Jack Beckman piloted his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Charger R/T to an unlikely win on Sunday at the ACDelco NHRA Nationals, visiting victory lane only days after the Team Mopar driver celebrated his two-year mark in recovery from lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the immune system. Beckman's win also remarkable in that it came in only his fourth career NHRA Funny Car start.
Beckman qualified fourth at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and vanquished Gary Densham, Del Worsham, Tony Bartone and Tommy Johnson Jr., in the run to his first NHRA Wally trophy. The victory is the eighth this year for a Don Schumacher Racing and Mopar Hemi-powered Funny Car.
"I've always kind of thought to myself, you want to be a dignified loser, you want to be a dignified winner," said Beckman, who underwent six months of chemotherapy in his successful battle to beat his cancer. "It kind of went out the door when the roof hatch opened down there at the other end. To do something like this has been a dream of mine for thirty-three years, since I was seven, and I first got taken to a drag strip. And it's something that you want very much."
Vegas luck eluded Beckman's Mopar and Don Schumacher Racing teammates. Ron Capps and his Brut Revolution Dodge Charger R/T team exited in the first round, losing a close one to Scott Kalitta. Capps, second in the NHRA Funny Car points standings, lost ground to points leader John Force but remains in the title hunt entering the final event in Pomona. Gary Scelzi failed to drive his Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T to a first-round win, losing to Tony Pedregon, and Mike Ashley bowed out in his Skull Racing Gear Dodge Charger R/T, exiting at the hands of Worsham in a first-round match.