Photos by Jeff Burghardt
Words by Jeff Wolf/DSR
Don Schumacher Racing’s record-setting efforts in qualifying Friday and Saturday during the NHRA Sonoma Nationals will look great on highlight videos, and in record-books and media reports, but the purpose of outstanding achieving those runs is to earn a good position for championship eliminations.
But for Jack Beckman and the Infinite Hero Funny Car team, picking up 20 bonus points for setting the NHRA national elapsed-time record will have lasting value.
Not only did five of DSR’s seven teams qualify in the top half of the Top Fuel and Funny Car fields for Sunday’s championship eliminations at Sonoma Raceway, but Beckman earned the third NHRA national E.T. record of his career when his shocking run of 3.958 seconds in Saturday’s final session on a hot racetrack backed up the quickest run in history of 3.921 he made on a much cooler night before in the Infinite Hero Dodge with crew chief Jimmy Prock and assistants John Medlen and Chris Cunningham.
Beckman’s last 3-second run was his third of the weekend to give him an NHRA leading total of 15.
“It’s nice to be the quickest Funny Car driver ever, but I’d trade that for winning the trophy tomorrow,” said Beckman, who has won two of the past three Mello Yello events and his win a week ago at Denver was his career-best fourth in one season.
“These moments are not lost on me,” said the 2012 Funny Car world champion. “They are incredibly special. It does matter that we qualify the best, it does matter that we set low ET of the world, all I’m telling you is in the big picture of racing it’s not our main goal.”
“It’s beyond satisfying. I never thought I would be here, I really didn’t. I was out here in 2004 going through chemotherapy and I won the divisional race in my Super Comp car. I didn’t know, we took the pictures down there and I thought this might be our last winner’s circle ever. Not because I was a fatalist but because you just don’t know. Nineteen wins, a championship and all of this stuff later is not lost on me. This is just absolutely enormous,” said Beckman.
The Sonoma Nationals is the second of three races in three weeks that comprise the Western Swing that will include a Mello Yello race next weekend at Seattle.
No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.921 sec.-NATIONAL RECORD/quickest ever, 323.43 mph
JACK BECKMAN, Infinite Hero 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 1
First round: Tony Pedregon
SATURDAY: 4.280 sec., 219.01 mph, (Session 3); 3.958, 318.04, (Session 4)
FRIDAY: 3.982 sec.-track record, 320.05, (Session 1); 3.921-track record/quickest ever, 323.43, (Session 2)
Here’s the NHRA Video on Beckman’s awesome record setting run!