Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
Beckman talks countdown, crew chief changes, and 'the zoo'
Brainerd, prerace: It's not a secret. Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Jack Beckman is living his dream. He joined Don Schumacher Racing as a Funny Car rookie at the end of 2006 and, in five races, set two national records, was low qualifier once, and won one national event after reaching two final rounds.
This season, with the new Countdown to the Championship in place, the cancer survivor and former Air Force sergeant has gone from struggling early on to scorching the nation's quarter-miles by winning back-to-back events in Denver and Seattle and jumping from 10th into fifth place in the rankings in just five races. Only the top eight in points will compete in the Countdown.
As he enters this weekend's Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in
"My mother's father is from Minnesota, so I've got at least six cousins coming out to the race so far," said Beckman, who had a limited stint in the Top Fuel class before joining DSR, "and the only time I ever raced Brainerd was in the Top Fuel car in '05 and it's got a completely unique flavor to it.
"The interesting thing is that sometimes at the tracks we go to, the star is the scenery, like a
"I swear there are people in
"On the Countdown to the Championship side, we have two races left. We're fifth, but our goal, if you would have asked me five races ago, was to solidify a top-eight spot. Now our goal is to try to move up into third, so that we'll only be 20 rounds out of first place when the next phase of the Countdown begins.
"So, we've got to get down to business and we've got eight rounds of racing left and we want to try to win every one of them."
As for his crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler now also tuning the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger that DSR teammate Gary Scelzi drives, "It's going to be interesting," he said. "The upside that I see is that, with absolutely carbon-copy cars, which we will have now, Todd and Phil will get double the data when we go down the race track. And now that we're going to go into the Countdown this could be the hidden advantage that the Don Schumacher cars need to win the championship.
"In theory, we'll get two runs of data every time we go down the race track. And I don't know that there's any team in motorsports that will have this ability, where the crew-chief brain trust just walks trailer to trailer and puts the same tune-up in both cars. Or, if one car doesn't run as expected they can make a minor adjustment to the other car while it's still in the lanes."
Mail Terminal Services will be featuring
For the record, DSR Funny Car drivers have won seven out of the 15 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events so far: Ron Capps (3), Jack Beckman (2), Gary Scelzi (2).
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