Jack Beckman earns first win of 2019 at perfect time in Reading.

Jack Beckman scored his first win of the 2019 season at the perfect time to take over the Funny Car standings. He defeated John Force in a rematch of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals to capture his first win in more than a year.

Beckman left on Force by four-hundredths of a second to earn a holeshot victory against the 16-time champion by .036-second. The Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat will head to the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in first place for the first time in a very long time after getting past Jim Campbell, Robert Hight and J.R. Todd.

“John has kind of owned me lately, so I’d be lying if I said this one wasn’t extra special,” said Beckman. “I said I’d take six runner ups in the Countdown to win a championship and I was lying to you guys. Now, I’ll take five runner ups … and okay, I’m lying to you guys about that, too.”

Force remains in second place, sliding past John Force Racing teammate Hight, who entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed. He moved down to third place, five points behind the winningest driver in NHRA history. Force beat Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson and Ron Capps to reach his second-straight final, fresh off winning the U.S. Nationals.

John Smith scored a massive upset in the first round by taking down No. 2 qualifier Bob Tasca III with a 4.28-second pass. He made a clean pass in the second round, but fell to defending world champion Todd, who advanced to the semifinals before losing to Beckman. It was the fifth final round of the season for Beckman and 61st Funny Car final of his career. He’s now 29-32 in Funny Car final rounds.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour moves to St. Louis for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Sept. 27-29.

15 Sep 2019 Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor