BECKMAN PICKS UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF WITH QUICKEST PASS FRIDAY AT WINTERNATIONALS
He may not have been in the championship picture late in 2017, but one of the quickest drivers in the field at the end of last season was Jack Beckman.
Beckman ended 2017 with a pair of top qualifier awards and a few deep runs on Sunday and looked like he hasn’t missed a beat on Friday to kick off the 2018 season with the provisional No. 1 spot at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway.
Beckman came out the gate with a clean, yet unspectacular, run to open Friday qualifying, but his team found some footing and backed it up with a chart-topping 3.860-second pass at 332.84 mph in the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in session two to pace the field.
“I used to hate the saying ‘it is what it is’ because I know that if you work hard and you try hard you can better the situation, but sometimes it really is what it is,” Beckman said. “If you unload with a good run or a great run, you go ‘okay, there is our starting point, let’s tune on it.’
“To come out and unload with a full pass first run and then for the team to make brilliant tuning adjustments to go to No. 1 on the second run, that is what’s gratifying to me. The crew works just as hard if we smoke the tires or go No. 1, but I will guarantee they were pretty elated with that pass. At the end of the day, that timeslip means the world to that group of 10 guys working on the Infinite Hero car.”
Beckman just edged his Don Schumacher Racing teammates Matt Hagan and Ron Capps to take the provisional top spot and, potentially, a third-straight green hat. Hagan crossed the stripe with a 3.877 at 329.99 mph, while Capps clocked in at 3.882 at 331.12 mph. Robert Hight (3.889) and Cruz Pedregon (3.924) rounded out the top five.
“I was interviewed a couple of times in the offseason and I was tooting our horn that we weren’t going to make any wholesale changes to the tune-up and I felt super confident unloading the car because we had put the six-disc in last year and paid our dues with it and had a good running car,” Beckman said. “We show up at Phoenix preseason testing and we go 0-for-7 for the first three days and we had to put three new clutch discs in.
“We thought we would take an extra day at preseason testing so we stayed there Sunday and the guys worked through the Super Bowl to make sure that we had a good car. I think this is the payoff for them for that extra day of work.”
Of course, a solid day one at the season opener not only provides a team with confidence moving forward, it also allows the team to try a few things and hopefully gain an advantage on Sunday.
“Being qualified well gives us the ability to swing a little harder tomorrow,” Beckman said. “We can now get a little edgier than we normally would have. If we push too hard and smoke the tires, we know where the limit is. It will all depend on cloud cover. The track temperature is going to dictate what we can throw at it and if there are any sort of clouds, our run won’t hold.”
Written by Larry Crum, photo by Dave Kommel Sat, 2018-02-10 12:00