Jack Beckman checked another box off of his career to-do list as the Southern Californian scored his first Funny Car victory at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, defeating John Force in the final round.
Beckman, a two-time Winternationals Super Comp winner, powered his Dean Antonelli- and John Medlen-tuned Infinite Hero/Don Schumacher Racing Dodge to its best run of the event and low e.t. of the meet, 3.837, to defeat Force’s 3.897
Beckman, the 2012 world champ, reached the final round in Pomona for the third straight event, following up his 2019 Winternationals runner-up and his victory at the season finale.
After riding out a small fire in his first-round victory over Steven Densham and powering to a solid 3.87 in round two against teammate Ron Capps’ exploding entry, Beckman then stopped comebacking Alexis DeJoria short of reaching her 10th career Funny Car final and competing for her first Wally since the 2017 event in Brainerd. DeJoria, who sat out the last two seasons, lost traction early in her ROKit Toyota and fell to Beckman's 3.843.
Beckman is the 30th different Funny Car winner in Winternationals history and his 31st career victory ties Del Worsham for eighth all-time in class history.
“To beat John Force in the final, it's a pretty cool weekend,” said Beckman. “It’s my home track. I’ve probably spent more time down there on the starting line than anybody else. I feel comfortable here. There were a lot of friends and family out here today. This a perfect storm. I had never won a nitro title at Pomona up until November last year and now I got two in a row. It’s beyond magical. You don’t know if your last win is your last win. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this isn’t our last win. The Infinite Hero team has been amazing. We were top two every run in qualifying, except for the first round. Our car was just absolutely amazing. As a driver, you don’t want to limp your way into the winner’s circle. It was awesome for us.”
Force’s final-round loss ended his bid to break his tie with Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden to become the winningest driver in Winternationals history with what would have been his eighth win.
Force, who made his Funny Car debut at this event in 1977, reached the final round at the Winternationals for the first time since 2014 but for the 11th time in his career; it’s 258th final round of his career
Force beat Bob Bode and Tommy Jonson before facing off with low qualifier Matt Hagan in the semifinals.
Hagan, one of the top Funny Car performers of the last decade in Pomona with Winternationals wins in 2015, 2017, and 2018, and Auto Club NHRA Finals titles in 2011, 2013, and 2014, looked primed for another Wally after qualifying his Mopar/Pennzoil Charger No. 1, but struggled Sunday before having his day ended in the semifinals by Force’s 3.927.