NHRA

NHRA: ‘Fast Jack’ Beckman ready to unleash thunder and lightning at Bristol

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To paraphrase a line from one of Garth Brooks’ biggest hits, the thunder will roll this weekend and NHRA Funny Car driver Jack Beckman hopes lightning will strike for him.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series moves into Thunder Valley, otherwise known as Bristol Dragway in eastern Tennessee – across from its more well-known big brother, Bristol Motor Speedway – for this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

And while each of the 11,000 horsepower motors in Funny Car and Top Fuel will make it seem like it’s thunder rolling down the track, Beckman wants to strike like lightning and earn not only his first win of 2019 but also his first win ever at Thunder Valley.

Funny Car driver Jack Beckman. Photo: NHRA.

It’s been an interesting year,” Beckman said in a NHRA media release. “At the beginning of the year, we had one of the best cars, but after Gainesville we had a little magic out of the car.

We stayed after Richmond and tested and Chicago was the first time I felt we were back. The car is listening and things are working well, and that’s going to pay off when we continue to go to these hot tracks. That test session and getting things turned around couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Indeed, Beckman’s performance in his Don Schumacher Racing Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat has increased sharply in the last two races. He reached the semifinals at Chicago (lost to Robert Hight) and again lost to Hight in the finals of this past Sunday’s race at Topeka, Kansas. It was Beckman’s second final round appearance of the season.

To come so close, it’s very clear he’s knocking on victory’s door. This weekend could be the day he finally kicks that door down and motors on into the winner’s circle.

A win puts everyone on the right track,” said Beckman, who is a two-time runner-up finisher at Bristol. “You can’t guarantee a win, but you have a better chance of winning if everyone is in a positive mood.

It helps to have some history with the team, especially when you make a mistake like I did in Chicago. But we’ve done some good things and they know I’ll get back on track. All of us are going to make mistakes, but being close and having history together, that helps. Overall, everyone is putting in a great effort.”

Beckman has one of the most colorful nicknames in the sport: “Fast Jack.” It’s served him well and is quite appropriate, as he won the Funny Car championship in 2012. He also previously shared the record with teammate Matt Hagan for fastest speed in Funny Car (335.57 mph), a mark that Hight broke this past weekend at Topeka at 337.66 mph.

While he’d love to have the speed mark back, a win is more important. And with the following race at Norwalk, Ohio in a couple weeks, where Beckman has the most wins (three) of any Funny Car driver there, the Southern California native could be peaking at just the right time.

A win puts everyone on the right track,” Beckman said. “You can’t guarantee a win, but you have a better chance of winning if everyone is in a positive mood. It helps to have some history with the team, especially when you make a mistake like I did in Chicago.

“But we’ve done some good things and they know I’ll get back on track. All of us are going to make mistakes, but being close and having history together, that helps. Overall, everyone is putting in a great effort.”

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Karam, Daly get IndyCar rides with Carlin for Iowa

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NEWTON, Iowa – Sage Karam returns for the second-straight race and Conor Daly is back for another race with Carlin Racing at this weekend’s Iowa 300 NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway.

For Karam, it’s his third start of the 2019 season and his second straight with Carlin. In his five starts at Iowa Speedway dating back to 2010, Karam has never finished outside of the top three, recording four wins (USF2000 – 2010, Indy Pro 2000 – 2011 and 2012, Indy Lights – 2013) and scoring his first NTT IndyCar Series podium in 2015 with a third-place finish.

“I’m really excited to be back again this weekend with Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for the Iowa 300. Iowa Speedway has always been a good track for me in the past, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to work there,” Karam said. “Coming off of a very productive weekend in Toronto, I’m looking forward to applying everything I’ve learned and continuing to work with the team to get the best results possible. A huge thank you to everyone at Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for a great opportunity to race at one of my favorite tracks.”

Daly is back in a second Carlin entry. Earlier this year, the popular driver finished 11th for Carlin in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. At Iowa, he will drive the team’s No. 23 Gallagher Chevrolet.

Daly finished 10th in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for Andretti Autosport.

Daly raced at Iowa in 2016 for Dale Coyne Racing (finishing 21st) and in 2017 for A.J. Foyt Racing (finishing 19th).

The combination gives Carlin two more drivers to gather additional feedback on the car. Max Chilton remains the team’s primary driver but announced recently that he will forego all oval races to concentrate on street and road courses.

That created opportunities for Karam and Daly.

“We were very impressed with Sage’s steady progression throughout the Toronto race weekend and his willingness to learn and adapt,” said Carlin Team Principal Trevor Carlin. “The fact that he hadn’t been on a street course since 2015 and was still able to come right out of the gate confident and constantly improving every session was extremely impressive.

“The SmartStop Self Storage Chevrolet looked great out on track and their group has been a pleasure to work with, so we couldn’t be more pleased to have them back this weekend in Iowa. Sage has done really well in Iowa in the past, so hopefully we can use his experience and our past success at Iowa Speedway to come away with a good result for the team and our partners at SmartStop Self Storage.”

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway will take place on Saturday, July 20th at 7:15 pm ET and will be televised on NBCSN.