Beckman makes quickest Funny Car pass to lead field

For the third consecutive race, Jack Beckman has clocked the quickest Funny Car run in NHRA history. He powered his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger to an amazing 3.901-second elapsed time to take the No. 1 qualifying position in a rain-shortened day of racing Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Int’l Raceway.

NHRA officials were forced to cancel the final qualifying session due to persistent rain showers in the area and a warning of severe weather approaching from the west.

Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Shane Gray (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were No. 1 qualifiers and will also lead their classes into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the penultimate regular season race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Jack Beckman

Beckman, who posted a 3.921 in Sonoma and a 3.912 in Seattle at the previous two events, will need to post a time of 3.940 seconds or quicker in racing tomorrow to certify the 3.901 as a national record, which carries a 20-point bonus.

It was Beckman’s fourth No. 1 of the season and 14th of his career, and he will open eliminations against Bob Bode as he goes for his class-leading sixth victory of the season and tries to further increase his series points lead.

The ultraquick run came at just the right time for Beckman, who was briefly bumped from the top spot by 16-time world champ, John Force, who sped to a career-best time of 3.930 seconds in his Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro late in the third qualifying session.

“I am very satisfied with the 3.901 and the speed record," said Beckman, who also set the national speed record on the run at 325.69 mph. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a speed record. I saw John Force run that 3.93 right in front of us, but then there goes [crew chiefs] Jimmy [Prock], John [Medlen], and Chris [Cunningham] again. It’s so interesting when you see a car that’s this unbelievable; it’s like everything becomes believable.

“I love our chances tomorrow, and I feel incredibly comfortable."

Alexis DeJoria qualified third with a career-best run of her own, a 3.946 at 321.88 mph, in her Patron XO Cafe Incendio Toyota Camry. Force’s daughter Courtney qualified fourth with her Friday best of 3.959 at 320.66 in her Traxxas Camaro. Defending world champ Matt Hagan qualified ninth in his Rocky Boots Charger with a 3.984 at 324.83.

Richie Crampton

In Top Fuel, Crampton claimed his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and third of his career with a track record time of 3.718 at 323.50 in his Lucas Oil dragster.

“That’s what [crew chief] Aaron Brooks tries to do in conditions that are like this," Crampton said.

“It’s fun for me," Crampton continued. “I’m the new guy who got to get into one of the best cars in the world. For me to be in this position, I’m extremely spoiled. It’s a lot of fun, and my team deserves it. My dad is here from Australia, it’s a Lucas Oil race, and we’re the Lucas Oil flagship, so this is the time to do it. It’s exciting."

The three-time season winner will open eliminations against his teammate and the event’s defending winner, Morgan Lucas.

“I’ve raced him once before and red-lighted against him, so let’s not do that again," Crampton said. “We’re going to race and see what happens. He’s been struggling a little bit, but it’s going to be a good race. He’s got some kind of magic horseshoe when it comes to this racetrack, so it’s going to be a good one."

Series points leader Tony Schumacher qualified second in his U.S. Army dragster with a 3.737 at 319.52, and veteran driver Doug Kalitta qualified third in his Mac Tools dragster with a 3.740 at 319.75.

Shane Gray

Gray powered his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro to his first No. 1 qualifying position of the season in Pro Stock with a run of 6.607 at 209.20.

Due to the 15-car field, Gray will receive an uncontested pass in the opening round as he is seeking his first win of the season and an improved points position.

“Well, round one tomorrow’s going to be awful hard for me to screw up because I get a bye run," Gray said with a smile. “Hopefully, I won’t cross the centerline or something like that. It will be a fun day tomorrow. Conditions will be a lot different than they have been all weekend, so it will be different. I’m looking forward to it."

Defending world champ Erica Enders qualified second in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro with a 6.609 at 208.26, and Chris McGaha, who is riding a two-race winning streak, will start third in his Harlow Sammons Racing Camaro with a 6.614 at 208.49. Former world champ Allen Johnson took fourth in his Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart with a 6.616 at 208.20, and series points leader and Minnesota native Greg Anderson will start eighth with a 6.624 at 208.14 in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro.

Andrew Hines

Hines, the defending series champ and a two-time winner at BIR, rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to the top qualifying position in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a performance of 6.937 at 190.54. It is his first No. 1 of the season and 36th of his career.

Like Gray, Hines will also get a single in the opener because there are only 15 bikes entered.

“Having that bye run the first round could mean the difference right now," Hines said. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have enough motorcycles that trekked up here to Minnesota, but getting the No. 1 qualifier for Harley-Davidson and being able to have that bye run, we can take a chance on Sunday and try to learn something first round. That’s something we probably wouldn’t do on a normal Sunday when you have to race somebody in the other lane. The field is so stacked right now, so I guess it’s a blessing in disguise to have nobody in the other lane. We were going to try something in the fourth qualifier, and that setup is still in the bike, so we’ll roll it out first round tomorrow and see what happens."

Eddie Krawiec qualified second with a 6.949 at 191.97 on his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson, and Hector Arana Jr. will start third on his Lucas Oil Buell with a 6.951 at 193.88. Alligator farmer Jerry Savoie qualified fourth on his Suzuki with a 6.994 at 192.49.

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