Not only did Beckman defeat John Force in the final round at Maple Grove Raceway, he also took over the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series points lead.
Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were victors in their respective divisions at the first race of the 2019 Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Beckman has been the runner-up four times in 2019 but it was his 3.958-second pass at 330.07 that gave him the holeshot win over Force's quicker 3.952. One of the runner-up finishes was just two weeks ago at the U.S. Nationals against Force.
"In NHRA, you have zero control over what the car and driver in the other lane are doing. Did I want to beat him? Of course. Did it sting that he beat us in the Indy final? Duh. But none of that was going to help me be any better. Some fans came over before the final and said, 'Hey, we'll go razz John.' And I said, 'Don't poke the bear.' That guy, always seems to find a way to get motivated and win more races."
D. Kalitta snagged the Top Fuel points lead when previous leader and reigning champion Steve Torrence made an early exit in round one.
"It was definitely a great day for the whole team," Crampton said. "All four cars are running good, particularly the dragsters, of course. But for Doug to take the points lead heading out of here, and we made a good jump in the points as well, that's what we need to do. It's that time of the year. It's time to execute on race day and Connie and (crew chief) Kurt Elliott gave me the car to do it."
"It was a big victory, for sure," Line said. "Not one of my shiner moments, but big victory, nonetheless. I was a little tardy (leaving the starting line) so not what you want to do in the final round. But 50 wins just means I've had some great race cars to drive and some great people I've gotten to work with over the years. It's been a fun ride."
"It was just a great, great day for everyone. My whole team. I don't take any of this credit. (Crew chief) Tim (Kulungian) and everybody on the team worked their butts off and here we are. At my age, I can do it. I didn't count on making the top 10 because I took three races off. And, bam! Here we are. No one, not even myself expected this."
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Sept. 27-29 with the second race of the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis.
Sunday's final results from the 35th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway. The race is the 19th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series-
Top Fuel -- Richie Crampton, 3.738 seconds, 329.10 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 3.779 seconds, 331.28 mph.
Funny Car -- Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.958, 330.07 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.952, 328.78.
Pro Stock -- Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.553, 210.60 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.594, 208.78.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.774, 198.55 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.805, 196.59.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Troy Coughlin Jr., 5.211, 279.96 def. Megan Meyer, 5.261, 273.61.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Sean Bellemeur, Chevy Camaro, 5.417, 270.86 def. Chris Marshall, Camaro, 5.493, 267.27.
Competition Eliminator -- Christopher Piston, Dragster, 8.117, 146.45 def. Tom Martino, Chevy Cobalt, 8.193, 156.39.
Super Stock -- Herbie Null Jr., Chevy Camaro, 9.700, 136.83 def. John DiBartolomeo, Camaro, 9.271, 142.24.
Stock Eliminator -- Joe Santangelo, Chevy Camaro, 10.385, 119.92 def. Randi Lyn Shipp, Pontiac Firebird, 10.662, 121.58.
Super Comp -- Kyle Bigley, Dragster, 8.925, 162.57 def. Ken Moses, Dragster, 8.940, 174.41.
Super Gas -- Ed Alessi Jr, Pontiac Catalina, 9.937, 158.45 def. Jake Barbato, Chevy Camaro, 9.958, 160.48.