Mar 18, 2008
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - “Fast” Jack Beckman, driver of the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T, is just six points out of the Funny Car lead in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing series after three events so far, following his quarterfinal finish today at the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. No. 1 in the standings, Robert Hight, was eliminated in the opening round.
The Frank Hawley Drag Racing School instructor first defeated his “boss” Frank Hawley in the first stanza, with a very close 4.866-second pass at 320.66 mph to Hawley’s 4.898/321.04, then fell to Tim Wilkerson in the second round after posting a 4.957/307.09 to Wilkerson’s winning 4.848/322.34. Beckman had the edge on take-off, but was passed by his opponent at the 60-ft. mark.
“It wasn’t a great weekend, but it was a good weekend, ” said Beckman, winner at the last event in Phoenix. “We qualified top half and we won a round again, and we just ran into a buzz saw in the second round named Tim Wilkerson.
Really, we did everything we wanted to. The race track was hot, we set it up to run a low 4.90 (-second elapsed time). The only thing is it moved over a little bit and spun the tires.
“But, when Tim Wilkerson is running a 4.84, that’s awful tough. We were third low (elapsed time) of the round. We took a calculated guess of what the track would hold and we got beat. No excuses. We’re ready to go to Houston. Everybody on the Valvoline/MTS Dodge crew is upbeat and enthusiastic right now. ”
As for that race against Hawley, “Well, the interesting thing is I think the perception is that we were staring back and forth at each other and it’s kind of like one of those Hollywood-ish deals, ” said Beckman. “The reality is, when you’re strapped in one of these Dodge Chargers, it’s like being in the back seat of a station wagon and the side windows are blacked out. You really can’t see much next to you. ”
“It was a great race. We were together from start to finish, and the analogy I give is, I’m a little leaguer, I stepped up to the major leagues and Mickey Mantle came out of retirement and let me pitch to him. It’s awesome. I have all the respect in the world for Frank. I thought it was great to go up against him, win, lose or draw. Obviously I’m happy we won, and I think he’s going to be giving the rest of us full-time drivers fits the rest of the year.
“I haven’t seen him yet. I have to make sure I still have a job. ”