with a win; he could hand team owner Don Schumacher his 13th consecutive race win in Funny Car. However, it won’t be an easy task as Beckman races Ron Capps in the first round.
“If we beat four people tomorrow, they’ll hand us another trophy,” Beckman said. “I didn’t ever think, with 17 cars here, that (Ron) Capps would be the No. 16 qualifier but, I’m happy. We know we are going to have to earn this championship.”
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