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Beckman's Sunday in Dallas ends in fiery fashion (1 Viewer)

Jack Beckman's Sunday at the 25th annual NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, round three of six in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, ended in the quarterfinal round when the engine compartment in the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger caught on fire as it was nearing the finish line.

Facing off against Ashley Force Hood in the second round after defeating Jim Head in the opener (4.124-second ET at 302.08 mph), Beckman aced the daughter of 14-time Funny Car champ John Force at the starting lights. The two were dead even at the 60-foot mark (of the 1000-foot race track), when Beckman experienced the fire, slowing him to a 4.431/237.46 losing run to Force Hood's 4.085/308.92.

The fire was doused quickly by the Safety Safari as Beckman jumped out of the escape hatch safely.

Beckman is now third in the standings, 45 behind points leader John Force, and 25 back of his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan, winner today, in second.

"We're a little down right now, but we're not out of this thing by a long shot," said Beckman, of his position in the playoffs while seeking his first Funny Car crown.

"Here is where the breaks we made for ourselves the last couple of races are going to pay dividends. We went out for the second round and something was odd with the tune-up. It did not break a rod, which typically causes those big fires. The motor never revved up. We have to figure out why it did what it did an keep it from doing it again.

"The Valvoline/MTS guys have a lot of extra work because everything is charred under there. So, now you've got to go back and make a perfect car again and you can't take any chances. We have to check and probably replace all the air lines, all the wiring and stuff, and this is where having a car with sponsors like MTS and Valvoline and supported by Don Schumacher makes all the difference in the world .

"We've got enough talented people and parts to give us a brand-new race car for Reading.

"It's frustrating but ultimately it's just a one-round loss. We still got some points today and we know we have a tough race car for the next three races.

'We're OK. If we an get back into the winner's circle in Reading we're right back in the fight. But we're not out of it by a long shot."

As for the damage to the Valvoline/MTS Dodge body, "I don't know if we'll repair it," he said. "They get heavy when they do that much patchwork on them. We have an identical-weight MTS body. This one could become a spare or it could be junk at this point.

"Expensive deal. These things happen in fuel racing. We're just not sure why it happened."

Next up is the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, in Reading, Pa., Oct. 8-10.

UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS, after three of six events in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs:
1. John Force, 2339 (runner-up today)
2. Matt Hagan, 2314 (winner today)
3. Jack Beckman, 2294
4. Ashley Force Hood, 2271
5. Bob Tasca III, 2215
6. Robert Hight, 2189
7. Ron Capps, 2157
8. Del Worsham, 2149
9. Tim Wilkerson, 2147
10. Tony Pedregon, 2116
 

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