Bob Tasca III won for the first time since 2012, but boldly predicted he’s a contender for the Funny Car championship this year.
Tasca took out Jim Campbell, Robert Hight, Ron Capps and John Force to win the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Sunday at Bristol Dragway, earning his first victory in the class since Dallas in 2012. Tasca also returned Ford to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2016, and he lauded their return to NHRA.
“They don’t sponsor me because they like me,” said Tasca, whose family has a long relationship with Ford. “They sponsor me because the Ford fan expects to win. That’s why Ford races. There’s no other reason why they’re here. They’ve put an unbelievable amount of resources into engineering, aerodynamics, and they want to put me in a position to win.
“I told them I would win. I said, ‘If you come back to racing, please give me the opportunity for these Ford fans. I will win and I will get your car that will compete for a championship.'”
Tasca sits ninth in the Funny Car standings, but he also knows he’s overcome some early season struggles that culminated in adding Jon Schaffer as co-crew chief alongside Eric Lane before the Richmond race in what amounted to a trade with John Force Racing for Mike Green.
Plus, veteran tuner Mike Neff has been helping Tasca, too, building a valuable brain trust. Tasca’s team started from scratch at Richmond, as he was unhappy with the Mustang’s consistency before then.
“We literally flushed our setup,” Tasca said. “The only thing the same in this race car from Richmond is me. Everything is different. … I don’t want to say it’s instant pudding, but starting from scratch three races ago to pulling the trophy out here, that’s about as good as you’re going to get. Trust me, this isn’t the last time you’re going to hear from this Ford.
“I’ve never had a race car as good as the race car I have right now. This thing goes down the race track fast. The guys put me in a position to win – no mistakes, no mistakes, no mistakes. That’s how you win these races. That’s what we did here this weekend.”
Tasca had the second best elapsed time in the first round (3.983 seconds at 318.47 mph) to beat Campbell. Tasca needed some help in the second round against Hight, who had to pedal and slowed to a 4.337 whole Tasca’s 4.122-second pass was the slowest of any Round 2 winners.
But Tasca stepped it up in the semis, with a round-low 4.048 to beat a slowing Capps. Tasca had lane choice over rival Force in the final as the 16-time champion was gunning for his 150th career victory.
Both drivers’ burnouts were fine, but Force had trouble backing up and then more trouble moving forward to stage. He deep-staged, but Tasca wasn’t fazed and got off the line first before making the winning pass of 4.008 at 316.23 mph as Force slowed to a 4.155.
“I knew it would be a slugfest against Force,” Tasca said. “I thought he was trying to run me out of nitro there. I didn’t know what was going on. I guess he was having some trouble putting it in forward and reverse. I love racing John. I said getting out of the car it was probably one of my biggest career wins. It’s simply because Ford came back to NHRA.”
The victory was Tasca’s first at Bristol.
“I love racing here,” Tasca said. “I remember the first time walking into this tower. There’s a picture of my grandfather’s race car on the wall. There’s so much history with my family racing here in Thunder Valley. I’ve been No. 1 qualifier, been to semifinals, been to final rounds here. Really wanted to win today.
“It’s only one win, but trust me, it’s a big one for this team. But more important, when you look at how that car is running, you have to take notice. The best is yet to come for this team.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019