Volume IX, Issue 8, Page 27

Beckman Claims Skoal Showdown by ‘Just a Pinch’

There was a lot of pressure on Tommy Johnson Jr. at Indianapolis.
Skoal Racing’s Funny Car driver was one of eight racers putting in overtime as he competed to be the 2007 champion of the 26th annual Skoal Showdown, while also qualifying for the U.S. Nationals.

Being in his hometown, Johnson (#4 in the Showdown) certainly wanted to leave an impression with the crowd, and there was no shortage of drama this year. His first round competition was defending Skoal Showdown champion, John Force (#5). Johnson and Force were also pitted against each other in the Showdown’s final round last year.

Johnson bested Force with the better reaction time, which was just enough to hold off Force, as both cars started mixing up the cylinders and lost momentum. He finished with a pass of 4.888 at 284 mph. 

Johnson was up against Beckman in the semifinals, but the Skoal Racing Impala would not cooperate with the heated track. The car shook hard and the tires were smoked soon off the starting line. Beckman won the round with an ET of 4.973 at 314 mph.

“It felt great getting some revenge against Force from last year’s Showdown finish, but it’s still frustrating to not have performed well at the biggest race of the year,” said Johnson. “We tried some different things with the chassis to get some consistency with the Impala, but we had trouble all weekend. We’re going to head to Memphis and try to get this thing right.”

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In the final Beckman drove the Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car straight into the Skoal Showdown winner's circle, claiming his first victory in this $100,000 bonus event. Beckman defeated Robert Hight in the opening stanza.

Beckman's Showdown win marked the first triumph in this event for a Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car since team owner Schumacher added the first Funny Car team to his stable in 2001. It was also the first all-Don Schumacher Racing final round, as Beckman faced off against his teammate and NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series points leader Ron Capps.

With lane choice for the final round, Capps selected what had been considered the less-desirable right lane, the lane in which he had just defeated Mike Ashley. Capps launched first, with a .093 reaction time (.000 is perfect), to Beckman's .104. It was close, but it was Beckman by a nose - seven feet actually - at the finish line, claiming the win with a 4.950-second pass at 313.80 mph to Capps's losing 4.967/315.64.

"It was close, especially from 800 feet on,” Beckman said. “I could hear him out there and I was just staring at that win light going, 'Come on, come on, come on.' Even at 325 mph it takes a long time to get there.”

Capps thought that he had won the event. "I thought I won, really. I never even saw him. I pulled my 'chutes and still didn't see him and I was on the radio trying to talk to the guys. I just thought our radio didn't work,” Capps explained.