Beckman comes back
Jack Beckman’s fortunes took a nice u-turn from Thursday to Friday when he set the quick qualifying time in Funny Car for Sunday’s Auto Club Finals on the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona dragstrip. After having his Dodge Charger body blow off during initial qualifying on Thursday afternoon, Beckman took his repaired Don Schumacher Racing car and managed to knock Thursday’s quick qualifier Courtney Force from her perch.
It was quite the turnaround.
While Beckman’s crew knew they could use a different body shell from the one that blew up and shattered in Thursday’s conflagration, they weren’t entirely certain about the veracity of the chassis. Without a set-up pad – like the ones used by roundy-round and road-circuit racers – at their disposal, they needed to use the flattest plane they could find to ensure the car’s chassis was straight.
Crew chiefs Todd Smith and Terry Snyder supervised a crew that did the impossible – the car was perfect, Beckman said. “These are the things that you dream of,” he regaled after the run that gave Beckman the top speed of the day in Funny Car at 4.025 seconds at 319.75 mph, knocking Courtney Force’s Ford Mustang to second as he goes for his fifth No. 1 this year and ninth overall.
“You don’t think of blowing a car up that bad, but when you do you think, ‘Would that be unbelievable for this team to come back and go to the top’. That’s not practical most of the time. I thought they might give us a 4.07 or 4.08, we’d be back to our baseline tune-up and could lean on it” once Saturday qualifying rolled around.
By setting the top speed of the day, Beckman earned an additional three bonus points and gave himself a seven–point advantage over teammate Ron Capps, whose pass of 4.700/183.77 was only good for 16th, leaving him on the outside looking in. Long-shot Mike Neff fell down the order to sixth place after two rounds of qualifying.
After rain washed out Top Fuel qualifying on Thursday, that nitro-powered class had a single opportunity on Friday. Morgan Lucas’s 3.761/324.98, Kahlid alBalooshi’s 3.761/324.20 and David Grubnic’s 3.787/322.27 passes were top qualifiers, with championship contenders Spencer Massey fourth (he’s third in the standings), point leader Antron Brown sixth and second-place Tony Schumacher, the seven-time class champion in ninth.
Greg Anderson came from zero to hero on Friday to take top honors in Pro Stock with his Chevrolet Camaro at 6.527/211.76 beating point leader Allen Johnson by a hundredth (6.537/211.56). Jason Line tenaciously remains third, with V Gaines and Erica Enders hot on their heels.
Andrew Hines continues to lead Pro Stock Motorcycle, followed by Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle teammate and point leader Eddie Krawiec in second and Scotty Pollacheck’s S&S Buell in third, Matt Smith’s Buell fourth and 2010 champion LE Tonglet the quickest Suzuki in fifth.
While rain showers were predicted for Saturday, the day’s dawned clear and crisp – perfect racing weather.
By Anne Proffit