Jack Beckman has set high goals for himself and the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Funny Car team, as the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series comes down to two events to finish the season, beginning with this weekend's NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Beckman stands sixth in the Countdown to 1 playoffs point rankings, 86 markers out of first place, and admits that a strong finish to the season is what he and the team need to have any chance at claiming the Funny Car championship.

In this year's Countdown to 1 playoffs, points are awarded to the top three in each of the four qualifying sessions in a weekend (three, two, one points, respectively), in addition to the regular qualifying points earned. Twenty points are available for each eliminations round win. Also added in this year's playoffs is the opportunity to garner an additional 20 points for setting a national elapsed-time record racing to 1000 feet (with a one-percent backup). Beckman's Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps holds the existing record of 4.023 seconds.

"I'm done with our mini-vacation," said Beckman of his cross-country trip to the last few races with wife Jenna and son Jason in their motor coach. "After Richmond we went to Delaware and visited Jenna's family, then went to Maryland and visited my family. We're heading back West and we stopped at the shop at Brownsburg, Ind. I just wanted the Valvoline/MTS guys to know that even though I'm not there every day working on the car, I'm as eager to get to the next race as they are.

"It's interesting. We're actually excited about Vegas this weekend. We have an enormous uphill battle. We really need to win seven of the next eight rounds to have a legitimate shot at the championship. Everybody on the team knows that and we're plugging away with that as the goal.

"We don't want to finish fifth or fourth or third; we want to finish first. We still have a shot, and we need to hope that the two John Force cars (Robert Hight and Ashley Force Hood in first and second place) stumble at both races.

"At this point in the game we can only control our car and our team. And I think everybody realizes that these are two pretty good tracks for us (the Strip and the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif.), and if it were going to end on a positive note I think that we would want to be at these two facilities.

"We showed a different side of ourselves, something we haven't shown for quite some time, the last few races. We've been top-three qualifier the last two events, and grabbed our first pole of the year in Richmond. And that's not something that we've been known for. We typically don't qualify well but run well on Sunday.

"So, now we've got that qualifying component working in our favor, but we have to find that Sunday consistency component that really had been our hallmark for the last year and a half that's been missing lately. If we can put those two together we can win these last two races."

Beckman is the 2006 Las Vegas 2 champion.

Mail Terminal Services continues its popular "Mail From Home" campaign in 2009, supporting the U.S. troops serving in the war zones. In the past two NHRA seasons the campaign has sent over 195,000 post cards overseas signed by fans and supporters at each NHRA national event with messages of support for the troops, along with numerous NHRA National Dragster issues and other automotive magazines. Photos of cars and drivers were also included.

In 2009 the "Mail From Home" program has been challenged to exceed the previous records of cards distributed to hit a 125,000-card record for one season.