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Jack Beckman OK after explosion

POMONA, Calif. -- Jack Beckman, who is hoping to win his first NHRA Funny Car championship this weekend, came out unscathed when his car exploded near the finish line of his first-round qualifying run Thursday at Auto Club Raceway.

The shell of his Funny Car disintegrating in a loud explosion as parts of pieces of the body flew into the air in every direction moments before he reached the line.

Beckman was OK, hopping out of what was left of his car moments after it came to a stop.

"Can anyone donate left eyebrow," Beckman joked. "I need one now. I've never had that happen to me and I'm not signing up for that again.

"I went for the chutes, but the lever was gone with the rest of the body. I'm thinking, 'OK, the body is gone, just don't wreck car.' But there was oil on my visor, so I couldn't see where the wall was. Other than that, it was just a routine run."

Despite the wild explosion, Beckman still managed to make the fifth-best qualifying pass in the opening or the Auto Club Finals. The car crossed the line in 4.117 seconds at 273 mph.

Beckman's dramatic opening pass came in the last match-up of the round when lined up next to his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps, the man he's battling for the title in the season finale.

Capps trails Beckman by only four points. Capps smoked the tires about half way down the track and didn't make a pass in the top 12, failing to earn a spot in the opening round.

Beckman didn't seem too concerned about the condition of his car.

"We do have a spare body," Beckman said. "It has some battle scars on it, but it's been good to us. I know Capps will give us a battle, but I think we're still in good shape."

After his explosive run, Beckman hitched a ride on the back of a scooter, zooming down the return lane next to the grandstands. The crowd stood and applauded as he waved and smiled.