Brothers Cruz and Tony Pedregon, the past two Funny Car champions, have yet to win a race in 2009. John Force, Robert Hight and Tim Wilkerson, all considered challengers for the NHRA championship when the season started, are winless to date.
Beckman, a driver from North Hills, with six career NHRA Funny Car victories, wants to add his name to the winner list after this weekend’s races at Atlanta Dragway.
“You know, it’s been an interesting year,” Beckman said. “I thought that we would have had a win by this time, but I think that most fans would have also expected that Robert Hight, John Force, Tim Wilkerson and the Pedregon Brothers all would have had wins by this time in the year.”
One bright spot for Beckman is that his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps has dominated at times in the Funny Car class. Capps has won three of the first five races this year and has emerged as the top driver in Funny Cars.
“The NAPA car, with Ron Capps and (crew chief) Ed McCulloch, has definitely risen to the occasion and set the bar pretty high for the rest of us,” Beckman said. “But, I still think this is going to be another Funny Car year where you see 10 different winners.”
The Funny Car class has been extremely competitive in recent years. Qualifying for races has been challenging, but it hasn’t been a problem for Beckman.
“To me it’s a testament to how competitive this category is,” Beckman said. “It’s so tough to win in Funny Car anymore, so the fact that the NAPA team has won three is actually amazing. And I’m happy for our teammates, but I want to be happy for our crew chief Johnny West and everyone else on the Valvoline/MTS team too.”
Beckman comes into the races at Altanta seventh in the Funny Car standings. He has one final appearance – at Las Vegas where he lost to Ashley Force Hood.
“We’re definitely going to win some races, but it would be nice if we did it this weekend in Atlanta,” Beckman said. “We’ve gone rounds everywhere but one race, so it would be nice to get the Valvoline/MTS car in the winner’s circle as soon as possible.
“We just have to keep focused on the fact that we are championship contenders, and tell ourselves that every single week. I tell you, everybody on our team has a good attitude, but there's nothing like a Sunday with the trophy in your hands to solidify that good attitude.”
The NASCAR Camping World Series West drivers will be at Phoenix International Raceway for a race on Thursday. The race is expected to draw some top prospects from across the nation, including the grandson of Richard Childress.
Austin Dillon, Childress’ grandson, won the rookie of the year in the Camping World Series East last year.
David Gilliland, a driver from Riverside, is entered in the West Series race. He is also expected to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track on Sunday.
Steve Park, a former Cup Series driver, is entered in the West Series race at Phoenix, as is Andrew Myers of Carlsbad, who has been racing in the NASCAR Late Model division at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
Mike David of Modesto won the West Series race at Phoenix last year.
Greg Pursley, a Canyon High graduate, is second in the West Series standings after winning the season opener in Kyle, Texas, and finishing sixth in Roseville.
Jason Bowles, a driver from Ontario, is fourth in the West Series standings.
Eric Holmes of Escalon leads the West Series standings after two races. He won the West Series race at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., two weeks ago.