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Beckman’s Qualifying Rampage Rolls On

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, April 2 2016

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Jack Beckman and crew chief Jimmy Prock are on the cusp of earning their third pole position in four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing events after Friday’s opening two rounds of time trials for the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals.

“Fast Jack” and his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T set a record elapsed time of 3.916-seconds at 322.88 mph over 1,000-feet at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. If the time holds after Saturday’s last two qualifying sessions, it will be the eighth track at which Don Schumacher Racing’s Infinite Hero team funded by Terry Chandler holds a track E.T. record with Prock and assistants John Medlen and Chris Cunningham.

DSR holds 40 of the possible 84 track records in both nitro categories at the 21 tracks on the Mello Yello tour. “That record just means I didn’t screw up what Jimmy, John and Chris set the car up to do,” said Beckman, who currently holds the national-record ET of 3.879-seconds.

Beckman, who won a personal best seven events and seven poles last season, advanced to the semifinals two weeks ago at Gainesville, Fla., where he recorded his 3.879-second pass.

“It’s going to be a late day tomorrow with the (Top Fuel) dragsters running first, and if there’s cloud cover then that time definitely will be in jeopardy,” Beckman said. “Boy, have I learned the difference between a provisional pole and the final pole. We struggled on the first run (9.434-seconds/11th overall) and were really aggressive at the starting line and the track wouldn’t hold it and that meant we didn’t have data from the run. When the car doesn’t go 40 feet, you don’t know how much you missed it.

“It’s very gratifying that our crew can look at an aborted run and come right back and set the track record.”

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders in their categories. Qualifying continues Saturday to set the starting lineups for Sunday’s noon eliminations. FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will air qualifying highlights Saturday at midnight (EDT). The finals will air Sunday at 5 p.m.

Courtney Force qualified second with a 3.928-second pass at a track record speed of 326.08 mph in her Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS and was followed by Phoenix winner Tim Wilkerson, who posted a 3.936-second pass at 320.66 mph in his Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang. Point-leader Robert Hight qualified seventh in his Auto Club Camaro at 3.980/320.05.

“We had a great start out here at The Strip,” Force said. “Our Traxxas car is really making some big strides this weekend so far. Going into the first round of qualifying we had a hole out so we were only running on seven cylinders and still managed to run a 4.01 and pick up a bonus point.

“We fixed the problem and went back out for Q2 and were really prepared to push it hard because the conditions were so good. It was the perfect time to see what kind of numbers we could get up on the scoreboard. We ran a 3.928 and barely missed the No. 1 spot, but we set the track speed record at 326.08 mph. This is a track for our team for sure. We’ve always had really good luck with big speeds here so I’m looking forward to pushing this car even harder and seeing what we can do before Sunday.”

In Top Fuel, Winternationals winner Torrence led qualifying with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.728-seconds at 325.30 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster. Torrence was quickest in the first qualifying session with a 3.73 and then nearly ran quicker than the track elapsed time record on his second attempt.

“That’s a heck of a way to start the weekend with a 73, and we were not expecting that at all,” Torrence said. “We were trying to run a little quicker (in the second) session but didn’t do everything we needed to. It still ran a 72 and that’s good enough for No. 1. Hopefully, that stands.”

 After the hot start to open the season Torrence struggled a bit in the past two races but said his team _ led by crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana and tuning consultant Alan Johnson _ is back on track after making adjustments to the car since the Gatornationals in Florida.

“The guys did a lot of work over the last week and we changed a lot of things on the car,” Torrence said. “There was some data we obtained from Brittany (Force’s) car with how it has been running and we changed our car over to that. That’s the great thing about our unique alliance and it’s working real well.”

Point-leader Force, who like Torrence also is a client of tuning consultant Johnson and has advanced to finals at the last two races, qualified third in her Monster Energy dragster with a 3.768-second pass at 316.90 mph. Doug Kalitta qualified second in his Mac Tools dragster at 3.732-seconds and 327.19 mph.

“I just feel so confident with this team I have behind me,” Force said. “The way our Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster has been running so consistently makes me really proud to these guys,” said Force at the end of the day. “They have put together a bad ass race car and they know what they are doing. To come out here to The Strip at Las Vegas and put more good numbers on the scoreboard makes me feel pretty good. We are the number three qualifier right now and we have two more shots tomorrow.”

Series point-leader Line led the Pro Stock order with a quarter-mile performance of 6.687-seconds at 205.98 mph in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro SS. Line, who has advanced to every final this season and hasn’t qualified lower than second at any event, is continuing his momentum in Vegas _ a hometown race for team-owner Ken Black.

“I’ve said it before, we are the least-worst right now,” said Line, a two-time world champion. “Everyone is making gains and we have a lot of work to do. I’m glad to be the No. 1 qualifier. The race is really won at the shop and we had a very busy offseason. It’s been a lot of things, but it really came down to the effort.”

Bo Butner qualified second on the provisional grid with a 6.693-second pass at 205.41 mph in his Jim Butner Auto Camaro. Line’s teammate, four-time world champion Greg Anderson, qualified third in his Summit Racing Camaro with a 6.694-second pass at 205.88 mph.

Line will be one of eight drivers who will race for $50,000 on Saturday in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, an all-star bonus event for the 200-mph “Factory Hot Rod” class. Third seed Line will meet Shane Gray in the opening round. Top seed Anderson will open the bonus race against fan vote winner Jeg Coughlin Jr., a five-time world champion.

Erica Enders, the two-time/reigning world champion, is the two-time defending winner of the event. She will face fellow two-time Challenge winner Allen Johnson, the 2012 world champion, in the opener. Chris McGaha and Drew Skillman will meet in the other Round 1 pairing.

Line has been a runnerup in the K&N Horsepower Challenge three times, but never has won. “It probably is my best chance to win it and everyone is saying it’s my turn. But this is drag racing and you don’t get ‘turns,’^” Line said. “I’m hoping tomorrow I can do that. We’ve got great hot rods right now; these Summit Camaros are really fast.”

Friday’s qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 17th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

 Top Fuel _ 1. Steve Torrence, 3.728-seconds, 326.48 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.732, 327.19; 3. Brittany Force, 3.768, 316.90; 4. Richie Crampton, 3.769, 317.12; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.772, 321.50; 6. Dave Connolly, 3.775, 326.79; 7. Antron Brown, 3.777, 308.71; 8. Tony Schumacher, 3.788, 321.12; 9. J.R. Todd, 3.809, 318.32; 10. Clay Millican, 3.809, 315.42; 11. Terry McMillen, 3.993, 246.08; 12. Scott Palmer, 4.054, 292.71.

Not Qualified _ 13. Steve Faria, 4.243, 210.64; 14. Leah Pritchett, 5.076, 140.12; 15. Troy Buff, 5.804, 107.42.

Funny Car _ 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.916, 322.88; 2. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.928, 326.08; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.936, 320.66; 4. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.947, 323.35; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.947, 319.14; 6. Chad Head, Camry, 3.974, 315.86; 7. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.980, 320.89; 8. John Force, Camaro, 3.984, 320.36; 9. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.998, 322.88; 10. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.027, 308.85; 11. John Hale, Charger, 4.072, 306.12; 12. Bob Bode, Toyota Solara, 4.369, 256.55.

Not Qualified _ 13. Gary Densham, 7.442, 97.49; 14. Cruz Pedregon, 7.968, 86.86; 15. Terry Haddock, 8.506, 79.10; 16. Ron Capps, 12.999, 66.22.

 Pro Stock _ 1. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.687, 206.23; 2. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.693, 205.41; 3. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.694, 205.88; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.706, 204.73; 5. Erica Enders, Dodge Dart, 6.711, 204.63; 6. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.719, 204.88; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.725, 205.01; 8. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.725, 204.94; 9. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.731, 204.20; 10. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.754, 204.14; 11. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.756, 203.16; 12. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.770, 204.39.

Not Qualified _ 13. Matt Hartford, 6.776, 203.68; 14. Aaron Strong, 6.785, 203.00; 15. Joey Grose, 6.786, 203.80; 16. V. Gaines, 6.792, 204.29.


| , RacinToday.com Saturday, April 2 2016
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