Jack Beckman has had no time this weekend to enjoy his Funny Car achievements.
He had to focus on eliminations so any celebration Saturday night of his record-setting qualifying runs during the Auto-Plus Nationals at Reading, Pa., were out. He had little time to revel in the aftermath of his pending national records for elapsed time (3.989 seconds) and speed (320.58 mph), knowing he had validated the E.T. mark with runs of 4.001 and 4.011. He didn't have a toast even to the fact he had improved his own national speed record (318.99 mph).
No. Beckman had to sacrifice the joy of being on the verge of gaining 20 more invaluable points in this NHRA Countdown race to focus on his first-round date with No. 16 qualifier Mike Smith.
As he saw No. 1-seeded Top Fuel driver Dave Grubnic lose to No. 16 underdog Ike Maier Sunday morning on Maple Grove Raceway's 1,000-foot course, Beckman had to appreciate that strategy. He went out Sunday and defeated Smith with a 3.986-second pass. It cemented his bid for the E.T. record that would be his if no one topped it in eliminations.
Not only was his Sunday morning pass quicker, it was the second-quickest pass in Funny Car history.
Again, he had no time Sunday to rejoice. He had to prepare himself while crew chiefs Todd Smith and Terry Snyder prepared his Schumacher Electric Dodge Charger for Monday morning's rain-delayed quarterfinal showdown.
Sunday's eliminations began two hours late, and teams waited out long delay after the first round of eliminations of Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock. Then another wave of rain swept in, forcing officials to push the finish of the race to Monday -- something not uncommon at this facility.
When action resumes, Beckman will square off against points leader and DSR mate Ron Capps -- and the NAPA Dodge crew that was his team for the first four races of the season. At stake is the points lead with only two more events remaining in the season.
Capps brought at 30-point lead over second-place Beckman to Maple Grove Raceway. However, Beckman has cut the margin to 17 with his qualifying bonus points.
"I don't think we were trying to lower the record," Beckman said after his first-round performance. "It's a poker thing. You take a chance on locking up those 20 points, because another car could take it. Zippy [John Force Racing's Mike Neff, the No. 3 qualifier] could still run the record. And we'd like to leave with that 20 points. But you don't want to risk that and the round-win," Beckman said.
He said his crew chiefs were "probably pleasantly surprised, but they knew Friday with the 3.98 that there was more left in the car. I'm afraid there might be even more left."
Maybe his opponents should be more afraid.
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