Chat with Jack Beckman
Beckman is 15-6 in his career head-to-head against John Force.
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, we'll be going checking in on the drag racing circuit with NHRA driver Jack Beckman, as the series gets set for the Countdown to the Championship. The first race of the playoffs, O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, starts Thursday in Charlotte.
Beckman enters the playoffs second in the Funny Car points standings, 30 points behind Mike Neff. Beckman owns 11 career Funny Car wins, including two earlier this season at Charlotte. He's also made it to 26 final rounds.
Send your questions now and join Beckman Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:57 PM)
Jack is here!
James (Rochester, NY)
How do you feel about the season so far?
Jack Beckman (1:59 PM)
At the beginning of every year, when a reporter asks what are you goals, I would consider a successful season is multiple wins and be in a spot for the championship. So, we've done it with No. 1 and we'll see about No. 2. I always have to go back to Robert's example. He showed you can squeak in at the bottom and win a championship. Then last year, he was in first in the Countdown and then didn't win a race and dropped to 8th. It's not that teams aren't trying hard. You may have to change parts. You hope that you can make a seamless transition. Sometimes they throw you a curve and you adapt to it. You can do it in the regular season, but during the final run, you might cost yourself a championship.
jim(the wine bottle guy) (napa,ca)
jack, just wondering what have you guys done differently this year than in years past? it seems like you guys have found a better groove this year and are more focused
Jack Beckman (2:01 PM)
It's always interesting when I hear peoples' analysis of something or what we've done. We haven't done anything differently. We've tried our best. There are some evolution in parts and there are some tweaks that we've done. We were in five final rounds last year and won one of them. We would have liked to have won more. For those that don't recall, we were in second place going into the Countdown too. I haven't seen any big slumps. When we experience a race or two where we aren't up to our own expectations, we're digging into the computer data. We're going to fix it quick.
Ellie (Upland, CA)
How important is it to have success at the very first race of the Countdown?
Jack Beckman (2:04 PM)
Well, you know what, wonderful question. I'll give a better answer on Sunday. In theory you could stumble out of the gate and still clinch a championship. In '08, he never won a race all year, but finally won all three at the end and won the championship. It's important for us to have success in every race. We want to win so badly, but there is only so much you can do to increase your chances of winning. The cylinder guy can't tighten things more to give us a better chance of winning. I always look at every race I go to as the first race of the year. It's super important. At the end of the season, somebody that can get 6 wins in a year, that could be a career season but that still means they lost 16 races.
Did you time as a driving coach help prepare you for situations you face on the track now?
Jack Beckman (2:05 PM)
Absolutely. Yeah. In fact, I'm only a consultant for the school now. But I still taught and raced for a couple of years after I started driving the Funny Car. I loved coming back down to earth on Monday and teaching them. It reinforced to me that the things that we do not only applies to those in the class that had never driven, but also someone like me who's been behind the wheel.
HUGE FAN of Fast Jack! I know you've been close before but for me, it seems this year is going better for you than past years going into the countdown. How do you feel about your chances for a championship this year as opposed to past years?
Jack Beckman (2:06 PM)
I think it's easy to assess stuff in hindsight and this year is still in the future. This is the first year where everybody on the crew was on the crew for the last race last year. I've never had that before. If there is an intangible advantage I have over years past, that would be it.
Kevin (Garrett, KY)
What tracks in the Countdown to the Championship do you feel the most comfortable with? What tracks do you feel that you'll struggle with?
Jack Beckman (2:08 PM)
Well, I've spent more time at Pomona than I would say any other living person, at the starting line there. I taught there for 10 years. Vegas, I got my first nitro win there. Phoenix, where I race there in sportsman car a lot. I've won there. I would say if there's a track that I want to prove something at, it's Dallas. I made my Funny Car debut at that track. I would love to finally conquer that track.
ken lassiter (alabama)
what has more to do with a good run, horse power, chassis set up or clutch adjustments,or is it all three?
Jack Beckman (2:11 PM)
D. All three. You can have all of the HP in the world, but if you don't have the right clutch, you'll smoke your tires. And vice versa. As far as chassi set up, we're not like NASCAR. Most of the adjustments with that are small. But it all goes hand in hand. You can't take the best clutch set up in Pomona and the best HP from Phoenix and go to Indy and have the same results. Everything we do is based on the track. That's why the crew chief is the hardest job in motorsports. You get one tuneup and one chance to show what it did.
Anthony (Mooresville, NC)
What would it mean to you if you won the championship this season?
Jack Beckman (2:14 PM)
I think that all of the drivers that really have a legit shot at the championship, in the back of their minds, think about winning the championship. I just don't think you can get consumed with it. It will prevent you from getting where you want to be. But to jump ahead a little bit, it would mean a lot at different levels for me. The self-satisfaction. The team aspect. Helping to guide the team that gives me this opportunity to put on the stage to show them that the crew is the best in the world. Schumacher Racing has so many partners. We work for those people with the stickers on the car. I would like to be doing this for another 12-13 years. To win a championship, it gives you a chance to keep your job for a longer period of time to keep those partners.
Jack Beckman (2:15 PM)
After a good day at the races, talking to the fans or getting e-mails from the fans make me feel great. There are a lot of bad days at the race where we don't achieve what we want. I would like to thank the fans for being kind and supportive when we're not winning. I don't think they understand how much sincere words make a difference in our attitudes out there.
Buzzmaster (2:16 PM)