When Bob Tasca III did a makeover on his team earlier this season it made all the difference in the world.
In the last six races, Tasca’s Ford Mustang has been one of the best in the NHRA Mello Yello Series Funny Car class.
That trend continued Friday night at the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals.
Tasca III clocked a 3.871-second elapsed time at 330.63 mph in Q2 to take the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot.
If Tasca’s elapsed time holds through Saturday’s two qualifying sessions, it will be the first of the season for him and the fourth of his career.
“For us, our season started in Richmond (Va.), bringing Jon Schaffer over and Mike Neff and we just started from scratch,” Tasca said. “If you look at our performance since Richmond relative to the competition we are one of the best cars out there and trust me, we have a lot of work to do. This is a set-up where are really starting to dial-in.”
The run that took Tasca to the top of the qualifying ladder didn’t come as a complete surprise.
“We kind of felt the 330-plus run and a mid-3.80 run kind of building,” Tasca said. “I’m humbled to be behind the wheel of this thing. I am happy that I’ve been signing pistons for years that said 330 mph and I told my crew chief, ‘listen, you have to make this reality for me. So that was nice to get that under our belt. I think you’re starting to see that this is a brand-new body that we needed to kind of learn. It is different than last year’s body. As we have kind of developed our tune-up, we also kind of worked away at the aero on the body and you saw it come together for us (Friday night) and putting ourselves in position to win come Sunday.”
Tasca took a moment to discuss the toll the three-race Western Swing – Denver, Sonoma, Calif., and Seattle – takes on a team.
“Hey, listen, at this point in the season you’re battle-tested,” Tasca said. “These guys, we start the year out knowing what we’re getting into. Come the West Coast Swing, it is all hands on deck. From a parts standpoint, hours on the road and driving and working on the race car, we went to the finals in Denver, quarterfinals in Sonoma and now No. 1 qualifier so far here (in Seattle). A lot of hard work is paying off. I’m most proud of the guys, the team, everyone is doing their job, no mistakes. That’s what I preach, no mistakes. We have to do our jobs. This Mustang just keeps getting stronger and stronger.”
Since Richmond, race No. 8 of the season, Tasca said he knew his team needed a change of fortune.
“We had a goal going into Richmond, behind closed doors, we believed we could get into the Top 5. We believed that if we really worked hard and executed our plan, with Mike (Neff) and Schaffer and Eric (Lane) working together we wanted to get into the Top 5 going into Indy and catch our stride going into the Countdown. The one area we really didn’t have the tool in our tool box was that 3.80 run. We didn’t have a chance to. It was hot through the summer, but we did it in Sonoma and we did again here just now. Those are the kind of runs you need in your pocket to make a big-time run for the championship toward the end of the year. I don’t know if we are peaking because I know behind closed doors there are a lot of areas that Mike and the guys want to improve on, but we are certainly going in the right direction.”
Since Richmond, Tasca has two wins at Bristol, Tenn., and Norwalk, Ohio, and a runner-up finish in Denver. He arrived in Seattle sixth in points.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019