Jack Beckman, in his Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T, captured the provisional pole following the first day of qualifying for the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Beckman posted a 4.051-second pass at 302.62 mph in the only session of the day and as a result sat atop the leader board with four more qualifying runs to go.
“It (the lap) never felt that quick,” Beckman related. “The thing was trying to move over the center line for the first half of the run. I kept fighting it and fighting it and finally got it back in the center and then it goes and drops a hole and then another one later. When I pulled the chutes and looked up at the scoreboard and saw the 4.05, I thought that it must be the guy in the other lane. It was far from a perfect run, but the ET slip was certainly perfect for sure.”
The California resident, who arrived in Indianapolis holding third in the points, feels a recent two-day test in Indianapolis greatly helped his cause on day one.
"Our car has been running great," Beckman said. "In all conditions, it's been awesome. Our Achilles Heel has been these runs that crop up when it gets out there to 400 or 500 feet on the track and once in a while it will spin the tires."
Beckman, who is shooting for his third pole of the season and the 14th of his career, felt confident his crew chief, Todd Smith, knew the exact approach to take to overcome their prerace issues.
"The first thing we did at the test was to reconfigure our clutch application to try to fix that and we did," Beckman said. "Then, we tested a lot of our spare parts to make sure that in the Countdown if we had to change something we had an equally good replacement for it.
"We were able to test a new clutch and clutch discs. Testing for the sake of practice just wears out parts. Testing is productive when you have things that you want to try or change and see what results you get so you can make a list and cross things off. I think we had a real successful test."
Now, since he’s off to a flying start to the weekend, the focus has shifted to preparing to win the most important race on the schedule.
"The interesting thing is Indy has bounced back and forth to being the last race of the regular season and the first race of the Countdown," Beckman said. "The reality is you can put Indy in December and it wouldn't matter because it's still going to be the biggest race of the year. Winning four rounds on Monday means everything to a team. You want that on your resume.”
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