Make it two in a row for Bob Tasca lll.
After struggling early in the season and changing up the lineup with his crew, Tasca III has found his groove.
Tasca III won his second Mello Yello Series national event in a row, claiming the title at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, Sunday.
Tasca captured the title by ousting Jack Beckman in the final round.
Tasca clocked a 4.383-second lap at 245.09 mph to defeat Beckman, who slowed to 11.764 seconds after smoking the tires right off the starting line.
Tasca, who won in Bristol, Tenn., last week, snared back-to-back wins for the first time in his career, bringing his win total to 6.
“I’ve worked a lot of years to get to this place and there were days I never thought I would get back here,” Tasca said. “This sport can take everything from you. It can tear you’re heart out. Someone said, ‘never give up, don’t ever give up (Jimmy Valvano)’ and I never gave up and I thank the people who never gave up on me. None more important than the Ford Motor Company. They came back and I just dreamed of being able to give them a Hot Rod like we have. When you have the names of (Mike) Neff, (Jon) Shaffer, and (Eric) Lane up in that trailer and guys who bolt that thing together, I always knew if I could get the right car under me, we could do great things. I woke up this morning and I was as confident as I ever was. Not cocky, I always say confident.”
Tasca’s victory march Sunday consisted of wins over Matt Hagan, Paul Lee, John Force and Beckman.
“When you make four runs in the 3s, in very challenging conditions, there was no reason why we could not have won this race and I’m glad we got it done,” Tasca III said. “I just talked to my good friend Steve Torrence and he knows a thing or two about rolls, and he said just keep riding it. I’m going to take him up on that advice and we are just going to keep riding it. The beauty of what we are doing with this team is we are going out and we are really performing at a high level every time the car goes down the race track and we are gathering data. The more data we have, the better this team will be. We are not making wholesale changes anymore, we have kind of landed in a sweet spot and like I said, Mike Neff, Jon Shaffer and Eric Lane, those are three of some of the most talented guys out here on this car. I’m excited for Motorcraft, I’m excited for Ford and all the sponsors who support us. This is what they pay us to do. They pay us to go out and perform and win and competed for a championship and anything less we’re not delivering on the promises we make and I’m just very excited to be able to do that.”
Tasca admitted that during his first two round wins Sunday, he wasn’t in sync.
“I heard Matt (Hagan) double step it and I knew I wasn’t late because I didn’t see the tree come down, so that was a little strange,” Tasca said. “I will not call it intimidation but let me tell you something when you have a car as good as mine, running as good as it is it gets in your head. You have to cut a light to run with us and clearly Matt is a champion and he’s one of the best out here and he just made a mistake and it can happen to any of us. Then, the second round against Paul Lee, he just flat out left. I don’t even know if the tree went down. I just hit the throttle when I heard him go and that was crazy.”
Tasca then took a moment to discuss his semifinal match-up with legendary John Force. The same Force he beat in the finals in Bristol.
“What can I say about Johnny,” Tasca said. “He and I have some history up there and I was prepared to burn it to the ground. He does what he does up there, and I don’t know what he does sometimes, shallow, top bulb out and I just wait. I can’t count to 77, but I can count to 7 and I just gave him his opportunity to do whatever he wanted to do. There is no one out here I get up more for than John Force and that’s because I have the ultimate respect for him. I don’t think anyone out here could live to be 1000 and do what that man has done in a race car. So, you better pay attention when you run the champ and that’s what he is to me, a mentor. I just took my time and it was just a great old’ drag race. We left pretty close and our hot rod made a great full pull.”
Tasca said the addition of tuner Neff has been a jolt to his team.
“Neff is tough on me,” Tasca said. “That kid is a lion behind closed doors, and he said you robbed me two hundredths of putting a 96 on the board, Tasca. I said Neff, we won. Mike Neff has really changed the whole attitude inside our trailer. He has helped me pick up my game and he’s helped our team pick up its game. He looks at me with fire in his eyes and I always wanted to race with this guy my whole career. I just knew we had this chemistry and to bring in our trailer with Schaffer and Lane, it has been exciting for me.”
Tasca did have trouble describing Neff’s job title for his team. Neff was the crew chief on Tony Schumacher’s Top Fuel dragster last season.
“He’s the chief, consultant engineer of the chiefs,” Tasca said. “What can I tell you? He’s the man in my trailer. What he says goes and what is interesting is the chemistry. It is not just Mike Neff. Mike Neff can’t win anything out here without a team. I see Schaffer and Eric bouncing things off him, but at the end of the day, you have to have a boss. Somebody has to say that’s what we are going to do, and Neff has been that voice in our trailer right now and it has obviously worked. I have the utmost respect for Schaffer and Lane, and they have the utmost respect for Neff and that’s why it works. Because if they had egos, and they were working against one another it doesn’t work.
Mike and Jon raced together for many, many years, and Eric was in that Force machine with those guys and it just works. I said to Schumacher, because Mike Neff is on Don’s payroll and everyone knows that and we have a technical alliance with Don, that’s what it is. We have been very up front with it, and we needed technical advice. When we made this big change, Mike Neff was the obvious person to come over and help us with that with the people we had. It has worked, maybe better than some people thought, but I really thought it was going to work the day we pulled this trade off with John Force. Obviously, I’m very happy with the outcome and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019