The thrill of victory has been within his grasp several times in 2019, but Sunday in the final of the 35th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, Jack Beckman seized the opportunity and registered his first Funny Car class victory of the season.
Two weeks after coming up agonizingly close to victory in the final regular season event at Indianapolis, Beckman and his Mopar-powered Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car of Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) were not going to be denied in the first of six Countdown to the Championship playoff races. Beckman defeated John Force in the final, capturing his 29th career victory and third career win at Maple Grove Raceway. With the win, Beckman quickly jumped to the top spot in the Countdown standings.
“Winning this one is extra special for a few reasons because we did it in the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals,” said Beckman. “It’s our first win in the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat body. We took over the points lead, and it’s been way too long since we’ve been to the winner’s circle. For a shot in the arm, for a psychological boost, for that mental edge, that intangible that I think you need to be able to win a championship, this might be the thing that is the first step for us.”
Beckman’s path to victory today started from the third qualifying position following consistent runs in sessions two, three and four, late Friday and Saturday afternoon. The 2012 Funny Car champion first defeated fellow Dodge//SRT driver Jim Campbell. Beckman then squared off with former champion Robert Hight, who led the Funny Car class point standings coming into the weekend, in round two. Beckman delivered another solid win from the left lane while Hight smoked the tires at the starting line. In the semifinal, the results were the same with Beckman charging his HEMI-powered machine cleanly down the left lane while his opponent, J.R. Todd lost traction and coasted to the finish.
In his 62nd career Funny Car final and eighth final-round appearance against Force, Beckman wasted little time by rolling in quickly and using his quick reflexes to post a .028 reaction time versus a .068 light for Force. Beckman’s fast start was the difference with his run of 3.958 seconds at 330.07 mph turning on the win light over Force’s slightly better run of 3.952 seconds at 328.78 mph, giving Beckman the holeshot victory and his first piloting a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.
Beckman’s appearance in the final marked the eighth consecutive race that a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car has competed for the class win; with four of the eight appearances resulting in wins for a DSR driver. A Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car has also appeared in 15 of 19 final rounds in 2019.
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