MORRISON, Colo. – As Jack Beckman prepares to defend his Funny Car victory in the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, he hopes he can draw some inspiration from his outstanding effort there one year ago to perhaps ignite a spark in what has so far been a somewhat lackluster 2013 campaign.
The defending Funny Car world champion, who claimed his first Funny Car series title in dramatic fashion last season, has had a bit of a sluggish title hangover through the first half of the season, his lone bright spot a runner-up finish at Englishtown.
“We’re disappointed to be this far into the season and only have one runner-up finish and no wins,” said Beckman, who is sixth in the standings. “We feel like we’re in a good position, but the points are really tightly packed from third to eighth. The competition has been so good that it is a great effort if you can make it to a final.”
He and his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger team, led by crew chief Todd Smith, are determined to pick up the pace as the tour kicks off the famed Western Swing, July 19-21 at the scenic dragstrip that sits in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, 10 miles west of downtown Denver. Indianapolis-based NHRA teams will travel more than 5,300 miles roundtrip in three consecutive weeks, racing in Denver, Sonoma, Calif. and Seattle during the Western Swing.
Racers in all four categories in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will roll into Bandimere Speedway, situated at an altitude of 5,860 feet above sea level, to compete at one of the most challenging venues they will face during the season.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) join Beckman as the defending winners at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
Last season at Denver, Beckman raced to the No. 1 qualifying position and then took the race victory by outrunning Courtney Force in her Traxxas Ford Mustang in the final round.
“Our confidence going in there is up based on our performance last year,” Beckman said. “After the Western Swing you only have two races left before the Countdown, so there just isn’t any room for anyone to stumble. If you do, you’ll find yourself on the outside for the Countdown.”
Beckman has a nice record at the mile-high facility. He also won at Denver in 2007 and was runner-up there in 2008. Beckman says while the track requires a totally different tuning manual, he says he really enjoys racing there given Bandimere’s distinctive set of characteristics.
“Denver is all about survival,” Beckman said. “As a driver and a fan of our sport I love it. The challenge to run in the high-altitude is a great one. The scenery is gorgeous and the whole atmosphere is so unique to our sport relative to all the other events. However, as a crew chief I would hate it. The crews have to change so much on the cars to run in those conditions it is just incredible.”