Jack Beckman gets first NHRA win of 2016
There’s no place like home and, for team owner Don Schumacher, a native Chicagoan, Route 66 Raceway is where he was able to hang his latest double-up.
Thanks to winning efforts from Don Schumacher Racing drivers Antron Brown [Top Fuel] and Jack Beckman [Funny Car], Schumacher earned his third consecutive double-up weekend and 56th overall at the NHRA K&N Filters Route 66 Nationals outside of Chicago.
Also scoring wins were Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
DSR’s dominance has come from five different drivers since the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn.
"To double up here at Chicago, my home track and my home for many, many years is just a phenomenal feeling," said Schumacher. "It has been awesome to have the family, friends and company people here. I cannot express just how wonderful this makes me feel."
Funny Car racer Beckman joined the list of winners by ending a dry spell dating back to last season by beating Ron Capps in the final with a 3.95 ET. Capps lost traction early in the run and lifted.
Beckman has had the car to beat since Sonoma last season but failed to turn the momentum into victories. He had four No. 1 qualifiers entering this weekend, and three final rounds but no wins.
"I thought we had so much momentum last year, and then we go to the Countdown and watch Del win the first two," Beckman explained. "We come back at Maple Grove and win that one and set the national record – and then we haven’t seen a winner’s circle since then. Even though we had been to three final rounds this year, we really didn’t have our car. We never made it more than 200 feet in any of those final rounds, and we were struggling. We set the national record this year, qualified No. 1 four times this year, but we just couldn’t put it together.
"We’d either run good in the heat and not in the cool track conditions or great on the hero conditions and couldn’t get it down the track in the heat. We just found some things with the car."
Top Fuel racer Brown vaulted to his fourth win of the season by outrunning J.R. Todd in the final round with a 3.77 ET to a 3.79. The victory marked Brown’s 41st win in Top Fuel.
“We found new things that are making it better. We are on to something, and we are just going to keep improving upon that. Our deal is we try to win every race we go to. We compete at a high level, and our main goal is to come into a race and go out there and be efficient, and that means getting every drop out of this lemon every time.
"We need to be on that level to be where we want to be at like where we were last year. That’s the key right now, getting your team and car ready to go to battle."
In winning, Brown climbed into the point lead for the first time this season.
“I don’t even think about it but it’s good that we got it," Brown explained. "Those 30 points are crucial. It’s hard to make up 30 points when you only have 24 rounds of racing to win a championship. That’s two rounds. That’s going to be very crucial, and we just have to keep working. Hopefully, we can sneak it out and get those points that we need to help us for that title defense.
"We have a boss that is very, very competitive that hates to lose. He gives you all the necessary pieces and tools, so there’s never excuses. He gives you the push you need when you need it. When we come out here to compete at a high level, and that’s all we can do to give to our boss man."
The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Pro Stock division.
A day after losing their first-ever pole position to a non-team car, two members of the three-car KB Racing operation met in the finals.
Anderson, the flagship driver for the team which includes Jason Line and Bo Butner, shook off qualifying shortcomings to race to the victory. He ran a 6.644 ET to beat Butner to the stripe. This victory marks the sixth win this year for Anderson, and No. 84 of his career, just win away from tying Bob Glidden on the all-time wins list.
Shane Gray, the only driver to qualify No. 1 besides a member of KB Racing, lost to Anderson in the semi-finals.
"We just had to flat out race today," said Anderson. "We didn’t outpower anybody. We didn’t outrun anybody. The pack is tightening up and we are in for one hell of a battle for the rest of the year. We are going to have to dig down deep and learn how to drive again."
Hines scored his second Pro Stock Motorcycle title of the season by beating a resurgent Angelle Sampey with a 6.85 ET to a 6.89. The victory marked the second of the season for Hines and fifth for the Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson team.
"The key to winning was being able to keep the bike straight," said Hines. "We had a bunch of cross wind here, but we stuck to it and got through it. We cut frame rails out of the bike, added some things here and there. We decided it wasn’t working for us and went back to our normal chassis, and it worked out fine. We have it working so well; you can take your hands off the bar at 200 mph and it will stay straight."
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues July 22-24 with the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.
Bobby Bennett is the Publisher/Editor of CompetitionPlus.com, a leading independent online drag racing magazine, since 1999. For the latest in dragster news worldwide, visit www.competitionplus.com or follow on Twitter @competitionplus