Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NHRA'S Beckman on Fast Track with New Crew

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NHRA'S Beckman on Fast Track with New Crew

Article excerpt

As a self-described stats geek, Jack Beckman made what he considered an educated prediction of the shortest elapsed time and fastest speed for a funny car during the NHRA's 2015 season.

By his calculations, 3.935 seconds and 326 mph were possible under perfect conditions.

Then came a stretch in which Beckman broke the elapsed time record three times in as many events. Entering this weekend's National Hot Rod Association Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park, he holds the record at 3.901 seconds.

More importantly, Beckman and his high-performing funny car have six wins this season after a long drought, and he is sitting in third place with five events to go.

"You should reach a point of diminishing returns," Beckman said of the ability to continually set a new mark. "But it's weird. Every once in a while a car makes a huge performance leap and you're like 'Where did that come from?' We've gone so long with incremental, predictable changes and all of a sudden someone takes it to a different level."

Beckman's run of wins placed him first entering the NHRA's six- race playoff setup but a glitch last weekend in Charlotte dropped him into third behind Del Worsham and Tommy Johnson.

Nevertheless, things are going well for the 2012 champion, who endured a 55-race losing streak until this season. An offseason crew change left him optimistic, even when 2015 started on a sour note.

Crew chief Jimmy Prock was added to his team and Beckman preached patience. That paid off when he started chipping away at the national funny car records. He first set the mark with a 3.921 and progressed to 3.912 and then the current time.

Those accomplishments didn't appear feasible when Beckman started slowly. His first race with Prock was in Pomona, Calif., about 30 miles from Beckman's home. He failed to qualify.

"I go into Pomona in front of all my friends for the big debut with a powerhouse crew," Beckman recalled. "If you'd have told me a week before I wouldn't qualify, I'd have thought I'd leave there crying. But I wasn't all that upset. It was frustrating but it wasn't a portent of the season."

Beckman hadn't won since 2012, when he was victorious at Gateway. …

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