By his own admission, Jack Beckman didn't mind not racing in the Funny Car division during early events at Gateway International Raceway.
In those events, the ambient temperature hovered in excess of 100 degrees and the track became so hot racing was stopped for track cooling.
Beckman, on the other hand, was more than grateful for this past weekend’s St. Louis experience as he raced to the AAA NHRA Midwest Nationals crown in Chamber of Commerce atmospheric conditions.
Beckman believes the incredible performances turned in during the weekend helped Gateway to erase less-than-spectacular performances often attributed to the time of the year the race was contested.
“I think tracks get unfairly over or under-rated simply by the numbers which come up on the scoreboard which has far more to do with the time we run there than the actual racing surface,” explained Beckman. “I think it’s cool that St. Louis gets to show off with good atmospheric conditions.”
Just how much did five months difference in scheduling make for Gateway?
The racing in this year’s event was nearly a half-tenth quicker when Beckman scored low elapsed time with a 4.049 during Friday evening’s pole position run. The event never ran the 1,000-foot course during the summer months, having moved their race to May in 2007 and is now a Countdown race held in the early autumn weather.
“I really think it’s great the people around [St. Louis] get to come to a Countdown race,” added Beckman, who trails Ron Capps in the battle for the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship.
“I like the idea that we’ve changed the Countdown around some so a track which doesn’t get to see a race does. Phoenix got one last year, and St. Louis did this season. I think it’s a cool (viewing) point for the region and the track. I think it mixes it up for the crew chiefs and the drivers.”
In 2008, the second season of the NHRA’s playoff system, NHRA added zMax Dragway, located outside of Charlotte, as one of the new race track additions. The schedule remained the same for 2009 but in 2010, Indianapolis and Reading were added as Countdown races when Memphis and Richmond left the tour.
Last season, Indianapolis returned to the regular season while Phoenix was granted a Countdown event.
There are presently no new additions for the 2013 Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series.
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