The 2019 season had its ups and downs for veteran nitro Funny Car driver Bob Tasca III.
However, Tasca couldn’t be more amped up to get rolling for the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Series campaign in his Ford Mustang Funny Car.
“Listen, I have (co-crew chiefs) Mike Neff and Jon Schaffer at the helm and eight experienced talented guys on the race car,” Tasca said. “I’ve always said I’ve never been more excited to start a season and I think every driver says that every year and I think mathematically on paper this is my best shot going into a season to win a championship I’ve ever had in my career. Excitement (for the 2020 season) is an understatement. I can’t wait to get out there.”
Tasca made his nitro Funny Car debut in 2008 and has competed in 226 national events, winning six, including two last year at Bristol, Tenn., and Norwalk, Ohio. He finished fifth in the points standings.
“I said to Mike and Jon, have you guys ever gone into an offseason and started a year out and only had to worry about one car,” Tasca said. “Mike had a big smile on his face and said, ‘Bob you have no idea how excited we are to be able to do this.’ It is an exciting time. We are going to get out there and we didn’t make a ton of changes to be honest with you. We made some evolutionary changes versus revolutionary changes and we just want to pick up where we left off.”
Tasca said his team will do some testing at Wild Horse Motorsports Park near Phoenix the last week of January.
“I didn’t want to go to Vegas (for the PRO test session that same weekend) because I thought it was going to be too cold,” Tasca said. “Some guys are going to Vegas, and some are going to Phoenix and I’m going to Phoenix. In Phoenix, we are budgeting about nine runs, three a day. Half of testing is to try some things you worked on over the offseason and the other half of it is just to get the guys rolling. Listen, I want to make sure I didn’t forget how to stop.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Series season begins Feb. 6-9 at the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.
“I’m the living example of how not to start a year off last year,” Tasca said. “Coming out of Atlanta (the seventh race of the season in May 5) I cleaned house and made a bunch of changes and you’re just behind the 8-ball the whole time and it just makes it harder. So, getting off to a fast start and going some rounds and knocking a few down early, it is a big deal, and hopefully, with the team we have built right now it is something we can achieve.”
Ford Motor Company officially pulled out of the NHRA when it ended their factory support after the 2014 season, but came back into the NHRA ranks in 2018 with Tasca.
“I have never been prouder,” Tasca said. “I committed to Ford that we would come out and we would win and we would run for a championship and in two years from zero to standing on the podium Sunday morning in Pomona (Nov. 17 at the Auto Club Finals) with a chance to win the championship. It is why we race. It’s why the Ford fans come out to see and support us to have a winning program and I’m looking forward to in year three to go out there and be a contender for the championship out of the gate.”
Tasca acknowledged driving and competing full-time on NHRA’s Mello Yello Series is just what he wants to do.
“I love it,” he said. “I tell people, it’s not a job, it is a lifestyle. I think about it at night and I think about it in the morning. I run a lot of businesses and I’m involved with a lot of different things, but racing is my passion and to be back racing at the highest level with some of the most talented tuners of my generation and be able to work with them, it is just something you dream about. I just can’t wait to see what Mike Neff and Schaffer and the team can do. I’m just privileged to be sitting in the race car, that’s the way I look at it.”