Jack Beckman wasn’t worried about becoming the first.
Instead, he wrapped up one of the most complete wins of his NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car career.
After becoming the No. 1 qualifier at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, Beckman racked up four more solid and consistent runs in eliminations on Sunday, the last one a 4.277 at 293.79 mph to defeat Courtney Force and deny the rookie her first Funny Car win. Beckman wasn’t concerned about becoming the opponent in Force’s first win and instead kept focused on his own wire-to-wire victory.
“You can think about stuff and let it drive you crazy, but at some point, to do well at this, you have to get that out of your head and go up there and try to own the tree and the race car,” Beckman said. “Let’s face it, Courtney is going to get her first win pretty soon. I don’t care if I’m that guy because that means we made another final. But we wanted to take that trophy home today.”
So did Force in her second career final and the end result was an outstanding duel with Beckman.
While Beckman was straight and true for the eighth straight pass at Bandimere, Force skated all over the place, nearly meeting the wall at the finish line. It upped the entertainment level in an already thrilling race, but Beckman had just enough at the end – winning by less than four feet – to hold onto a lead head gained late in the race.
It seemed to be a fitting conclusion for Beckman, who won for the second time in 2012 and also for the second time at a Bandimere track he has revered since first visiting it in 1984.
“We weren’t perfect today, but at the end of the day we took a race car that qualified No. 1 and we made it down the track every pass,” Beckman said. “I’d like to think that we forced some other cars to try and beat us, and that’s why we got the win lights.”
Two cars went red against Beckman, with Todd Simpson doing it in the first round and then John Force uncharacteristically doing it in the semifinals. Before that round, Beckman, who went 4.384 against the elder Force, and the Don Schumacher Racing team faced some adverse situations in the pits.
“Making it up to the semifinals, we thought there was a chance we might miss the call,” said Beckman, who now has 14 career wins. “We had to put a new throttle cable on the car and we had a computer go bad on us in the warm-up. It was a little hectic for a while and we got up here and got me strapped up as quick as we could. It was a lot of heavy heart-beatin’ for a while.”
Beckman made it to the starting line with time to spare and then proved to be the ultimate nemesis to the Force family over the final two rounds.
Courtney Force reached the final with a gutty win against teammate Robert Hight in the second round – setting up a pair of DSR-Team Force semifinal matchups – and then followed with brilliant 4.259 at 295.79 to pick up her first win against Ron Capps.
But Beckman was too solid the entire weekend, running 4.27 and 4.358 during the first two rounds. It added to a weekend of complete dominance and solidified Beckman as a bona fide championship contender.
“To be able to win two in Funny Car in any one season is pretty hard, and to have two at just past the mid-point of the season, I think we kind of put a stamp on it and said this team is going to contend the rest of the year,” Beckman said.
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