Jack Beckman not only held onto the No. 1 spot he grabbed Friday night with the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger Hellcat but he improved his performance with a 3.861 in the day’s first session, Beckman added a 3.878 to his ledger to go with his opening pass of 3.875 to give him a very quick and very consistent hot rod heading into Sunday’s final two qualifying sessions.
“NHRA hands you the quantity of darts for all of qualifying sessions you get, and you throw them and try to stick one as close to the bulls-eye as possible but overall qualifying doesn’t necessarily tell you has the best car out there, but right now we’re first and, arguably, we have the best car out here. I think we’re making a statement repeatedly and because it’s also bonus-bonus points, we got four points for being low in Q1, four points for being low in Q2 and three for Q3. It’s hard to ask for anything more than that. I’m on a fast horse.
“You drive better with a fast car and I have a high degree of confidence right now. We can stick a clutch disc in there to experiment tomorrow; we have the luxury of trying things that normally might be outside of our comfort zone but we’re going to be fine.”
Ron Capps, who was No. 2 behind Beckman Friday, slipped to the No. 4 pot after being unable to better his 3.882, which allowed Matt Hagan’s Q3 3.874 and John Force’s 3.876 in Q2 to move around him in the qualifying order.
J.R. Todd, who is gunning to become the first driver to win Funny Car three straight years at Indy, sits in the No. 5 spot with his Friday 3.883 with teammate Shawn Langdon still hot on his heels with a 3.887.
Cloud cover allowed the track to remain cool and several ontrack delays pushed the session to early evening, setting up a performance parade. Fourteen cars are already qualified in the three-second range down to Bob Bode’s 3.982, his second three-second pass of the meet.
With Phil Burkart’s 4.061 in Paul Smith’s Rock Batteries car on the bump spot and Justin Schriefer No. 15 at 4.005, the field is just one car shy of setting a new record for quickest field. The current record is 4.029 set at the 2016 Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona. Tommy Johnson Jr., who surprisingly sits unqualified in the 18th spot with a 4.36 best, should easily be able to break into the threes and set the record field if weather and track conditions cooperate Sunday.