Saturday, February 7, 2009

NHRA qualifying spots

Jack Beckman, a NHRA Funny Car driver from North Hills, qualified eighth for the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. He will face Cruz Pedregon, the reigning Funny Car champion, in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
Rain washed out the first two days of the Winternationals. Drivers got one round of qualifying in before rain postponed track activity on Saturday.
"Craziness," said Beckman, a driver for Don Shumacher Racing. "You know, you spend this whole off season getting parts, pieces, getting new people together, getting the bodies painted, then you come out here and sit in the rain for three days. And it's fair for everybody, but it's going to be an interesting scenario."
Beckman said he wasn't happy with his run, but it got him in the field.
"We went out there and made what, by our standards, would be a poor run, and it landed us in the top half of the field," Beckman said. "And we have to face the reigning world champ first round, who obviously struggled a little bit (No. 9 qualifier). It's going to be a crazy day tomorrow."
The rain made for some interesting match-ups in the Top Fuel and Funny Car divisions.
Robert Hight was the top qualifier in Funny Car and he will face Jerry Toliver in the first round. Tim Wilkerson, the runner-up in the Funny Car standings last year, did not qualify for eliminations.
Antron Brown was the top qualifier in Top Fuel and he will face little known Steve Faria in the first round. Another little known driver, Joe Hartley, was the second-fastest qualifier and he will face Morgan Lucas in the first round.
"I think this is one of the things that the fans pay to see, where you've got a lot of underdogs, especially in Top Fuel, who are qualified well, and in Funny Car you have a lot of heavy hitters and some of them aren't running the way they're used to running," Beckman said. "With one session each, I think it's equal parts crew chief and driver tomorrow. The crew chiefs have to try to figure out the track and the drivers have to be prepared to save the run if they have to."

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