NHRA: ‘Fast Jack’ Beckman may have to change nickname to ‘Unstoppable’ after Traxxas win

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BROWNSBURG, Indiana – Given how this season has gone, a nickname change may be in the cards for “Fast Jack” Beckman.

How does “Unstoppable Jack” Beckman sound? It has a pretty good ring to it.

In addition to the five national event wins he’s earned in the first 17 races, the California native picked up a cool $100,000 Sunday, capturing the Traxxas Nitro Shootout at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Beckman (4.051 seconds at 309.06 mph) defeated Robert Hight (4.138 seconds at 303.71 mph) to win his second career Traxxas Shootout, a special race-within-a-race.

He also helped Don Schumacher Racing double-up, as teammate Antron Brown won Saturday’s Traxxas Top Fuel Shootout for the first time in his career, defeating Doug Kalitta.

But there’s more.

Beckman is also the No. 1 Funny Car qualifier heading into Monday’s eliminations of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, making it four straight races that he’s gone into the final day of an event as the top qualifier.

In addition, Beckman is going for the sweep: All he needs to make it a perfect weekend is to win Monday’s race, which would be his first career triumph at Indy.

“When Jimmy (crew chief Jimmy Prock) came over, I knew we were going to do some special things this year,” Beckman said. “You do think about how great of a year it could be – and I’m not sure I could have imagined it could have been this good.

“It’s just been a little surreal.”

While it would be easy to do so, Beckman, who won the Funny Car championship in 2012, is not looking ahead to the upcoming six-race Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs.

“We’re going to leave the track with a smile tonight, but there’s not going to be time for celebrating,” he said. “We’re coming back Monday and we really want that Wally (winner’s trophy).”

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.