Staying in the groove was half of the challenge Jack Beckman faced Friday evening during qualifying for the AAA NHRA Midwest Nationals outside of St. Louis.
Seeing well enough to perform the feat was the other.
“Dark,” Beckman described, when asked about Friday’s conditions following his track record 4.049-second, 308.85 mile per hour run which edged John Force for the top spot.
“It’s one of those things where (when) they drop the body you feel everything looks okay. There are some tracks which may not have as many lighting fixtures as St. Louis yet for some reason you can pick out a groove out there. It might just be because the track is prepped so well that you can’t see a groove out there. About 200 feet in the run, I determined the lights on the wall and the orange blocks in the center, so right in the middle of those ought to be okay.”
Beckman’s run came just moments after Force, the recent Traxxas Shootout winner, thrust his way back into the field with a 4.060 run. Matt Hagan was third in the logjam with a 4.061.
“The people who work on the Valvoline Next-Gen car do a phenomenal job because the car runs well every time.” Beckman said. “I do have tons of confidence in them. But when it comes to a nitro car with a ten-and-a-half foot wheelbase, there are no guarantees. These cars do crazy things sometimes.”
Beckman, at 4.155, was the seventh quickest after the first session, but by the time he staged Friday evening, had been bumped from the provisional twelve-car field.
“We went up there knowing these conditions were not going to be there on Saturday,” explained Beckman. “I staged knowing we needed those bonus points and the favorable spot on the ladder. I knew I had to make it to the finish line. This is the part, I guess, which keeps this exciting. There’s no dials where you can punch in a 4.049.”
Beckman admits the greatest satisfaction he gets is not in seeing the numbers on the board but rather the look on the faces of the three crewmen who pick him up after the run and the rest of the crew when they return to the pits.
“That makes it all worthwhile,” Beckman said.
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