Don Schumacher Racing’s “Fast” Jack Beckman clearly has to be a believer in the line “good things come to those who wait.”
Heading into Saturday’s action, the stars appeared aligned for Tim Wilkerson to grab his first Funny Car pole of the season. But, Mother Nature definitely had other ideas.
With only four pairs of racecars remaining in the final qualifying session for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, rain enveloped Brainerd International Raceway. Two hours later, Wilkerson was quickly shoved off the pole by Beckman after the latter posted a track record 4.019-second pass at 314.61 mph.
“I told the guys on the radio that at about 300 feet I knew we were on a run,” said Beckman, who directs the Valvoline Next Gen Funny Car. “We had to change fuel pumps (after session number three) and we had to get a fuel curve for tomorrow. I guess we’ll just leave those pumps in.”
It was Beckman’s second pole of the season and the sixth of his career. A two-time tour winner this year, the last time Beckman qualified at the top was in Denver – a race he won.
"We've been running well on a consistent basis and we made a decision to front half our chassis," he said. "Typically, we would like to take it out and test it one time and right after the Brainerd race we are going to have a two-day test session in Indianapolis. We just don't have the time with all the other teams in the shop to get the front half put on our car after Brainerd.
“Our goal is to win a championship so we feel like doing it now and running this chassis throughout the rest of the year gives us the best chance to do that."
Beckman will face 16th-place qualifier Dale Creasy, Jr. in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Coming out of the second spot, Wilkerson will line up opposite Bob Tasca III.
“We’re not where we wanted to be, but I believe we have something for whoever we race,” said Wilkerson.
Other opening round match ups of note include Cruz and Tony Pedregon, John Force Racing teammates Mike Neff and Robert Hight, as well as Matt Hagan and Jeff Arend.
Hight arrived in Minnesota as the point leader, while Hagan is in the midst of a tense battle to get into the Countdown to the Championship along with John Force, Tasca III and Wilkerson.
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