Jack Beckman won the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for the third time in six years, adding another $100,000 prize to his Traxxas bank account with a final-round decision over Robert Hight on Sunday at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
Hight, runner-up at the three previous Shootouts, looked like he had the lead and his first victory in the special event until his Auto Club Chevy faltered, and Beckman’s Infinite Hero Dodge roared away to the win, 3.952 to 4.360.
Beckman, winner in 2013 over Cruz Pedregon and in 2015 over Hight, beat a pair of his Don Schumacher Racing teammates, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps, to reach his third Shootout final in six tries. Beckman ran 3.87 to beat Johnson in round one then survived a wild semifinal race with Capps. Both mounts smoked the tires but Capps’ supercharger backfired when he went to pedal the throttle while Beckman tight-roped down the centerline to the victory.
“We got in and win in 2013 and we didn’t have a [race] win,” said Beckman “That’s what makes it exciting. There is a big litany of ways to get into the field but to get the trophy you have to beat three of the baddest fuel cars out here.
“I wish I had a crystal ball. If I had known a 4.94 would win we’ve have slowed it down and drove it down there safely," he added. "In that second round against [Ron] Capps, we lost lane choice by a thousandth. We had problems and they had bigger problems. I lifted but from now on I think I’m going to skip the first pedaling job. The first time, it always knocks the tires loose. The second time I pedaled it, it went big-time sideways. I thought, ‘Don’t take out one of the blocks.’ Then I saw his nose and got back in the thing. Sometimes good enough is good enough.”
“I saw Robert way out on me there, then he started backing into me,” said Beckman of the final round. “Then at 920 feet I saw the windshield crack; it split all the way across,” said Beckman. “I stepped off the throttle and thought ‘That’s bizarre’. Usually, that’s the direct result of the supercharger leaving the engine at a high velocity. This time it didn’t blow up. I guess the windshield just didn’t want to go 325 [mph] anymore.”
Hight, runner-up to John Force (2014), Beckman (2015), and Courtney Force (2016), opened his account with a 3.88 conquest of Funny Car rookie J.R. Todd then defeated his boss, team owner John Force, 3.89 to 3.95, to reach the final.